What you need to be a travel nurse: passion for your profession, a willingness to go anywhere you’re needed, and a spirit of adventure. Many nurses choose this nomadic path for the promise of adventure and the opportunity to experience new places across the country. Travel nurses may be the last of the great globetrotting explorers.
But it’s not all fun and games. While travel nursing is a great career concept, brimming with opportunity, it takes hard work, diligence, and dedication to make it happen. Plus, you need to enjoy travel, because you’ll be doing quite a lot of it!
Cross country travel nursing isn’t for everyone, but for those nurses who want to turn the roving life into a vocation, they might find this work the most fulfilling of all.
The Advantages of Travel Nursing
In addition to amazing pay packages, free rent, and sight-seeing in new and exciting places, here are some unique advantages of becoming a travel nurse.
Flexibility. You choose where and when you want to work. Standard nursing can be grueling, and many nurses choose travel nursing for the freedom it offers. The average travel nursing assignment lasts around 13 weeks, and nurses can negotiate for specific days off within that time frame. Between assignments, you are free to go where the wind takes you.
An ongoing education. You’ll never experience stagnation as a travelling pro. Working in different facilities across the country will serve to expand your skill set, and add extensively to your professional experience. Having a broad range of skills within nursing makes you a highly desirable candidate for new assignments.
Competitive pay. Depending on where you go for your next assignment, the pay scale will be different. Nurses who work in New York City are bound to make more than those in rural Arkansas. However, because travel nurses are often requested on an urgent basis, hospitals will sometimes offer a much higher pay grade than you would find working a standard shift. For more tips on getting the most bread in your basket, check out our other article: Seven ways travel nurses can maximize their pay.
Vacation while you work. Some locations, considered “destination” locations such as Hawaii, might not pay as well because they’re under such high demand. However if you’re not there to rake in the big bucks, you can still earn a little cash while working in a beautiful vacation spot — it’s a vacay that pays for itself. Pandemic permitting, check out Texas’ famous South by Southwest music festival between shifts. Or work on your tan on the sunbaked beaches of Southern California on your weekends.
Reimbursements. Many agencies offer stipends to help cover travel and housing expenses for nurses and other allied pros. No matter where you decide to travel, your flights, gas, and train tickets are pretty much free! Agencies will either cover your travel expenses up front, or reimburse you when the assignment is done. Medely covers 100% of travel expenses and pays out the maximum tax-free amount for our stipends.
Considerations: Is Travel Nursing Right for Me?
All of this sounds amazing, right? And it is amazing. But before you go rushing to sign up with your nearest travel nursing agency (ahem, us) take a deep breath. Check your pulse. And ask yourself: is travel nursing right for me? Now that you know the perks of being a travel nurse, here are some practical considerations to take into account.
Family. There are many travel nurses who choose to take their family on the road with them. Usually these are specific circumstances: one spouse, a couple pets, and some houseplants. The possibilities of bringing your kids on the road may be expanding, however. With many schools across the U.S. offering a virtual option during the pandemic, all your school-aged children need to hit the road with you is a laptop and reliable internet access.
Licensing. Cross country travel nursing sounds like a dream until you get into the paperwork. Luckily, over 30 states in the lower 48 participate in Compact Licensure. This means that they all share the same credential standards. If you’re licensed in one, you’re licensed in all the others! Unfortunately, some of the states left off of this list include some of the most desirable, e.g. Hawaii and California. But if you have the time, patience, and funds, you can always apply for individual licensure in these non-compact states.
Rent. It can feel a bit strange to leave your home for upto three months at a time. You could fully commit to the nomadic lifestyle and flit like a leaf on the wind from assignment to assignment. But If you do want to keep a home base, free or stipend-covered housing makes it possible to pay rent while not in-state. It also makes paying taxes and receiving mail a lot easier.
Making the transition. You might not know whether travel nursing is right for you until you try it. And if you don’t like it, it may be in your best interest to have a more stable employment situation lined up at home. Most hospitals and clinics allow you to request a leave of absence, giving you a safeguard if you decide travel nursing isn’t for you.
Final Thoughts: Cross Country Travel Nursing
The world and its patients await! Is cross country travel nursing right for you? Only you can weigh the benefits of a flexible schedule against the costs of travel and licensing paperwork. What will you choose?
If you’re the kind of nurse that needs to have all the information before making a decision, Medely’s got you covered. To learn more about travel nursing, read: How does Travel Nursing Work? And Compact License States, to learn whether you already have an interstate nursing license.