Is Travel Nursing Good for Your Career?

Is Travel Nursing Good for Your Career?

By Deb Wood, RN, Contributor

Do you have a yen to see the country but have some reservations as to whether travel nursing will benefit your career? We interviewed Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, CSP, the Inspiration Nurse and author of Falling Together-How to Find Balance, Joy, and Meaningful Change When your Life Seems to be Falling Apart on why travel nursing matters, how it builds better nurses and to speak to the career impact. 

“It is a great opportunity to meet new people and experience health care from many different perspectives,” said Cardillo. While she acknowledges travel nursing is not for everybody, many nurses will enjoy the opportunity to practice in different hospitals and develop the confidence to step into any facility. 

“Every health care facility has a different way of doing things. They have different systems, different management styles, different computer systems. You can learn a lot by going from place to place.”


Travel Nursing Builds Resilient, Flexible Nurses

Travel nurses must remain flexible and able to “fit into” different environments. While doing so, they can discover new ways of doing things that they adds to their knowledge base.

“You have to be flexible,” Cardillo said. “It’s great for someone who is open minded and has an adventurous spirit and is open to learning.”

Rolling with the highs and lows of a situation and adapting well to new environments are traits of successful travel nurses. “You never know where you will land and what it will be like,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to learn.”

One of the things travel nurses learn is “to be very resilient,” Cardillo added. 

Health care has become a rapidly changing industry in a fast-paced world. “Everything is constantly changing, not just technology, but there is new information and new ways of doing things,” she said. “In health care and nursing, things are constantly changing – systems, processes.”

Cardillo explained that even when change is perceived as something good, humans do not like it and try to avoid it. 

“Through travel nursing, you will develop a high degree of change stamina, the ability to cope or manage change without getting stressed out,” Cardillo said. “Change stamina and resilience are two of the most important traits people can possess, for work and for life.”

A nurse who can roll with the punches and not get flustered by adapting successfully to change and bouncing back from negative experiences will enjoy more career opportunities and experience more success. 

“Change does not stress them out, they are able to switch gears more easily and go with the flow,” Cardillo said. “That is important today.”

Finding the right place to live and practice

Travel nurses often want to try living in a variety of locations, getting to know different parts of the country. Some though prefer to accept travel-nursing assignments closer to home, in a certain region. 

“It gives some people tremendous lifestyle flexibility,” she said. 

Travel nurses may travel with a spouse, who can work from home or is retired. Sometimes, both people are nurses and can look for assignments together. Some nurses like the nomadic lifestyle and do not want to settle into one place or position, while others view travel nursing as an opportunity to check out possible places to live or work. 

“You are there usually for a good three months, and you get a good birds-eye view of how that place is run, what the staff is like, what the management is like,” Cardillo said. “It’s a unique opportunity to try a place out, try it on for size.”

Even if the travel nurse does not particularly like the facility, he or she knows it is for a limited time and can still learn from “less than ideal work situations and management teams,” Cardillo said.  

Travel nursing can expand a nurse’s skills and ability to adapt to change. With nurses in short supply, travel nurses fill a void and improve the quality of care at their temporary facility. The rewards are plentiful for those willing to give travel nursing a try.

“There is something for everyone in nursing,” Cardillo said. 


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