10 Benefits to Working as a Travel Nurse
By Melissa Wirkus, contributor
Great pay, endless opportunities and limitless adventure are just a few of the reasons why nurses choose to travel. Whether you want to explore the four corners of the U.S. or find the ideal place to settle down, travel nursing provides excellent opportunities for adventure, career enhancement and personal fulfillment. Read on to discover the top 10 benefits of working as a travel nurse.
1.Discover new places
From the natural beauty of the Alaskan frontier to the thrills of New York City, there are no limits to where travel nursing can take you. Assignments are available throughout all 50 states, from quaint towns in the Midwest to every major metropolis. “I love being able to see the country and taking advantage of what each city has to offer,” said Mandi Smith, RN, who has been traveling with staffing company NursesRx. Traveling provides nurses with the opportunity to live in any place they desire, something few professions can offer.
2. Freedom and flexibility
Travel nursing provides nurses with the unbeatable freedom and flexibility to choose when and where they want to work. Nurses are able to take time off between assignments to spend time with family and friends, or take an extended vacation. Annie Kennedy, RN, took a trip to Guatemala to volunteer at an orphanage and clinic serving underprivileged youth. Her flexible schedule allowed her to take time off between assignments to pursue her interests and help others.
3. Professional growth
Working at different facilities, from top research and teaching facilities to rural hospitals, enables you to broaden your skill set and learn new techniques. "Travel nursing is a great way for nurses to expand their professional résumés while they enjoy exciting new experiences around the country," said Linda Gardner, former recruiter for NursesRx. Not only does travel nursing showcase your adaptability, but it also proves you’re always up for a challenge and ready to learn from each new facility you visit.
4. Job security
The nursing shortage has RNs all across the nation in a very enviable position where their skills are in high demand. Healthcare facilities are in need of qualified nurses to fill permanent staff shortages and meet seasonal needs. “It’s the one job where you know you will never be out of work,” said Kathryn Madigan, RN, who travels with staffing company American Mobile Healthcare. Nurses who travel enjoy the job security of knowing there will always be another assignment waiting once their current assignment ends.
5. New friends
Getting to know new people, from your new colleagues at the facility to friends you make outside of work, traveling allows nurses from all walks of life to intertwine with new people and cultures. Travel nursing puts you in touch with people that you would otherwise never meet, from new neighbors to friends who share similar hobbies and interests. Establishing strong friendships as you get to know the city is one of the most rewarding parts of traveling, and something you can take with you for years to come.
6. Make more money
Travel nurses earn generous hourly pay rates and most companies offer shift differentials, overtime and some facilities offer completion bonuses. “Traveling nurses are compensated with excellent packages including competitive hourly wages, free furnished housing and health insurance starting on day one of their assignment," Gardner said. Some companies even offer referral bonuses to the RNs who refer their friends—just another example of how lucrative travel nursing can be.
7. No workplace politics
Travel nurses don’t become embroiled in politics or management issues. They go in, do their job and focus on patient care. “You can avoid hospital politics as a traveling nurse. All of your paperwork is done through us and you are not involved in the bureaucracy of the internal staff,” Gardner explained. “Through NursesRx, you have the benefit of our 24 hour clinical liaison support; experienced RNs who can address any clinical or workplace concerns you might encounter for the duration of your assignment." If a practice environment isn’t an ideal fit, a new assignment is just a few weeks away.
8. Find the ideal place to settle down
If you’re thinking of making a permanent move to a new location, working as a travel nurse is a great way to “test the waters” before committing to the move. Find out what it’s like to live in the charming countryside of New England and then switch gears to live the life of a beach enthusiast in San Diego. Comparing different cities and parts of the country by way of your assignment choices is an ideal way to find out where you want to establish a permanent residence before making a commitment.
9. Avoid burnout
Pursuing a career as a travel nurse is also a way to avoid the “burnout” that many permanent nurses experience. Whether you’re tired of hospital politics or feel as if your career is at a standstill, travel nursing can be just the revival you need. Experiencing new faces and places, while continuing to do what you love most—caring for people, is a priceless opportunity that few other professions offer.
10. Develop new interests/hobbies
Exploring new destinations can lead to new experiences, such as skiing if you’re near the mountains and surfing if you’re near the beach. “Traveling has allowed me to develop new interests,” Smith said. “I like to explore a new city either on my bike or by going hiking.” The options are endless when traveling and a new location almost certainly brings about a love for a new hobby or fun activity that you never expected.
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