Travel nursing is a unique and rewarding experience that lets you see new places while helping people in need. The ability to travel for work is something that most folks in other fields dream of, but it’s a frightening prospect for many nurses. The idea of packing up and moving to a new city for work — and doing it every few months as you take on new assignments — can be a bit overwhelming. And if you have only ever heard about the challenges of travel nursing, you might feel like the drawbacks outweigh the rewards.
Life as a travel nurse isn’t without its difficulties, but the perks are pretty incredible. In addition to getting to show off your favorite modern scrubs in new cities every few months, you’ll earn a lucrative wage, develop a broader skill set and meet lots of new people. Here are a few reasons why every nurse should give travel nursing a shot at least once!
1. Lucrative Pay
There are lots of great reasons to give travel nursing a try, but the opportunity to earn a big paycheck is the one that draws many nurses to this career. Keep in mind, though, that pay rates vary depending on several factors.
Having a specialty is one of the best ways to receive top dollar. If you have specialized experience in oncology, labor and delivery, ICU, surgery, etc., you can expect to earn more than a regular nurse. Location makes a huge difference too. Wages are usually highest in major cities and larger states. While the salaries may be higher in New York and California, keep in mind that the cost of living is higher in these places.
If you are willing to work weekends or holidays or travel to northern states during the cold winter months, you’ll likely earn higher wages, too. Accepting shortened or extended contracts could also boost your income.
2. Opportunities for Career Advancement
Working in numerous medical facilities helps you broaden your skill set and learn new things. You learn different ways of doing things and are exposed to various types of equipment and technology. Plus, working with other people means you get to learn from their knowledge and experience. As you search for your next assignment, you’ll have a chance to broaden your horizons and work in various types of facilities. If you are used to working in big-city hospitals, you could accept a position at a small-town nursing home or a research and teaching facility, for example.
As you move from place to place for work, you’ll learn to become flexible and adaptable. You’ll also develop strong interpersonal skills as you work with people from different backgrounds.
If you wish, you can continue your education while working as a travel nurse. You could even accept assignments near the best nursing schools, so you gain valuable knowledge while earning a lucrative salary. As you work in different places and facilities, you might discover a passion for a particular specialty.
The knowledge and experience you gain while traveling make you a more well-rounded nurse. And since you are always looking for new assignments, you are more likely to be exposed to opportunities to help you advance your career.
3. Decreased Burnout
Burnout is an all-too-common problem plaguing healthcare professionals. Long hours, challenging colleagues and the emotional strain of caring for patients make nursing a difficult job. Without proper self-care, burnout leads to physical, mental and emotional exhaustion; depression and feelings of hopelessness or cynicism.
One of the most beautiful things about travel nursing is it helps prevent burnout. With most assignments only lasting about 13 weeks, there isn’t enough time for the workplace to grow stale. Plus, since you are only there for a short period, you are much less likely to get caught up in workplace drama. If you do have a particularly challenging assignment, you have the peace of mind that it’s not going to last forever, which makes it much easier to keep feelings of burnout to a minimum.
4. Life Experiences
If you desire adventure, working as a travel nurse is an incredible way to satisfy your wanderlust. The life experiences you gain while traveling from location to location are amazing. In addition to learning new nursing techniques and working with different types of equipment, you will experience other cultures, try various cuisines, see remarkable sights and so much more. It’s like getting paid to be on vacation!
When you are off the clock, you can discover new hobbies. For example, if you’ve spent your entire life in Florida and you accept an assignment in Colorado during the winter months, you could discover a love for snowboarding. Or, if you’re familiar with living in the city, working in a more rural setting could help you uncover an interest in hiking.
“Freedom” isn’t a word that’s typically associated with the healthcare industry. Long hours, grueling schedules and missed opportunities to spend time with family are more common than flexibility. Travel nursing changes that, though. Since you have the freedom to choose your own assignments, you can plan around holidays and special events. Instead of putting in requests for time off and trying to find someone to switch shifts with you, you control your schedule. You can also take some time off between assignments if you’re starting to feel burnt out.
Your time is precious. As a travel nurse, you can take control of your schedule and enjoy a much greater degree of freedom than you typically have with other types of nursing jobs.
Even if you don’t think you want to spend your entire career working as a travel nurse, it is worth trying for a couple of years. The experiences you gain are incredible, and how many other jobs allow you to wear your favorite scrub jackets for women and earn top dollar while exploring the country?