6 Tips for Going Back to School While Travel Nursing
The flexibility of the job makes it possible to go back to school while travel nursing.
Travel nursing is the perfect accompaniment to furthering your education. That’s because it offers many benefits including high pay, a flexible schedule, and perks like tuition assistance.
Some nurses might be afraid that going back to school isn’t possible while working, but that’s just not true. Here are some tips for how to navigate going back to school while travel nursing.
1. Talk to travel nurses who have gone back to school
If you can, seek out other travel nurses who have gone back to school while still maintaining their travel nurse assignments.
Ask them how they made it work: did they choose to take on reduced schedules during school or take a break? Is online school or in-person a better choice?
Hearing from real-life RNs who have walked before you will be invaluable as you make your own educational decisions.
2. Ask if your agency offers tuition assistance
There are many benefits to speaking with your nurse recruiter or your agency contact before you make the decision to enroll.
First of all, talking to your recruiter can help you check on any education policies your agency offers. Many travel nursing agencies offer some kind of tuition assistance plan to help you pay for your education, either partially or in full.
The only catch? You’ll want to be sure you know exactly what is required to meet eligibility requirements so you can take full advantage of any assistance they do offer. For instance, some agencies may have a minimum work requirement you need to meet before you are eligible, while others may approve tuition assistance only at select educational facilities. The bottom line? Know their policy inside and out before you make any decisions, so you know exactly what kind of help is available to you first. And although it should go without saying, once you find out what the policies are, be sure to follow them to a “t” so you take full advantage of every dollar.
3. Talk to your nurse recruiter about your educational aspirations
Don’t be afraid to communicate openly and honestly with your nurse recruiter about what you hope to gain from your education. You don’t have to fear that your agency will somehow penalize you for having different availability; on the contrary, your agency may openly embrace you pursuing an advanced education, especially if it’s an in-demand area.
If you’re not sure how your travel nursing career and your education can co-exist at the same time, be sure to speak with your recruiter. They can help you by offering you travel assignments that work with your schedule while you go back to school. If you’re only available on weekends or need shorter shifts so you have time to study, tell them! You have nothing to fear by gaining more education.
4. Talk with your “home base” hospital
If you have a home base hospital where you hope to work primarily either through travel nursing or if you make the decision to take a staff position, you can also talk directly with the healthcare facility to see what kind of educational assistance they offer. For instance, if you get introduced to a hospital while on a travel assignment that you absolutely love and want to explore working there someday, it may be worth your time to talk with their HR program to see what kind of tuition assistance they offer in exchange for a work commitment.
5. Don’t rule out in-person school
Although many nurses choose to go back to school via an online route for convenience’s sake, if you’re a travel nurse, you can take your pick of where you’d like to attend school because you could get an assignment in that area and attend school at the same time.
While online school can be convenient and done from anywhere, it’s often also more expensive than attending in-person. So, choosing a school that offers an in-person or even a hybrid option may be more affordable. Plus, if you’re the type of person who learns better in-person, you shouldn’t rule out attending a physical campus. As far as prices go, you may have to check with the school on their rules for what constitutes “in-state” pricing if you’re only in the area temporarily for a travel nursing assignment.
6. Overlap expenses whenever possible
There are many expenses that you can incur while going back to school, such as housing, tuition, meals, books, and even increased data for all that researching and writing.
Whenever possible, check with your agency on what kind of stipends are available in your potential assignment package so you can overlap expenses. For instance, if you will need to move to attend school, securing a short-term assignment in the same location may help you get your moving expenses covered.
Or, if your agency offers a continuing ed stipend, see if you can use it towards books or registration fees.
The Bottom Line
Although going back to school as a travel nurse is definitely not something to undertake without planning and consideration, there are many benefits to combining a career as a travel nurse with furthering your education. If you have the dream of advancing your education, you can get started today — and working as a travel nurse might just help you reach your dreams even faster.