Want to become a travel nurse? Then this post is for you. I’ve written out an honest list of the cons and pros (yes, normally a person would say the pros and cons of travel nursing, but I like to finish with the positive) that go with working as a travel nurse.
Keep in mind that the cons shouldn’t serve as a deterrent. Take the time to really think about who you are as a person, and make note of the cons. Preparing yourself will make it easier to adjust when you encounter them.
We’ll start out with the hard stuff first.
What are the Cons of Being a Travel Nurse?
- The comparing. Social media has highlighted our human tendency to compare our lives with those around us, but social media isn’t the only place we make comparisons. As a travel nurse, moving from facility to facility across the nation, you are bound to see yourself comparing a former assignment to a current one. Don’t be too hard on yourself about this one. It’s unrealistic to expect that you won’t make comparisons. Every facility has its own regulations and processes of doing things. Sometimes you will feel like one place or process is better than a former one. In these situations, remember to follow the rules and regulations of your profession and the facility you are currently assigned to. Maybe someday in your nursing career, you will find yourself in a position of advocacy or administration where this experience could help you in writing policies to improve the lives of patients and your fellow nurses!
- The loneliness. Yes, being a travel nurse can be lonely. Being the new person on staff, and a temporary one at that, can make you feel like an outsider a lot of the time. This is exacerbated by the fact that your position is to fill a gap in healthcare staffing, temporarily. To stave off that lonely feeling, make an effort to connect with your coworkers and your community. Some travel nurses even travel in pairs, taking assignments in the same cities so that they have a familiar face to come home to when their shift is over.
- The goodbyes. While it can be exciting and fun to see the country and meet new people, you will be making connections with good people that you will have to say “goodbye” to. This can be hard on you emotionally as you prepare to move on to another destination, no matter how good for your career or exciting the next destination is. The digital age can make it easier to maintain these personal connections after you leave, provided you put in the effort.
- The taxes. There are definite tax benefits to being a travel nurse, but because these benefits are often tax-free, you will need to be meticulous in keeping a record of your expenses. This can be a bit tedious but is immensely important. I recommend you forfeit any idea you may have of doing your own taxes and hire a professional. You want to be sure you are credited with all the benefits your situation allows, and avoid any tax missteps with the misinformation flying around on the internet. An example of common misconceptions is the 50-mile rule, read my post, “The Truth About Travel Nurse Taxes and the 50-mile Rule” to get a taste of the complexity and dangerous misinformation that persists.
Now for my favorite part; all the great things that come with being a travel nurse!
What are the Pros of Being a Travel Nurse?
- The exploration. You get to travel the country, and see and do amazing things in your downtime. If you want to learn to surf, you don’t need a two-week vacation and a plane ticket and hotel. You just need a travel assignment that will land you near the ocean, so you can learn to surf on your days off. If you want to see historic battlefields from the Civil War, or see the Grand Canyon, or walk the Vegas Strip, or learn to snowboard, or wander in fields of blooming lavender, you can! Make a list of places you want to see, experiences you want to have, or things you already love to do. Travel nursing can land you in a destination that can make so much possible for you, outside of your work.
- The connections. You will have the opportunity to make connections with people you otherwise would never have met. Cultural differences abound within the United States and you are primed to experience them! What an amazing opportunity to have friends of various cultures and different walks of life in communities and hospitals across the nation.
- The food. Although we all live in the same nation, our tastes and tricks in the kitchen vary by geography. Sample cultural favorites in their birthplaces; your taste buds and tummy can experience your travels, same as your eyes and mind!
- The career. The potential to build the career that you want is boundless in travel nursing because you aren’t limited to a certain geographical location. If a career is very important to you, plan your assignments accordingly. Make a list of positions that interest you, then list the building block positions needed to get there, and choose your destinations that way!
- The money. Being a travel nurse can be lucrative, and while I agree with the saying that “money doesn’t buy happiness”; it sure is important to our feelings of security, and allows us to have experiences we otherwise could not have. Travel nursing pay is often higher than that of the normal staff RN in facilities, and that combined with benefits offered by travel nursing agencies and the tax benefits can make it very financially rewarding.
Do your research on our travel nursing agency, Elite Specialty Staffing, and make note of the great benefits we offer.