Travel nursing is a profession of adventure, excitement, and numerous surprises.
If you are new to the idea of travel nursing, before you take your first assignment, you might have done a little research. From searching for travel nursing companies to considering which locations you want, there is a lot to learn. There are also several things that may be surprising.
Whether you are thinking about taking your first travel nursing job or have a few assignments under your belt, certain things about working as a travel nurse may be unexpected including the following:
Travel nursing is for people of all ages.
Travel nurses come in all ages and from all parts of the country. If you think you have to be a certain age or single, that’s not the case. In fact, travel nursing might be a great option once your children are grown. But if you do have little ones, you can also take your family with you on the road. So, whether you are young or a little more mature, married or single, travel nursing could work for you.
There is always something to learn.
Even if you have many years of experience as a nurse, each travel assignment is different. Various facilities may have different protocols, equipment, and charting systems. You may also have opportunities to attend training sessions and seminars. There is always something new to learn. Plus, traveling to a new location and meeting new people is a great way to expand your world. Not only will you learn new skills, but you may also grow as a person.
You can negotiate your contract.
Like many types of jobs, it may be possible to negotiate the terms of your contract. The hospital may have a fixed rate for nurses so there may not be much wiggle room when it comes to salary. But stipends, bonuses, and housing might all be negotiable. If there are terms in your contract that you are not happy with, it doesn’t hurt to see if you can tweak a few things. Just be realistic and professional and give it a shot.
Permanent nurses often welcome you with open arms.
Some nurse travelers might be concerned that they might have large workloads or get “dumped on” since they are only temporary. It’s also common to wonder how the permanent staff will welcome you. In many cases, the nursing staff will likely be glad you’re there. The facility needs additional staffing, or they would not have hired you. The permanent staff will be happy for the extra help. Like any new job, your approach and attitude also play a big role in how receptive your workmates are. Be approachable and friendly, and your new co-workers will probably do the same.
Not all travel nursing jobs are 13 weeks.
It’s true that many travel nursing jobs are 13 weeks. But that is not the only game in town. Short-term assignments are also often available. Travel nurses may be needed in crisis situations to cover when additional staff is needed, such as in a natural disaster or during a staff strike. You might not get that much-advanced notice for these types of assignments. But they also often pay well.
You can take your pets.
If you have a four-legged friend at home and you’re wondering how you can hit the road on assignment, don’t worry. You can take your pets. You might want to consider the shift you’ll be working and how many hours your pet will be left alone. If you decide it’s best to take your pet with you, just be sure to let your recruiter know in order to find pet-friendly housing. Many apartments and company housing units accept pets.
Benefits are often included.
Working temporary assignments might make you think that you won’t have health coverage or retirement savings. But most travel nursing companies also provide health insurance and participation in a retirement plan. Some companies may also offer paid time off and life insurance. Before signing your contract, make sure you understand what benefits are included and when they kick in.
Travel nurses are often needed in most specialties.
Travel nurses are often needed in such in-demand specialties as cardiac intensive care, neonatal intensive care, and the emergency department. But depending on your flexibility, you are also likely to find a travel job in most specialties including medical-surgical, labor and delivery, and telemetry.
Obtaining licensing is easy.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) developed the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The NLC is an agreement that allows nurses to hold one nursing license but work in other states without applying and paying fees for an additional license. The state you wish to practice also has to participate in the NLC. As of January 2019, 30 states participate in the NLC, and another four states have pending legislation. To determine if your state and the state you plan to practice in is part of the NLC agreement, check the NCSBN website.
You may fall in love with travel nursing.
If you’re just getting starting as a travel nurse, you might not be sure how things will work out. Although few jobs are perfect, and you may have challenging times as a travel nurse, it will likely be well worth the effort. Travel nursing combines meaningful work with adventure. Whether it is the city, your co-workers, or the patients you meet, each assignment may be memorable for different reasons. In fact, you might just find you have fallen in love with working as a travel nurse.