Traveling nurses move around the country filling temporary positions that can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year. Many health care facilities hire these medical professionals to fill seasonal demands, shortages, or positions waiting to be permanently filled. Any licensed RN or LPN can be a traveling nurse, however nurses with experience in specialty areas such as a surgical or ER are in high demand.
A career as a traveling health care worker is attractive because it gives people the opportunity to fulfill their dreams of traveling and helping others while they earn a decent income. This career has many perks, but there is also a downside to consider before forging ahead on this path.
Pros of Travel Nursing
You’ll gain valuable experience. The role of a traveling health care professional varies. Not only will you get to work in different cities, you’ll get to work at various types of facilities. One week you may work in a rehabilitative center and the next, a surgical facility.
This allows you the opportunity to broaden your skills and learn new ways of doing things. Your experience will also look good on your resume. Your adventures as a traveling nursing pro will signal to potential employees that you are adaptable and you work well under pressure.
There are networking opportunities. As a traveling nurse, you will meet many professionals in the field. If you ever decide to settle down, the connections you create can make it easier for you to find a permanent position in a medical facility. In turn, you will enjoy your daily routine in your scrubs.
There’s never a dull moment. Most people don’t get to see in a lifetime some of the places you’ll get to visit as a traveling healthcare professional. Since the people and places change frequently, it’s hard to get bored in the role. During your off hours, you may get to explore the sights, try new foods and meet people from all walks of life. In doing so, you will gain a wealth of knowledge from other cultures.
Some recruiting agencies will even allow you to choose which cities you want to work in. If you’re available when positions are open in these areas, you’ll get to fill them. This gives you the chance to visit specific places and landmarks you want to see.
Travel expenses are covered. When you’re summoned to a job in another city, most recruitment agencies will give you a stipend for housing and other reasonable expenses. So in addition to your salary, you’ll get to live rent free while you enjoy the experience of a new location. Perhaps such a lifestyle can convince you to live more environmentally friendly.
Downsides of the Career
You get lonely. The excitement of traveling and meeting new people can be overshadowed by loneliness. When you’re traveling around every few weeks, you don’t stay in one place long enough to establish roots or forge personal relationships. When you come home and shut the door, the walls of loneliness can close in fast. This has been lessened with the growth of online video and other ways to connect online.
Family gets left behind. If you have a spouse or children, uprooting them every time you get an assignment is not realistic. A spouse may have his or her own career and the kids may have school obligations that keep them from traveling with you. Depending on your schedule and how often you are in your hometown, you may not see your family much. Assignments may interfere with your ability to be with your family on important occasions such as birthdays and holidays.
There is job uncertainty. Since every position you fill as a traveling health care professional is on a temporary basis, there is a level of job uncertainty. Unless you work closely with the agency, you never know when the next assignment will come in. Although there is a shortage in the field, it’s possible to go weeks without work.
The ultimate decision of whether or not to become a travel nurse is up to you. If traveling and working in different environments is your thing, the occupation may be a perfect fit. However, if family, friends and stability are the things you value most, you might want to reconsider.
[Photo Credit: Nightingale Nurses]