Travel nursing takes a special kind of person. If you are an adventure-seeker who works hard, values independence, and is eager to learn, the life of the traveler might just be for you.
Here are 6 reasons to give travel nursing a try.
1. You’re looking for adventure.
Helen Keller once wrote, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
The world wouldn’t have these words to inspire them to seek new experiences if Anne Sullivan, Keller’s teacher and caretaker, had stayed home. Sullivan traveled thousands of miles to care for Keller and teach her to read and write.
Every day, nurses like you decide to leave the comfort and routine of their permanent placements and seek out adventures in caretaking. Travel nurses love their “mini-vacations” between assignments and on their days off. They can learn new cities, hike new wildernesses, or suntan on new beaches.
Along with unique locales and built-in explorations, you get to meet people from all walks of life. One travel nurse says, “I have made some lifelong friends with people I met while traveling.” You will meet people who never would’ve crossed your path if you had stayed in one place.
2. You want to fast-track your professional development.
Make no mistake — travel nurses work as hard as they play. The adventure continues in every new ward or medical clinic. They get to see how nurses across the nation run their units. And with each CNO they work with, each new skill they master, and each new patient they help, they grow professionally and become stronger nurses.
Build a strong network of connections across the nation.
Often, the beginning of a position is a golden time. You are eager to learn the ropes and poised to make a good first impression. Travel nursing allows you to stay in that golden time, all the time.
You can make stellar first impressions with nurse leaders at facilities around the country. You can also forge strong connections with other nurses like you.
This wide network sets you up nicely for the future. If you want to return to a facility or settle down with a permanent placement, you will have a team of colleagues ready to help.
Watch your skills checklist grow.
Your experience travel nursing can also be a quick way to up your skills game.
Traveling is “a great way to improve your resume,” says one travel nurse. Another traveler describes being floated onto an oncology ward – with zero oncology experience. She struggled throughout the night to best care for her patients. By the morning, she had gained valuable initial oncology skills and was determined to get more.
Opportunities like this abound in travel nursing, where you are there to fill-in, sometimes regardless of specialty. With each assignment, your resume becomes that much more attractive.
This can be a boon for green nurses especially. The skills gap can make landing a traditional nursing job tricky if you’re not already a seasoned professional (quite the Catch-22!). New nurses who turn to the traveler’s life after their initial year of experience will find their skill sets grow exponentially.
Get a bit softer.
And it’s not just your clinical skills. Traveling helps you grow your soft skills, too.
Soft skills, like emotional intelligence, expert communication, and adaptability, are increasingly important in healthcare jobs. Patient satisfaction is directly linked to a facility’s revenue. Hospitals need nurses who can both start an IV and comfort a distraught parent.
Traveling is an education in the softer side of nursing.
- Being the new kid on the block with every new assignment will push you to be a better communicator.
- You will learn to adapt to — and thrive in — situations you never dreamed of.
- Again and again, you will strike out on your own. This will bolster your confidence in your nursing skills and make you more independent.
- You’ll learn new units, supervisors, colleagues, and towns. This will improve your ability to think on your feet and deepen your critical thinking skills.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Seasoned travel nurses prize the personal and professional growth they gain through their work.
Expand your cultural competence.
Cultural competence is important from nursing school to the hospital room. Your sensitivity to patients’ unique backgrounds improves your ability to give the best care possible. As the nation become increasingly diverse, your comfort with people of different races, ethnicities, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds will also make you a better coworker.
Travel nursing helps you with a crucial aspect of strong cultural competence: gathering cultural knowledge. By traveling the country, you will constantly encounter diverse people and new experiences.
- On an assignment in Brooklyn, you might switch off the lights for an Orthodox Jewish family praying over their sick father on Shabbat.
- The next month in Wichita, you may advocate for a transgender patient who wants to be moved to a private room to avoid confrontation.
- You will also be challenged to adapt to a plethora of nursing cultures, from the strictest hierarchies to the most collaborative teams.
Each assignment will allow you to practice and improve your cultural competency skills. You’ll hone a deeper understanding of American diversity.
Cross-cultural skills look great on your resume, too. They’ll make you stand out from nurses with more limited world experiences.
3. You want to make more money.
Higher pay is a great draw of travel nursing. The average travel nurse salary is $67,000 annually, 5% more than the average nurse salary. Some travel nurses earn upwards of $100,000 per year. You can follow the money and go to the locations that offer the best salary.
Imagine what you could do with this additional money.
- Pay off student loans and other debts
- Travel internationally between placements
- Buy a new car
- Grow a nest egg
- Build up your retirement funds
Travel nursing comes with other financial perks, too.
- The average bonus per 13-week stint is between $1000-$1500 — it pays to move around.
- Travelers can increase their earnings even more by working double shifts and overtime.
- Your travel nurse agency will often cover the cost of relocation.
- Either your agency or your hospital will provide a housing stipend.
4. You’re looking for flexibility and freedom.
A common refrain of travel nurses is that they can handle anything for 13 weeks. Unlike traditional nursing, if you don’t like your assignment, you can move on to the next one soon.
This kind of freedom can
- prevent burnout,
- increase job satisfaction over traditional nurses, and
- help you retain enthusiasm for your profession.
You have freedom to choose the assignments you most want. If the salary, location, environment, duration, or any other factor doesn’t suit your life, you can turn down an assignment and keep looking.
Travel nurses also have unparalleled flexibility. There’s no need to schedule time off for holidays, extended vacations, children’s graduations, or other life events. You can pause between assignments as long as you wish and schedule your jobs based on your needs.
5. You want to stay out of internal politics.
Every hospital has its share of internal politics. Strong feelings about bureaucratic decisions, old struggles between colleagues, and unit gossip can all sap a nurse’s vital professional energy.
As a traveler, you can rise above hospital politics. You can remain unengaged with the arguments about policy and complaints about leadership. Many travel nurses cite this as a huge advantage. They encourage newbies to embrace their freedom and always stay above the fray.
Avoiding hospital politics is about more than just peace of mind. One traveler notes that freedom from hospital politics has made her a better, more compassionate nurse. She is able to focus solely on the well-being of her patients without being distracted by hospital strife.
6. You want to help the people who need it the most.
When hospitals are understaffed, patients suffer. Research indicates that the availability of nursing staff is associated with the survival of critically ill patients.
Many hospitals turn to travel nurses when they face these critical shortages. As a result, the demand for travel nurses is at a 20-year high.
A recent study linked travel nurses to improved patient outcomes. “The main benefits [of travel nursing] for patients have to do with higher quality of care and better safety outcomes,” says Linda Aiken, PhD, RN, and Director of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research.
This means that, in addition to better job security than traditional nursing, travel nurses help protect patients and improve their outcomes, simply by being in the right place at the right time.
Want to learn more? Check out What is Travel Nursing?