Are you considering taking the leap into travel nursing? Are you a current or prospective nursing student researching your future career options? No matter where you are in your nursing career, if travel nursing is a track you are seriously considering, you need to know the truth about it to help you make the right decision. This career move is unlike any other in the nursing field, and it comes with advantages and disadvantages. The following list outlines the pros and cons of travel nursing to help you determine if it is the right career choice for you.
Pros and Cons of Travel Nursing
Pro: Ability to Travel
On the list of the pros and cons of travel nursing, the ability to travel often is one of the biggest advantages. Travel nursing can take you all across the country. Some nurses may even determine where they want to work based on the places they want to visit. Although your primary reason for traveling is your job, during your down time you can explore and see all that your new location has to offer. This unique feature of travel nursing allows you to play and get paid. Those with wanderlust will especially enjoy this perk of the jobs. While you typically will not be eligible for PTO as a travel nurse, you will still have the opportunity to visit new places, allowing you to check items off your travel bucket list during your free time.
Con: Homesickness and Loneliness
Any form of work that involves constantly being on the go will likely involve homesickness and loneliness. There are a number of factors that may contribute to these feelings of longing for home and loneliness, including how far from home you plan to travel, how you spread out your assignments and what your living arrangements will be. Of course, none of these factors have to be deal breakers for those interested in the travel nursing profession. You can choose to look for assignments close to home, making it easier to return to your roots when necessary; space out your assignments more strategically, allowing you to come home to visit between positions; and look for roommates who are also traveling nurses or even local to the area you are visiting.
In addition to being able to travel regularly, travel nursing provides flexibility. Because assignments are temporary, you are not tied to one position or location long-term. You can go without a job for as long as you want between assignments. Some may opt to seek out their next role towards the end of their current position, so as to never be without work and always be traveling. However, depending on your specialty, you may handle things differently. For instance, travel nurses that specialize in ICU or emergency care may be more prone to burnout or depression due to the cases they deal with on a regular basis. Rather than jumping directly into their next assignment, these types of traveling nurses may prefer longer breaks between roles, allowing them to unwind and destress. Travel nursing will allow for this like no other nursing job.
Con: Finding Housing
When weighing the pros and cons of travel nursing, it is important to consider the stress that comes with finding your own housing. Most travel nurse agencies will provide you with a housing stipend. This means you are required to find your own lodging. This may consist of Airbnbs, hotels or even travel nurse specific housing, like Furnished Finder. While any of these options will solve your immediate lodging needs, they don’t account for housing between assignments, nor the lack of “homeyness.” To overcome this unique challenge to travel nursing, some have ventured into tiny and mobile living. Perhaps you’ve seen the host of TV shows about eccentric people living in vans, micro homes, RVs and even shipping containers. For some this lifestyle may be too unconventional, but for traveling nurses looking for housing that feels a bit more permanent despite being mobile, tiny and mobile living is a viable option. Unlike buying a traditional home, purchasing a tiny home may require taking out a personal loan, an RV loan or auto loan rather than a mortgage.
Pro: More Money
It’s no secret that another important advantage of travel nursing is the opportunity to make more money. Depending upon the contract, the travel nurse will receive a base hourly salary and a tax-free housing stipend to cover the cost of their typical living expenses. While the base hourly rate will be determined by specialty, shift and location, the tax-free housing stipend will be determined by the cost of living in a given area. No two compensation packages will be exactly alike. However, travel nurses can expect to earn more than their permanently-placed counterparts. Additionally, travel nurses acquire skills and experiences that cannot readily be gained from staying in one location/job. The more skills and experiences that a travel nurse has on their resume, the better positioned they are to command and/or negotiate a higher salary. In essence, travel nursing pays more now and later.
Con: Always Job Hunting
Unlike regular nurses, travel nurses are always on the lookout for a new job. Because assignments are temporary, the job search process is never complete. We all know what a typical job hunt involves; just imagine doing that several times a year, plus the additional paperwork required for travel nursing. Though it can be time consuming, the job search process does not have to deter you from your dream of becoming a travel nurse. That’s where Premier Medical Staffing Services, LLC can be of assistance. We can help you each step of the way on your travel nursing journey. While you will still have to apply for jobs frequently throughout the year, we can help reduce some of the stress associated with job hunting to help you enjoy each assignment to the fullest.
Pro: New Friends
Believe it or not, travel nursing has social benefits as well. If you are a social butterfly, this type of nursing may be just right for you. Each place you visit provides an opportunity to grow socially. In fact, there are even traveling nurse Facebook groups you can join, allowing you to learn more about the field while connecting with other traveling nurses far and wide. Plus, you will have the ability to not only make friends at work, but also outside of work if you engage in hobbies or join social clubs. While your stays will be temporary, the friendships you build will be everlasting. What’s even more exciting is that once you leave one location for another, you don’t have to say goodbye forever. The friends you make during each assignment will give you the chance to revisit your past stomping grounds.
Depending on which state you would like to work in, licensing can be challenging. Because nurse licensing tends to differ by state, the license you hold in your home state may not be sufficient for practicing in another state. That means you may need to acquire a license for each state you want to work in. Thankfully, the National Licensure Compact (NLC) exists. The NLC consists of 34 states that allow nurses to work within those participating states without acquiring additional licenses. If any of the states you want to practice in are members of the NLC, you are in luck. However, if your travel nursing dreams are leading you to any of the other 16 U.S. states, prepare to obtain a license for each location.
Travel nursing is rewarding. But before you pull the trigger, be sure to take this list of the pros and cons of travel nursing into consideration. Regardless of whether you decide travel nursing is the right fit for you or not, Premier Medical Staffing Services has contract nursing opportunities that are sure to meet your needs and career goals. Our staffing experts are only a phone call away: 1-800-439-7012.
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