Is Travel Nursing for Me?
If you love being a nurse and you’ve always wanted to travel to new places, becoming a traveling nurse may be the next big career move for you. Travel nursing can be a tough but rewarding career, and many people find that the benefits of the job outweigh any disadvantages.
You may be wondering whether travel nursing is right for you and how you become a cross country travel nurse. Fortunately, OneStaff Medical can answer any questions you may have related to the career, including the advantages of being a traveling nurse and the requirements involved.
How Does Travel Nursing Work?
Travel nursing is like other nursing jobs, except assignments are on a temporary basis rather than permanent, like a staff nursing position. As a travel nurse, you can work in various locations, all on a short-term basis, so you have more flexibility for where and how much you want to work.
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities need travel nurses for a variety of reasons. Even if the hospital itself is fully staffed, there may be seasons where extra staff is necessary to care for local population fluctuations or staff nurses taking a leave of absence. These facilities end up hiring travel nurses to fill short-term assignments when needed.
Standard travel nursing assignments typically last about 13 weeks. These assignments can be appealing for nurses who want to work both full-time and part-time. Most of the time, traveling nurses work 40-hour work weeks with 8-to-12-hour shifts. Hours can vary depending on the facility you’re working for, and you may end up working during the day or at night.
The best part about travel nursing is the excitement of experiencing somewhere new. Once your assignment is over, you can choose to take a job position in a completely different place or even take some time off.
One of the first steps of becoming a traveling nurse is working with a nursing staffing agency. Staffing agencies like OneStaff Medical give you access to assignments in many different types of specialties that may be interesting to you.
Weighing the Pros and Cons of Travel Nursing
If you’re thinking about travel nursing, there are many specifics to consider. Most nurses find that traveling assignments are very fulfilling experiences. However, others may get lonely or homesick while on the road. Before you decide whether traveling is right for you, consider all the advantages and disadvantages.
5 Pros of Travel Nursing
- Ability to Travel: Travel nursing gives you the ability to live an adventurous lifestyle. If you’re feeling stuck in your current living situation or job position, or you feel bored about going to the same workplace every day, it’s a great career choice. You will have the opportunity to explore new environments in a variety of cities and states.
- Flexibility and Freedom: Compared to staff nursing positions, travel nurses have more flexibility and freedom to work where and when they want. If you’re someone who thrives on making your schedule and having a sense of personal freedom, travel nursing is a great option for you. If you have an upcoming event like a wedding or reunion, or you want to visit extended family, you can try to find positions in those areas.
- Perks and Benefits: Travel nurses have the potential to earn more money than many staff nurses do. They can also take advantage of many additional benefits, including healthcare, affordable housing, and per-diem for daily expenses. Working with an agency also enables you to explore their job boards for assignments in certain areas or with certain specifications. Some agencies may offer crisis assignments where you’ll have the opportunity to make even more money.
- Professional Growth: By experiencing many different assignments, travel nurses can build their resumes by gaining more experience, making them more attractive to other prospective employers. You can learn new skills at each new job assignment and even try different specialties that you haven’t worked in before. Every experience allows you to work in different locations and facilities.
- Meet New People: Avoid any work politics or drama associated with permanent nursing jobs. Instead, you get to travel and meet new people constantly. This also makes it easier for nurses to deal with work burnout between assignments because you can always start fresh somewhere else.
5 Cons of Travel Nursing
- Travel Logistics: Frequent travel is never easy. Many traveling nurses experience common problems with traveling, such as arranging travel plans, packing, moving expenses, unfamiliar weather, time change adjustments, and adjusting to new living spaces. You may also have difficulty arranging insurance between your contract periods and dealing with personal medical issues.
- Loneliness: Even if you love being a traveling nurse, most nurses get homesick at some time or another, especially if they have to leave their family, friends, or pets behind. Those who are single may still feel some loneliness from being in an unknown place by themselves. Fortunately, there are many ways to combat loneliness as a travel nurse, including volunteering, finding a new hobby, getting a pet, and socializing with new coworkers.
- Adapting to New Places: As you travel from place to place, you may find it hard to adapt to each new location. Traveling nurses must adapt quickly to new positions, especially since every healthcare facility has different expectations. For people who like solid routines, traveling may not be ideal as you’re changing locations and placing yourself in new environments more frequently.
- Obtaining Multiple Licenses: Traveling nurses must have active licenses in whatever state their job assignment is in. Nursing staffing agencies can help you obtain your license for each state and assignment as needed. Getting licensed in different states is fairly simple and only requires proof of an active license, a background check, and the fee. You may also need to obtain additional certifications to work in other medical specialties.
- Career Trajectory: Although you gain more experience by working many different job assignments, it may be harder to develop long-term professional relationships. Professional relationships are great for getting references for other jobs later, but it might be hard to build these connections when your position is short-term. It’s all the more important that you make a large impact as a traveling nurse and do the best you can at your job duties, even in the short time you’re in each location.
Traveling Nurse Requirements
Traveling nurse requirements vary by specialty, but typically you must be a Registered Nurse with at least an Associate of Science in Nursing degree. If you have higher education, such as a bachelor’s degree, you may be able to land higher-paying assignments.
Registered nurses must have a minimum of 12 months of experience working in a hospital or other healthcare facility before becoming a traveling nurse. Because many traveling nurses also work in certain specialties, you may also have to obtain additional certification credentials. Some travel nurse specialties may require more experience before they allow you to travel.
Becoming a Traveling Nurse
Before deciding to become a travel nurse, it’s important to have as much information as possible. Many websites offer resources, tips, and techniques for handling any stresses that may come with the job, like the logistics of traveling. They may also provide other useful information, like networking opportunities, packing tips, checklists, tax information, and certification information.
Even though there are some disadvantages to being a traveling nurse, there are plenty of reasons why becoming a traveling nurse is a great career choice. If you think travel nursing is the next job for you, OneStaff Medical is here to help you find the exact position you’re looking for. Contact us today at 877-783-1483 to learn more.