If you are a nurse who enjoys the challenge of working in new environments, meeting new people and gaining experience in different areas of nursing, you may be suited for Travel Nursing.
Travel Nurses are, generally, assigned to positions in a location for a period of 13 weeks. Often, they are asked to stay on longer and have the option to extend their contracts with the healthcare facility. Travel Nurses enjoy top pay, free housing and gain valuable experience that can result in career advancement or permanent positions. As a Travel Nurse, you can work in home health care, hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics or medical offices in any of the dozens of nursing specialties.
As a Travel Nurse, you indicate to your employer your location preferences and specific skills or interests, in addition to salary and schedule requirements. You’ll then be told of the Travel Nurse positions that meet your criteria, and your employer will supply you with information regarding the healthcare facilities, housing arrangements and particulars of each job, enabling you to choose the one that suits you best.
The most satisfied Travel Nurses are those who fully understand and accept the terms of their contracts. With each position you are offered, you will have a contract that states your duties and rewards. A Travel Nursing contract will describe the nature of the Travel Nurse’s professional responsibility, list offenses that may result in premature termination and detail the standards to be followed; e.g. JCAHO. Your contract will state the length of the assignment, how many hours you will be working, your pay rate and the method and schedule of payment, information about overtime and any bonuses that may be earned. Travel Nursing contracts will explain employee benefits such as liability and health insurance and any allowances, as well as information about provided housing, payment of utility bills during the assignment and any other costs that may be reimbursed. There will be a section that indicates what, specifically, is expected of you and states policies and procedures of the healthcare facility where you will be working. Read your contract carefully, read it again, and address any concerns or questions immediately before signing. You will walk in prepared to excel on your first day with a clear understanding of what the next three months will entail.
An important thing to consider when thinking about Travel Nursing is transportation. Most Travel Nurses use their own cars to travel from one assignment to the next and for their daily commutes to work, so it’s important to have a reliable vehicle. Some Travel Nurses’ employers fly them to their destinations and provide a rental car; some do not. Make sure you know before you sign the contract. Also determine what the parking situation at your housing and work location will be ahead of time. If you’re assigned to a big city, you may have the option to use public transportation.
Travel Nursing is a very non-traditional lifestyle and you must accept or even thrive in atypical circumstances. If you’re married and your spouse cannot join you on your assignment, you need to be prepared to withstand that type of separation. If you’re hesitant about spending time alone or having to re-build your social life every few months, you might want to consider more long-term or permanent nursing jobs rather than Travel Nursing. Lots of resources exist, like message boards and chat boards, where Travel Nurses can talk to and support each other, and some hospitals will have programs to acclimate their Travel Nurses to the local area. Travel Nursing is a big change from a “regular” nursing job, but if you don’t mind a semi-nomadic existence, like the idea of taking time off in between assignments when you want a break and are happiest when trying new things, the potential financial, personal and professional rewards of Travel Nursing can’t be beat.