You’ve graduated from nursing school and are ready to make a career out of helping people, channeling your education and passion into a better life for your patients. However, your training doesn’t stop when you’ve received your diploma: you have to learn the ins and outs of the profession, seek continuing education, and identify ways to advance your knowledge so that you can command higher pay.
One element of your career that you must consider is exactly what kinds of positions you’re going to take based on both your personal interests and your lifestyle. You have many choices for specialization, but beyond picking a subfield, you’ll also need to think about how you’re going to work. An increasingly popular option is becoming a travel nurse, who accepts short-term assignments in order to help fill staffing shortages in particular areas. After the COVID-19 pandemic, when many nurses and doctors left the profession due to burnout, travel nurses have become an even more critical element of the healthcare system, netting great benefits for those who choose this worthwhile calling. Today, we’ll explore the benefits of choosing to become a travel RN.
It’s well-recognized in the nursing profession that travel nurses make more; in fact, on average, travel RNs make twice as much as their peers who accept long-term positions. As they are filling in for immediate needs, such as at a hospital with a staffing shortage, hospitals are willing to pay more to entice good workers to fill these positions. This is one of the biggest reasons that nurses will choose to accept these short-term assignments, as they can pay off their student loans faster and build up a healthy savings account to meet all of life’s other essentials.
Most travel nurses will work with a travel nurse staffing company, which will match them to recruiters in particular areas. With these companies, you gain access to benefits that may not be available for those who work at a hospital full-time, such as immediate health insurance and weekly pay; additionally, you will have a team who can help you find new positions if a particular assignment doesn’t work out and you’re unsatisfied with your temporary coworkers.
When you choose to become a travel nurse, you also get to become the arbiter of your own schedule, as you will be able to better negotiate a schedule that works for you. Travel nurses with children can choose to accept assignments closer to home, picking hours where they can be there for every soccer game and ballet recital, while those who want a more freewheeling lifestyle can decide to pick up and move all the way across the country in order to see more of the world and gain experience with different demographics.
There is a dark side to the medical profession, particularly around toxic interpersonal environments: bullying doctors, nitpicking nurses, and combative patients. Depression and anxiety are high among healthcare professionals, which is part of the reason that so many decided to leave once the COVID-19 pandemic hit and they were struggling with an enormous surge of very ill patients.
When you have short-term assignments, you can quickly find a new position should you encounter a hostile work environment, working with your recruiter to place you elsewhere. These recruiters are often very familiar with certain hospital systems and will be able to steer you away from those that are known to be unpleasant.
New experiences through travel are one of life’s greatest pleasures. When you work as a travel nurse, you can choose to accept assignments far away from your hometown, putting you in contact with an entirely different demographic. You can see the majesty of the Pacific Northwest, the arid beauty of the Southwest, the chilly splendor of the East Coast, or the down-home hospitality of the Midwest, depending on what assignments you choose.
More than that, you’ll get to work with a cross-section of America, learning about the different needs of specific populations while also being mentored by professionals whose opinions may differ from your own. In this way, you’ll become not just a more experienced nurse but a more well-rounded person who is comfortable meeting people from all walks of life.
There’s much to love about being a travel nurse, from better pay to novel opportunities that wouldn’t be possible if you accepted a permanent position in one hospital system. For those who love to try out everything life has to offer, being a travel RN is the perfect way to blend your professional training with your own curiosity. Work with a great staffing company that has the best interest of its nurses in mind, and you’ll develop a rich, varied career that always keeps you hungry for more knowledge.
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