Travel nursing is not for everybody. While there are a lot of enticing travel nursing benefits, it takes a special kind of person to adapt to so many fast-paced changes in new environments. If you’re considering travel nursing, it’s important that you carefully evaluate the pros and cons to help you decide if it’s right for you.
That’s why we’ve put together this balanced list of the pros and cons of travel nursing so that you can prepare yourself and know what the job requires and if the environment is a good fit for you. Let’s get to it.
What are the Pros of Travel Nursing?
1. High Travel Nurse Salary
One of the biggest benefits of travel nursing that often gets a nurse’s attention is the salary. Travel nurses earn a considerable amount more than their colleagues who work in permanent staff positions. I jumped my pay by an extra $15 per hour when I began working as a travel nurse.
If you look at the figures on Indeed, it shows that travel nurses make approximately 20 percent more than all registered nurses (RNs).
2. Valuable Experience to Advance Your Nursing Career
Working as a travel nurse is a challenging role which will give you plenty of opportunities to grow as a professional. Every assignment you take. Every hospital you work at. All of these new environments and skills you learn will give you valuable experience that is arguably advanced to that gained by staff nurses.
By seeing how the dynamics of different hospitals, staff, and environments in healthcare run, you are learning a broader understanding of the nursing profession and the various roles nurses play.
3. Ability to See the Country
If you have a knack for travel and adventure, travel nursing is definitely a career path you should consider. Not only do you get to explore new places around the country, but you also get to earn a considerable amount of money to do so.
4. Opportunities to Learn New Specialties as a Nurse
Not every hospital is a good place to learn other specialties, as many of them require you to have ample experience in a specialty to work there as a travel nurse. However, being in different hospitals and environments exposes you to more opportunities to try new specialties. Gaining experience in different areas of nursing strengthens your career and allows you to find the nursing role that you enjoy the most.
5. Dodge Workplace Drama and Politics
Every workplace has its own issues when it comes to management issues and dealing with coworkers. However, in the nursing environment, the long hours worked coupled with high-stress situations and constant interactions with people can create a very volatile environment. If you are a staff nurse and found yourself in this situation, it could be a bad scenario.
However, when you encounter a hostile work environment or rivalry between staff members, as a travel nurse, you just need to remind yourself “not my circus, not my monkeys.” No matter what the situation is, you are only going to be there temporarily, so enjoy that liberty and avoid workplace conflicts. Besides, you are likely going to be so busy working that you won’t have time to even think about getting into the drama.
What are the Cons of Travel Nursing?
1. Time Away from Friends and Family
Spending time away from the people and places you love and care about can be very difficult. In fact, it’s this very reason that a lot of nurses decide not to pursue travel nursing in the first place. However, there are certain scenarios in life that are conducive to a travel nursing career.
- You are in a stage of life with limited family and social responsibilities. When I worked as a travel nurse, I often met nurses who were young and just starting out in life. A lot of them were single and did not yet have children, which gave them the liberty to come and go as they pleased as a travel nurse. This also allowed them to explore new parts of the country which gave them opportunities to meet new people and decide where they wanted to eventually settle down.
- You’re determined to make it work. If you do have family and friends that you cannot leave for that period of time, there is the option of choosing a travel assignment that is relatively close to home. While most hospitals have a policy that you must live a certain distance away from the facility in order to get paid for the travel reimbursement (typically 60-mile radius rule applies), that means that you can find opportunities that are just a couple hours drive away.
- You can travel together as a family. When I took assignments as a travel nurse, it was a family affair. My husband, three-year-old child, dachshund and I went to assignments all together in our RV. In our situation, this scenario worked well in the winter months as my husband’s tree service was a seasonal business.
- You can work with a friend. A lot of travel nurses buddy up and go on assignments together. This provides more than just companionship while you’re away from home, but it also provides the opportunity to earn more money because you can split the housing costs and pocket the extra stipend money.
2. Frequent Re-Location
It can sometimes feel like you don’t really have a place to call home when you are moving around a lot. This can be a benefit though too if you enjoy experiencing new places. It’s a different lifestyle and at times it may feel stressful to relocate, but after a while, you might be surprised how much you get used to packing up and hitting the next scene.
3. Lack of Seniority Advancement
As a travel nurse, you might not be able to pick up specific shifts, and you will typically float around quite a bit. It’s best to go into the role knowing this and expecting such. Floating may seem frustrating, but it actually provides the opportunity to learn new skills and environments and never get bored.
4. Paperwork for Days
With each new travel nursing assignment comes an extensive set of paperwork that needs to be completed. Once you’ve taken an assignment or two and get the hang of it, you should be able to know what to expect and already have the majority of your travel nurse documents on hand ready to go. Also, keep in mind that a good travel nursing agency will assist in completing this paperwork and do much of it on your behalf.
5. Animosity from Staff Nurses
While most of the staff nurses you encounter will be happy for the help and appreciative that there is extra staff around, don’t be surprised if you encounter nurses who display resentful feelings toward you. Don’t take it personally. These nurses know that you are making much more money than they are to do the exact same job, and to them, it can feel unfair.
Are You Ready to Get Started in Travel Nursing?
If you’ve weighed the pros and cons of travel nursing and feel like this is a field you want to explore, there’s no better time to get into this lucrative field than now.
With housing prices at all-time highs and the economy in the precarious situation it’s been in since 2008, this is a great time to earn extra money as a travel nurse and have all your housing needs covered for you.
At Elite Specialty Staffing, our nurses always come first. We are here to help you advance your nursing career. Our staffing specialists will help you along every step of the way and make it easy on you to apply for and accept travel nursing jobs. Call us today at 208-378-1338 to learn about our numerous opportunities.