Find Your Rewards as a Travel Nurse
Consider varied locations, résumé-building and travel nurse pay options
By Melissa Wirkus Hagstrom, contributor
Choosing to work as a travel nurse can be one of the more satisfying and lucrative career decisions that a registered nurse can make. In addition to experience working in various locations and settings, and résumé-building positions, many assignments offer day-one benefits, daily allowances for meals and incidentals, free continuing education and company-paid housing. Like any career, being flexible and looking at your options can help further the experience.
Consider these ideas to maximize on your travel nursing opportunities:
1. Location, location, location
Recruiters recommend keeping an open mind when selecting a location for a travel assignment. While you may want a specific location, if it’s not immediately available to you, work with your recruiter to build a plan to help you get to that ideal location with successive assignments. While travel nurse pay may at first seem like the ideal motivator, and may be higher in some states, consider the other factors such as exploring new locations, making new friends and expanding on skillsets by working at facilities outside of your local area.
Once you apply, your dedicated recruiter can give you information on which locations fit your career goals, experience and salary requirements. Keep in mind that even in the better-paying locations, your travel nurse salary will vary depending on specialty, type of facility, shift and other variables. But selecting a state that is known for a higher-than-average nurse salary is a great place to start.
“Choosing a city that is lower on the national average in terms of cost of living is also a good way to go,” explained Natalie Conyers, recruitment manager for Medical Express, an AMN Healthcare company. “Nurses can lower their living [costs] anywhere by either taking our housing and letting us pay for it, or taking the stipend and staying with friends or family or finding a short-term rental on their own.”
2. Varied assignment lengths
If 13-week assignments are the norm for you, consider taking a quick-start, critical staffing assignment. These unique contracts usually span from 4–8 weeks and may involve major projects such as new unit openings, electronic medical record (EMR) conversions or other special projects. Because of their unique nature and at times rapid response required, these assignments often pay more per hour than traditional assignments. NurseChoice, an AMN Healthcare company, offers these project-based RN travel nursing assignments that start sooner and finish faster, helping you get RN jobs with great travel nurse pay in desirable locations.
3. High-demand specialties and expertise
Certifications and training can help make nurses more marketable, but according to Conyers, they normally don’t have much of an impact on pay. Instead, the specialty you decide to pursue as an RN is likely to have the biggest impact on travel nurse pay rates and your earning potential throughout your career. Higher-demand specialties, such as ICU, L&D, CVICU, NICU, PICU, Cath Lab and others may offer higher salaries and location options for nurses.
4. Overtime pay and bonuses
Working long shifts usually comes with the territory in nursing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be compensated for it. With Medical Express and other AMN Healthcare companies, the more you work, the more you get paid, thanks to their new overtime (OT) bonus programs. The formula is simple: “Any hours worked, in increments of 10, above the written contract hours qualifies for an additional $100 bonus the following month. There is no cap on that,” Conyers said.
“I have had travelers pick up one extra shift a week and get the OT pay and then the following month receive a $500 bonus in addition. I don’t know any other company that does this. The OT of course has to be approved, but it seems to be a big hit since it was rolled out last December.”
Don’t forget the total package
When thinking about a travel nurse career, consider your goals and the total package offered to you as an RN on the road. Talk to your recruiter about your needs, and weigh all aspects--such as the opportunity to explore the country, live close to family and advance your career--along with your travel nurse pay and benefits.
Looking for new job opportunities with great travel nurse rewards? Don’t delay--request a call from our partner travel nursing agencies and get on the road to your next adventure.
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