The travel nurse lifestyle is an exciting and fulfilling career option that lets you see more of the world while doing what you love. Embracing new places and cultures broadens your perspective, fosters empathy, and encourages a greater appreciation for diversity.
In addition to exploring new locations, traveling nurses build robust professional networks. This exposure opens new opportunities for collaborations, mentorships, and knowledge sharing.
Travel nurses fill gaps in healthcare systems due to staffing shortages, extended absences, seasonal population surges, and temporary needs like public health emergencies. Hospitals can hire permanent nurses to address the problem, but bringing in travelers who are needed for only a short period is often more cost-effective.
The flexibility of this nursing career allows travel nurses to experience new medical practices and cultures, expand their skills, and explore diverse locations across the country. This type of employment may not be suitable for those with school-aged children and people who need to stay close to home, but it is an excellent way for nurses to find the right mix of work and life that best suits their needs.
Many travel nurses love that they can choose which contract assignments they take and decide where they want to work, so long as the hospitals have openings. They can negotiate shifts and days off with the best travel nurse agency. Nurses who choose this career path should ensure they can be flexible with their schedule, as it is common to work a 13-week assignment and then move on to the following location.
This flexibility can lead to job-hopping, and it could be difficult for some nurses to establish relationships in the community. It’s also important to note that, as a travel nurse, you will be paying taxes in every state you work in, which can get complicated.
While some nurses find contentment working in the same town and hospital year after year, others crave adventure. Travel nursing is a way to fulfill that desire while making a difference in patients’ lives.
Travel nurses can work in various healthcare settings, from top research hospitals to rural community clinics, while showcasing their skills and experience on their resumes. These different environments expand nurses’ horizons by exposing them to new patient populations, systems, and procedures. In addition, working in other places highlights the need for solid communication skills, critical thinking and problem-solving capabilities, and efficient time management.
Working with people from different cultural backgrounds and learning the language of a new area adds to a travel nurse’s professional growth. Learning a local language often helps patients understand their healthcare providers and feel more comfortable throughout their treatment.
The connections made by travel nurses are often lifelong and significantly impact their careers. These relationships can be instrumental in future job opportunities and provide support during challenging times in a career. Additionally, a robust network can lead to personal growth as well.
A significant benefit of travel nursing is connecting with new people at every assignment. This is a great way to meet like-minded individuals and make lifelong friends. It is also a fantastic way to expand your professional network. Many travel nurses build relationships with permanent staff nurses and managers, who can open doors for them in the future.
Hospitals can hire travel nurses to fill temporary positions they would need help loading otherwise. It is not uncommon for small-town hospitals to have difficulty finding qualified nurses, especially for specialty positions. Travel nurses are a valuable resource for small-town hospitals, often bringing specialized knowledge they may have acquired at more significant urban institutions.
Because of the demand for travel nurses, they are often offered higher pay than permanent staff. This creates what TIME magazine calls a “vicious cycle” because the hospitals cannot afford to raise staff nurses’ pay enough to compete with travel nurse salaries. Consequently, more permanent staff nurses leave their hospitals to accept travel nursing contracts elsewhere.
For those pursuing the career path of travel nursing, it is essential to ask yourself why you want to do this work. The allure of glittering city lights, white-water rafting in the Rockies, or kicking back on the beaches of Miami draws you to this rewarding and lucrative occupation.
In addition to honed clinical skills, travel nurses gain self-discipline through their work and the ability to be flexible in a fast-paced industry. As a result, they’re often in demand for permanent positions.
Travel nursing can also help you expand your professional network and build robust career connections. Working at different facilities, from top research hospitals to rural community centers, gives you experiences that will bolster your resume. Plus, you can meet medical professionals from various specialties and backgrounds—insightful conversations that will benefit your future career.
For most travel nurses, each new assignment is a fresh start in a new city. Often, they take advantage of their free time to explore the local attractions and get involved in the community. Others find that they settle into a routine with calls to family, exercise, and hobbies. Many choose to live in temporary housing provided by their agency, which can save money on living expenses and allow for a quick turnaround between assignments.
If you want to become a travel nurse, speak with an Enrollment Counselor at WGU today. You can start your journey sooner than you think! We offer year-round enrollment and can help you begin your tr.