Staying Local with Travel Nurse Jobs in Your Own Backyard
By Megan M. Krischke, Contributor
Did you know that travel nursing does not necessarily require traveling? Although it may sound like an oxymoron, RNs can sometimes find short-term local travel nurse jobs in their hometowns or in locations nearby, which make it easy to return home on their days off.
“Ten, or even five years ago, it was common that facilities would not accept travel nurses who lived within 50 miles,” explained Stephanie Gilliland, recruitment manager for American Mobile Healthcare. “But the market has changed. Different facilities have different rules and many are willing to bend their rules to meet their staffing needs.”
After Amanda Mahon, RN, BSN, and her husband moved from Reno, Nev., to Santa Cruz, Calif., Mahon originally had to keep her non-travel position in Reno, a six-hour drive from her new home.
“I couldn’t find a position in Santa Cruz in my specialty, which is neurology and neurosurgery,” said Mahon. “Taking a position as a travel nurse in or near my current location not only allows me the flexibility to learn about the different hospitals in the area and their philosophies, it has also allowed me to work in some of the larger hospitals in the Bay Area. At this point, any assignment that is closer than a six-hour drive is a move in the right direction.”
“Certainly being able to take the housing stipend in cash rather than housing is a benefit. I can be near my family and have some exciting jobs that I might not have been able to track down on my own,” concluded Mahon.
Rather than pursue a permanent position in their area, nurses may prefer signing on as a traveler for a number of reasons. Travel nurses usually work three shifts a week and have the option to work overtime, but it’s not mandatory. They are outside of workplace politics, and travel nurse positions often offer a higher compensation package. Travelers receive a living subsidy and a per diem for meals and if they are on assignment over 50 miles from their home, these two sources of extra income may not be considered taxable income.
“Nurses are sometimes hesitant to leave a staff position for a traveling one because they don’t want to lose their status at their current facility,” stated Gilliland. “Taking an assignment close to home can allow a nurse to stay on as a casual employee, working one or two shifts a month, at his or her current facility. This arrangement can serve as a step toward the transition from being a staff RN to a full-time traveler.”
There is also a common misconception among some nurses that travelers don’t receive benefits. At American Mobile, for instance, travel nurses receive medical, dental, vision, prescription and life insurance, as well as a 401K, and that’s in addition to free housing and daily per diems.
Ndidi Okugo, RN, who works as a medical-surgical nurse, was having trouble finding a permanent position in her hometown of Inglewood, Calif., so she turned to travel nursing.
“I want to be close to my family, but couldn’t find a long-term position,” remarked Okugo. “I know my city and how to get around here--that is a key benefit of taking a local assignment.”
Travel nurse jobs offer nurses an excellent opportunity to experience different ways of thinking, to learn new skills, such as how to work in a new computer system and to discover facilities where they would like to work long-term.
“Typically a nurse needs to complete one or two short-term assignments before a placement can become a permanent one,” said Gilliland. “But that opportunity does exist. If you want to stay close to home, be sure to let your recruiter know that you’d be interested if something came up locally.”
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