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The Benefits of Travel Nursing: Is It Worth the Hype?
- Now more than ever, travel nursing is highly sought after for its many benefits.
- From great pay to an opportunity to improve your nursing skills in a new environment, travel nursing seems to have many pros.
- But are the benefits of travel nursing worth all the hype? Former travel nurse, Susan Schwartz, breaks it down so you don’t have to!
RN, MSN, MSHA
Are you considering a career change to travel nursing? Do you enjoy visiting new places and meeting new people?
Are you willing to relocate to another part of the country? Can you think quickly on your feet in a new environment?
These are some of the questions you should ask yourself before taking the plunge!
Want to learn more about the benefits of traveling nursing told by a former travel nurse? Keep reading!
First Thing’s First
The first thing one must decide is where they want to go. For me, I stayed in Virginia close to home during my first assignment.
After that, I took a chance on a new adventure and went to New Hampshire. Up until this point, I had never been to the upper north region of the country.
Traveling away from home can be stressful, which leads me to the first benefit of travel nursing; a good agency. Professional networking platform for healthcare workers, BluePipes, lists the top agencies for 2021; check them out!
Of course, this can vary depending on who a contract is signed with, but a nurse’s housing arrangements can be taken care of by the travel nurse agency!
The travel agency I worked with took care of my housing arrangements and ensured that my apartment would be furnished upon my arrival.
Only having to worry about packing the essentials is one of the top benefits of travel nursing.
One piece of advice, buy most of these things once you get there; it saves space and time in your luggage!
New City, New Experiences, and New Job
For the nomadic soul, the ability to be in a new city several times a year is one of the many benefits of travel nursing.
For me, shopping and sightseeing have always been a great way to explore during my time off!
Befriending coworkers and reading local forums about the best restaurants and experiences is a great way to learn the lay of the land as well as things to do while off the clock, too!
A quick tip: Write down the address of your new home and job location, and make sure you have a rough estimate of how long this route takes.
Of course, after the move in is over and you are all situated, it’s time to go to work!
Orientation will last for a couple of days, and then the new nurses are off to their specific departments.
Understandably so, this inevitable scenario of meeting new people and working in an unfamiliar environment can be intimidating. Speaking from experience, don’t be afraid to ask questions and take notes!
Each facility (and even different departments) may have their own ways of performing tasks.
I remember everyone being helpful towards me if I had any issues or questions.
Now more than ever, travel nurses are greatly appreciated, as most healthcare facilities are continuing to combat staffing shortages and nursing burnout. They need all the help they can get; whether it’s local or not.
Of course, I enjoyed my time at the hospital as an employee, but I enjoyed the friendships and camaraderie even more.
Your Pay is Already Agreed Upon Before You Arrive
When working with an agent, establishing and verifying pay before beginning an assignment is vital.
Maybe more so now than ever before, one of the main benefits of travel nursing that draws so many to the field is the pay. However, in my experience, this greatly depends on the facility and travel agency.
Additionally, the agency will be arranging a nurse’s housing, so it is essential that cable and utility bill payments as well as healthcare coverage and other insurances are covered in the payment conversation as well.
A couple extra questions to ask a recruiter include:
- Did you get a relocation bonus?
- How will I be paid – direct deposit or check?
Lastly, double check the contract! It is better to be safe than sorry.
One of the Big Challenges I Experienced
Of course, there cannot be all benefits of travel nursing without a few cons.
When I was a travel nurse, although I enjoyed it most of the time, I got homesick a fair number of times, too.
I left my husband and son back home in Virginia for thirteen weeks at a time. It was not easy; however, they planned many trips to visit me, and I also returned home in between contracts.
I found that taking a few things with my favorite scents or objects that reminded me of friends and family helped a lot.
My husband thought it would be fun for us to play Scrabble online together a few nights a week. We had fun trying to beat each other while discussing the day’s events.
For us, it was a great way to catch up and stay connected.
At the time, I was also working on my master’s degree, and my son was attending college, so we would proofread each other’s papers from time to time.
How one copes with homesickness varies from person to person but bringing small reminders from home and trying to stay as connected as possible might make all the difference.
Want to Move On? Great. Want to Stay? Also, Great!
Once the contract date comes, a travel nurse will have the option to relocate or stay in the same location. This is a wonderful benefit to have.
Although all nursing jobs have great job security, sprinkling an opportunity to travel to a new place on top may not sound like a bad idea!
I stayed at the New Hampshire hospital for two contracts, which was 26 weeks. If it hadn’t been for the upcoming winter season and the treacherous snow, I would have probably stayed for a third contract!
However, this is a huge benefit of travel nursing because I was not forced to stay somewhere I no longer wanted to be, and I was able to go south for a warmer location!
Do the Benefits of Travel Nursing Outweigh the Cons?
There are so many benefits of travel nursing that it would be impossible to discuss them all here.
It is both a rewarding and enriching experience for those who can handle the ramifications: traveling, being independent, and living and working in unfamiliar surroundings.
Although it can be hard to switch gears at times, once the adjustment period comes, a new assignment can become ‘home’ quickly.
My advice: pick a state you have never been to and have fun learning about it, its surroundings, the people, food, and everything in between!
Enjoy meeting new friends and learning about new protocols and procedures in the facilities. Travel nursing can take you places you have never been and teach you things you might never know.
I would undoubtedly say, the benefits of travel nursing absolutely outweigh the cons.
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