What is a travel nurse?

Nurses. Who Travel. Travel nurses! Travel Nursing is not a dream. This is not even crazy. This is something a lot of nurses choose to do. Most end up so glad they took the leap into becoming a traveler. I myself am one of those “crazy travelers” who could not be happier I said yes to this lifestyle and career path! It takes a bit of bravery, a slice of preparation and clinical experience, but to be really honest: It’s not hard to get started. Many times the hardest part is just making the decision to go for it!

How many travel nurses are there?

It is a population that is estimated to be around 40,000 nurses in the USA. Nurses who pack their bags (and for many, their RV’s or converted vans) and decide to live a life with more adventure and more freedom. They get to design a career and life on their terms.

Pros of Travel Nursing:

  • Low commitment: contracts are only 13 weeks at a time (usually)
  • Nurses have control over where they go
  • More money and with a portion of it being tax-free (almost always)
  • Freedom, a career that is flexible
  • Fewer office politics
  • Ability to take extended time off to hike the Appalachian Trail, travel to Bali, or just spend time with your family throughout the year
  • Avoiding nurse and caregiver burnout
  • It’s not hard to get started! The hardest part is just your own mindset and deciding to go for it. Many of you could be starting your first travel assignment in just three weeks from today!

Cons of travel nursing:

  • Less stability, contracts do get canceled (rare)
  • You are a contractor, which means no paid sick days or vacations. You get paid hours you work only (typically)
  • There are not contracts in every location, you need to have some flexibility
  • Finding housing in each location
  • Paperwork and credentialing between each contract
  • Learning to negotiate and communicate with multiple recruiters
  • Being comfortable with being uncomfortable, you are constantly embracing the unknown and being the new girl or guy!
  • Minimal orientation. You must be clinically skilled and confident and be able to see patients right away.

Who travel nursing is best for:

  • Nurses who want to travel!
  • Nurses who have at least 2 years experience total
  • Nurses who have at least 1-year experience in the specialty they want to travel in
  • Nurses who have strong references, can pass a drug screen, and rock a skills checklist and phone interview
  • Nurses who can hit the ground running and be a great nurse for the facility that needs them to help
  • Nurses willing to be flexible. Yes, you will probably need to float and roll with helping your facility (who is paying major dollars for you) in the ways they need.

Why does the travel nursing industry exist?

Two words: Nursing shortage.

Facilities and patients need nurses. Permanent staff nurses sometimes can’t cover all the patients. Or they have babies and need some time off. Or they go on strike. Or they are learning a new computer program and need time to train. Or there is a seasonal spike of patients each year. So a traveler can come on in for 13 weeks and help out while the facility is either trying to hire their own permanent staff or giving someone maternity leave (etc, etc).

Travelers are expensive, yes. But it’s not crazy for a facility to want us. Finding their own staff, interviewing them, dealing with resum├ęs, onboarding, orienting, offering benefits, liabilities… that is really hard and expensive too. Their PRN pool might not be dependable or big enough for when they need help quick- so here we are! Travelers are a great solution.

We are meant to be skilled, talented, credentialed, and ready to help out. When we come in with a friendly disposition and in a mindset of service, we are loved and really helpful to facilities around the whole country. If you are interested in being a travel nurse, grab a latte, and keep on learning. You could be just weeks away from being one of us.

Cheers to life on your terms!

Laura Latimer

Laura Latimer

Travel OT and Founder of Nomadicare

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