Andrew Wettengel / Friday, July 19, 2019 / Categories: Work World


Travel nursing can be a fantastic experience for anyone who wants to practice clinical care while traveling the country and meeting new people. But what’s it really like to work as a travel nurse? Here’s a quick rundown on what you can expect from life as a travel nurse.

Average assignment length for travel nurses

The average assignment for travel nurses is 13 weeks. That means you could live and work in four different cities in just one year. Some assignments are longer, up to 26 weeks, while others can be as short as four weeks. Of course, the choice is yours as to how many assignments you want to take on.

Where travel nurses work

Travel nurses are in such high demand that you can essentially pick the state you want to work in. You may want to plan assignments so you can visit all the cities on your bucket list. Or you can plan around the seasons by accepting assignments in the top destinations for summerfall and winter travel.

As far as the work environment, many travel nurses work at major hospitals and clinics. You can typically find options for all specialties and unit types, including medical-surgical floors, intensive care units, operating rooms and more.

Some states put restrictions on nursing licenses, however the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) allows most nurses to live and work in 34 different states without having to get a special license. Your travel nursing recruiter can help you navigate nursing licensure requirements.

Work schedule

When healthcare organizations post travel nursing jobs, they will almost always indicate the shift hours, days of the week and the unit you’ll be working on. In that way, travel nursing job postings are no different than staff positions, so there are no surprises.

You may be asked to float between units if patient census is low, and you may be able to pick up overtime hours if the hospital needs additional staff. You can (and should) ask about any details of the assignment when you conduct your phone interview [LINK TO “Top tips for travel nurse interviews” BLOG POST] with the hospital’s hiring manager.

Pay and benefits

As great as the freedom and flexibility of travel nursing can be, let’s be real, you’re working a job to make money. And thankfully for you, travel nurses typically earn a better hourly rate than staff nurses. While the average RN makes $71,730 annually, the average travel nurse earns $88,400 per year. However, it’s important to note that total compensation will fluctuate based on how many assignments a nurse takes, how many hours they work, their specialty and the state they work in.

In addition to the great pay, travel nurses can also earn other benefits such as medical and dental insurance, 401(k) contributions, per diems, travel reimbursements and housing.

Where travel nurses live

When you accept a travel nursing position, it’s likely your compensation will include housing benefits. These typically take one of two forms: either you can live in housing provided by the healthcare organization you’ll be working for, or you can collect a stipend to find your own housing. If you live in hospital-controlled housing, you may have to pay for things like cable or high-speed internet.

Living with a significant other or your pet is always possible, while some travel nurses choose to become roommates to cut down on costs. This can be a great way to make a connection, or you can find someone who works opposite shifts to maintain independence while putting extra money in your pocket.

Big picture

So, what’s it like to work as a travel nurse? Well, you’ll be able to move around the country and experience new places and people, typically for 13 weeks at a time. You’ll be able to choose your shift and unit, and you’ll earn great pay while you do it. You’ll stay in either hospital-provided housing or find your own apartment, maybe with your new best friend/roommate. But most of all, you’ll enjoy the flexibility and freedom that comes from life as a travel nurse.

Does working as a travel nurse sound like a dream come true? Contact OneStaff Medical or begin the application process today to get started on your career in travel nursing.

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