Whether you are already familiar with travel nursing or have never heard the term before, you can get a pretty good idea about it just from its name. I mean when you come across a job that has “Travel” right in the title I bet it automatically piques your interest. But like any other occupation, there are pros and cons to travel nursing.
Before picking a career path, it is important to weigh in its advantages and disadvantages. To make the decision easy for you, we have compiled a list of the 5 most significant pros and cons of travel nursing, plus the solutions to those cons.
So don’t worry if you are unsure whether it is smart to give up your staff nurse job and hit the road as a travel nurse. By the end of this article, you will have a clear idea if this is the career for you.
Pros and cons of Travel Nursing #1: Traveling
Pro: You get to travel the country
That’s a no-brainer; it’s right in the name. If you are someone with a little bit of wanderlust, and the idea of traveling to different places excites you, then you should look no further.
Think about it! People usually use traveling to get away from their jobs. Travel nursing is a profession where traveling is half the job. You don’t get many professions which offer that.
On your assignments, you’ll get to travel to all parts of the country – From the sunny beaches of Florida to the snowy mountains of Alaska. Your assignments will take you from one state to another. Travel nursing is in-demand everywhere.
Nurses are often required in remote areas where the medical facilities aren’t equipped to deal with the extra load. This way you get to see exotic places and roads less traveled by, and meet people you wouldn’t get to meet otherwise.
Travel is essential for your growth; as a person and as a professional. As quoted by Paula Bendfeldt: “Travel opens your heart, broadens your mind, and fills your life with stories to tell.” You cannot get these experiences any way other than traveling.
Con: You have to move homes constantly
Traveling to a new place every few months is no easy task. Nursing by itself is a demanding job, add traveling to it and it becomes all the more daunting.
Your home is your place of comfort. But being a travel nurse means you may not stay in one place for too long. This constant moving can be too much for some.
When you move to a new territory, finding a good place to live is a headache. There are multiple parameters to consider; such as rent, location, distance from work, and living conditions. It takes a lot of time and effort to find a place to live, only to move again a few months later.
Ideally speaking, your living arrangements should be the responsibility of your recruiting agency. Sadly, not all recruiters are that considerate. However, if you are smart enough to sign with a recruiter that offers housing arrangements then you can rest easy while they take care of your lodging.
At Origin, you can rest easy knowing these hassles are not yours to deal with. With your living arrangements sorted, you can focus on the more important things.
Alternatively, you can get an RV. It may sound a bit extravagant but trust me, it is worth the investment. Many travel nurses have made their lives simpler by making an RV their home. Buying an RV is a one-time investment and it makes your job much easier.
Pros and cons of Travel Nursing #2: Income
Pro: You earn more than a staff nurse
A quick search on indeed.com shows that the hourly rate for a travel nurse compared to a staff nurse is actually lower. Still, travel nurses make a lot more than staff nurses. This is because while a staff nurse’s salary is taxed as a whole, a travel nurse’s salary is split in chunks. Travel, housing, and food allowances that travel nurses receive are completely tax-free.
Due to low taxes and extra allowances that travel nurses get, their overall earning is more than that of a staff nurse. Many staff nurses who switched to travel nursing claim they were earning almost twice what they were getting at a hospital. That’s some serious moolah!
Con: Your salary depends on your assignment
Not all nurses are equal. Some nurses earn more than others, depending upon the nature and complexity of the assignment. If you are thinking of earning the most for your hard work, check out The Highest Paid Travel Nurse Specialties in 2020.
Another factor that determines how much you earn is your location. Every state has a base pay-scale for nurses. Getting assigned to a state that pays their staff nurses lower than the national average would naturally make you the higher earner. You can check out the list of Nine highest paying states for travel nurses in 2020 to get a better idea.
Sign up with a recruiter that pays you well. There is no reason for you to undersell your skills. A good recruiter will acknowledge your expertise and pay you accordingly. For example, Origin employees make an average of 10% more than industry standards.
Pros and cons of travel nursing #3: Family and friends
Pro: You get to meet new people
Well, that pro kinda depends on whether you’re a social person or not. Living and working with people from all over the country is a good opportunity to make new friends.
Working with people from different backgrounds is a good way to learn about new cultures, values, and languages. If you are someone who likes to mingle and make different kinds of friends then this opportunity is golden for you.
Con: You have to leave your family and existing friends
Traveling constantly means saying goodbye to your family and loved ones for long periods. It also means that you don’t get to make long-term friendships in one place. These are the reasons why travel nursing is considered a job for loners.
Indulge yourself in hobbies. Join social activities. Get a pet. Go out and socialize. These would keep your mind off of the feelings of loneliness or homesickness.
Travel Nursing with Family is another option. Many nurses have made travel nursing an enjoyable lifestyle for them and their families. Check this article out if you want to know how to make travel nursing with family work for you.
Pros and cons of Travel Nursing #4: Experience
Pro: You gain more experience in less time
A travel nurse’s job isn’t fixed. They have to be able to fit any role required of them. The benefit of this is that they gain a wide array of experiences under their belts.
A staff nurse would spend their tenure working at a single facility, usually in a single specialty. A travel nurse gets to learn new things with each assignment. Travel nurses may be called upon to fill in different types of nursing roles, depending on the staff shortage.
The variety in the job roles of a travel nurse is why travel nursing is a great resume builder. Travel nurses become more seasoned in a fraction of time compared to their stationary counterparts.
Con: You start anew with each assignment
Whether you’re a New Travel Nurse Starting a career, or a seasoned veteran; on each assignment, you sit low on the pecking order. To the staff nurses, you are an outsider, and you will be treated as such.
You should also expect some resentment to your presence and becoming a part of the house team may take a little while. Travel nurses are often given tasks that no other nurse would take. Getting your coworkers to warm up to you may take a little effort.
Make sure to be kind and courteous. Understand your role and perform your duty diligently. Respect the hierarchy and be patient with your coworkers. This will only ensure you have a pleasant stay for the length of your assignment.
Pros and cons of Travel Nursing #5: Qualification and Licensure
Pro: You can start with low experience
Travel nursing traditionally required a few years of staff nursing experience from a candidate. However, recent nationwide health conditions have reduced this requirement to a point where a newly graduated nurse with a few months of experience is qualified enough for the job.
There has never been a better time to start your travel nursing career than now. You can check out the detailed and up-to-date requirements for becoming a travel nurse here.
Con: You need to get multiple licenses
While many states accept a Compact RN license to practice at their hospitals, you may need to get multiple licenses for each state you need to practice in.
This is a cumbersome process. Getting a license in each new state is often a time-consuming procedure. It is also bothersome to get to learn and fulfill the licensure requirements which differ state to state.
Add to that the paperwork necessary to start your assignments and the hassle becomes just too much. This is another thing keeping a travel nurse occupied during a good portion of their assignment.
This is where your travel nurse agency comes into play again. A good recruiter will arrange for timely fulfillment of your paperwork, and guide you through the licensure process of each state they want to assign you to.
A good recruitment agency will take you through the hiring process without you worrying about the fine print. They will ensure you have your paperwork ready when starting an assignment. A good recruiter will support you at each phase of your assignment. Origin, for example, offers all those facilities for a smooth travel nursing experience through and through.
So there you have it. The five most significant pros and cons of travel nursing you’ll probably experience. No doubt that while travel nursing has its fair share of perks, it does come with some compromises. No job is built to suit the needs of every individual. Travel nursing is no different.
You have to be able to put up with the schedule presented to you. To learn to travel light and travel often. You will leave some memories behind but will get to create new ones. Your ability to make connections and build trust will come into play.
You can also see that a number of those cons can be nullified if you have a responsible and supportive recruiter. A good recruiter can make those hardships easy for you. Travel nursing is a challenging job, but a good recruiter will share the burden with you.
At Origin, we take care of our own. Origin nurses not only get paid more than market value but are taken care of at every point in their nursing assignment. From licensing to lodging to travel arrangements, Origin will be by your side. Apply now, and live a life few get to live.
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