5 Travel Nursing Myths Debunked!
In nursing school I toyed with the idea of travel nursing. I loved the idea of getting paid to travel and see new places, however I caught wind of a few rumors in my two years of permanent staff nursing that turned me off to the idea. I didn’t want to be a traveler if I was always going to float or if I was always going to get the assignments no one wanted.
It was actually my husband that suggested we try travel nursing as a means of finding a way to find where to settle down. Now here we are, four years later still traveling the country and loving it. Let me fill you in on some insider info – all those rumors? NOT TRUE.
Myth #1: Travelers Always Float
This is the biggest issue I had when initially considering traveling. As a staff nurse I loathed floating with all my being. I am happy to report that travelers don’t really float any more often than they would as a staff nurse.
Do they float first? Typically. Do they float every shift? No. In what situation would a traveler float? The same situation in which a staff nurse would float – when the census is low and another unit needs help.
I’ve had assignments where I never floated a single shift in three months and others (mainly in the summer) where I float once or twice a month. After travel nursing for four years I actually don’t mind floating anymore, not because I float all the time (because I don’t) but because traveling has made me more flexible and more inclined to have new experiences.
Myth #2: Travelers Get “Bad” Patient Assignments
This rumor is just as bad as the first. I’ve never left an assignment where I felt taken advantage of or “dumped on”. At the beginning of an assignment you may feel like you’re getting the “easy” patients or a “bad” assignment but remember two things:
First, that they’re testing you out. They don’t know you. The only thing the unit knows is what you put on your skills checklist and what you said in your 30 minute phone interview. Once they get to know you they’ll start trusting you and using you to your skill level.
Second, you’re there to help out. Travelers exist because hospitals are short staffed. If you weren’t there then some other staff nurse would have that assignment or worse, that assignment plus one…or more. I’ve never worked in a unit or heard from another traveler that they were directly targeted to take a “bad assignment.”
Myth #3: “I Don’t Want to Lose My Skills”
This rumor ties in with #2. You won’t always get easy patients and your skills don’t go away, they’re like knowing how to ride a bike. My skill set is Pediatric ICU. I had two years experience in a PICU within a level 1 trauma center. I had a lot of really critical patients yet I didn’t run my first code until I was a traveler. I had tons of support and I learned so much from that experience.
If anything I gained more skills. Had I just stayed in my home hospital as a staff nurse I would have never had the opportunity to learn how to take care of organ transplant patients, cardiac patients, or learned what it’s like to work in the ER. I have gained so much experience and perspective.
If anything, traveling has given me the opportunity to learn so much more, not cause me to lose skills. And to go back to my initial thought, even if you do an assignment where your patients are less acute than you’re used to, once you get back to a busier unit your skills are still there – like riding a bike.
Myth #4: Travelers Always Have to Work Nights
This is false. Hi, my name is Courtni and I am a day shift traveler. I am on assignment 14 and I’ve only taken three that had potential night shifts.
One was an actual night shift assignment, that’s a whole story in itself but just know that they let me switch to days ASAP. The other two were “rotating” assignments where I swiftly let the manager know that “although I was there to help out in whichever ways they needed, I would really prefer to work day shift when possible”. And voila, out of a six month assignment I only worked two weeks of nights.
I’m not going to lie, it’s easier to find night shift positions. If the shift is more important to you (it is to me) then you have to be more flexible with location but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to miss out on that city you want to go to or hospital you want to work in. You just might not get there exactly when you want to get there.
Myth #5: Travelers Only Work In Small Units/Hospitals
As a travel nurse you have so many opportunities to work in some of the most prestigious hospitals in the country. You can work pretty much wherever you want to work.
If you want to get to a specific city you might have to be more flexible about which hospital you work in. However, if you want to get to a specific hospital that shouldn’t be much of an issue. I’ve worked in some of the best children’s hospitals in the country and I wasn’t even trying to get one specifically.
Hospitals need help, all of them. Unless you want to, you won’t get stuck in a tiny county hospital (not saying those can’t be great), in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. Travel nursing opens so many doors to so many great opportunities.
Travel Nursing Is What You Make It
Ultimately, your travel experience is what you make it. You can choose your own path. What city you live in, what shift you work, what unit, and what hospital. There’s no way anyone can promise you that every travel nursing assignment is going to be amazing and everything is going to go your way. Is travel nursing, seeing the country, and having new experiences worth it? Absolutely. 100%.