Nursing is a challenging profession. From long work hours to unbelievable student loans, it’s hard to have fun when you’re starting as a registered nurse. On top of that, you have to stress about making ends meet and paying your utility bills, rent, insurance premiums, and food. All of this can result in burnout and a lack of fun activity in a nurse’s life.
However, there is a way to do what you love while also having fun. Travel nursing has seen a recent boom in its numbers ever since the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged entire cities, which resulted in many hospitals becoming short-staffed. Many hospitals looked to reputable travel nursing agencies to fill the gaps in their health personnel.
Travel nursing is a very valuable profession in regular times too. Many people choose it for the flexibility it affords them, combined with all the new experiences they get due to this job. So, do you want to know everything about travel nursing and why it is an excellent opportunity? Let’s dive in!
What Is Travel Nursing?
Travel nursing is the practice of sending out registered nurses to work in temporary capacities in short-staffed hospitals. A travel nursing agency typically employs these travel nurses that hospitals contact when they need an experienced nurse for a short-term role in their hospital.
While many people would prefer the promise of a stable job to the allure of travel nursing, it is a very popular profession. Many people wish to have the freedom of working temporary positions in cities all over the country. It allows them to see new places and experience new things through no expenditure of their own.
Why Are Travel Nurses Important?
Travel nursing is an essential part of any healthcare system as it allows hospitals to address staffing concerns without going through the entire process of hiring an employee. In simple words, the travel nursing agency ‘lends’ nurses to hospitals when they need them.
It is a quick and efficient way of filling in the gaps when nurses go on maternity leave, fall sick, or the hospital sees an unexpected patient boom, as seen in the COVID-19 pandemic. The hiring of travel nurses in short-staffed hospitals is linked to lower patient mortalities and better healthcare in all hospitals across the country.
We know that travel nurses hail from varying cultural and ethnic backgrounds. When they work at a hospital, they bring a fresh perspective otherwise missing from that environment. The hiring of travel nurses promotes tolerance and friendliness to people from other religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
How Can You Get The Best Job Opportunities As A Travel Nurse?
Travel nursing is a job, just like any other. You should know that all jobs require you to scope out the market. If you are a qualified travel nurse with at least two years of experience under your belt, you should apply to several recruiters and agencies at once. These agencies will then reach out to you if they think they are a good fit for you.
However, one should remember that a travel nurse shouldn’t go with the first recruiter they see. You should always weigh your options before deciding on a recruiter. Make sure that their insurance packages, travel benefits and opportunities align with your vision as a travel nurse.
Perks That Travel Nurses Enjoy
Most people will question why you should give up your stability and the promise of a steady income to become a travel nurse. However, a little bit of research will tell you that there is more to this profession than meets the eye.
So, what are some advantages to becoming a travel nurse? Let’s see.
1. Flexible Schedule
The healthcare sector is a very draining one to have a job in. The hours are often long with almost no breaks, and vacations are a far-off dream. As a travel nurse, you can arrange your schedule in such a way that you’re free for important family events such as weddings and birthdays.
In addition, you can take breaks between assignments without worrying about losing your job. You also have more freedom over your weekly schedule as compared to staff nurses.
2. Better Pay
Travel nurses are typically better-paid than staff nurses. This compensation is due to their job’s nomadic nature and the exhaustion of constantly traveling and settling into new places.
3. Fewer Work Politics
If you’re the kind of person who does not like being involved in workplace drama, being a travel nurse is the perfect occupation for you. You can choose to keep to yourself and complete your assignments without indulging in work politics in this job.
4. More Travelling
All that millennials and Gen Z want to do is see the world, and what opportunity to do that other than for your job? You can choose assignments that send you to places you’ve always wanted to see. As an extended resident, you can explore them to your heart’s content and play the tourist for as long as you wish.
In addition, traveling will allow you to make new friends and establish contacts who can help your career down the line.
It sounds like living out of a suitcase is not so bad after all, is it?
How Can You Become A Travel Nurse?
All of it sounds promising, doesn’t it? Lucky for you, travel nursing has a set of rather basic requirements that you need to fulfill before registering to become a travel nurse. Furthermore, you don’t even need decades of experience to be considered. Travel nursing agencies are relatively flexible about your work experience.
Requirements to become a travel nurse:
- Active Registered Nurse License (RN) or you need to be a Licensed Practice Nurse (LPN).
- A minimum of two years of work experience.
- Basic Life Support (BLS) certification.
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification.
- Specialized credentials for the specialty you wish to apply for, such as an NRP for labor and postpartum care.
- State licensure, preferably a state that is apart of the nurse license compact (NLC)
And, that’s it! The last requirement is optional as it only applies to travel nurses who wish to work in specialized units such as critical care or labor and delivery. If you fulfill the rest of the requirements, you can apply to any travel nursing agency and get hired for the job of a lifetime!
What Are The Duties Of A Travel Nurse?
Now, let’s talk shop. If you’re a nurse surfing the internet for new opportunities to practice your craft, you probably want to know what constitutes a travel nurse’s duties. Essentially, travel nursing duties are similar to the duties of a nurse in any hospital, but we’ll set it out in some detail for you.
In addition, if you’re a nurse hoping to work in a specialized unit, you’re going to have duties different from other nurses. However, some tasks are common to all travel nurses. Let’s discuss those.
Your first duty will be to communicate with the patient. This duty includes learning the patient’s medical history and what their present concerns are. In addition, you will need to counsel the patient about their diagnosis and condition. If a patient is admitted, you will need to make sure that their medication and associated care are provided in a timely and professional manner.
In your time as a travel nurse, you will need to be flexible enough to collaborate well with a wide variety of people. This list includes doctors, nurses, the cleaning staff, and other individuals who ensure the quality of patient care and the smooth running of hospitals.
What Do Travel Nurses Earn?
You can live quite comfortably working as a travel nurse because the salaries are better than those of nurses working permanent jobs most of the time.
On average, travel nurses make up to $8,203 per month. This salary can go up if you’ve worked more hours or are eligible for any bonuses. On average, the annual salary for travel nurses is $99,202, with steady increments as the travel nurse spends more years working and racks up more experience. Here are the pay averages by state from ZipRecruiter.
You should do your research thoroughly before committing to this plan by ensuring that the salary is well worth the effort of uprooting your life every few months.
Factors Influencing Travel Nurse Salaries
Specialties aren’t the only things influencing the ups and downs of travel nurse salaries. Working in each state comes with its set of prerequisites, challenges, and advantages. To balance them, most hospitals have variable salaries.
For example, a hospital in New York will pay a higher salary to a travel nurse than a hospital in Cleveland, owing to the high living costs associated with The Big Apple.
So, what are some factors that affect travel nurse salaries? Let’s find out.
As mentioned earlier, which state you choose to work in has a direct impact on your salary. You will earn more in bustling metropolises such as those in New York, Washington, California, and Massachusetts.
It is usually because of how expensive it is to live in those states. With rents and utilities much more costly than in other states, it’s pretty challenging to survive in these cities with low pay. So, the hospitals in these locations ensure that their package is more attractive by offering higher salaries than others.
In contrast, most rural Southern states pay lower salaries to travel nurses as the living costs associated with these states are much lower than those in other states.
While this is not an ever-present factor, demand plays a huge role in deciding travel nurse salaries. When a state is short-staffed, such as during a natural disaster or a deadly pandemic such as the COVID-19, hospitals will even pay up to $10,000 per week to travel nurses.
This factor is one of the reasons why travel nursing has become so popular in recent times. Crowded places such as New York City have relied on travel nurses to manage the coronavirus crisis throughout the past year.
Nature Of Shifts
Most travel nurses are asked to take on assignments that require them to do night shifts. The reason behind this is simple: the day shift is covered by the hospital’s nurses. However, night shifts do pay better, so if you wish to bulk up your savings or even live in style, night shifts are the way to go. With COVID demand, 48 hour work weeks are obtainable too.
Nursing is a challenging profession. While travel nursing is an excellent option for people who wish to see the world before settling down, it is vital to make sure that it is the right fit for you. So, do your research, ask your peers and check if you fulfill all the requirements. If you’re satisfied on all counts, welcome to your new life!
If this article has convinced you to apply for a travel nursing position, let us know.