Ask a Travel Nurse – 6 Common Questions Answered
Although travel nursing has been around for a while, the curiosities surrounding the profession are still very prevalent. There are many myths and questions about pay, treatment and lifestyle that usually require some explaining, both to staff and patients.
Here are some common questions I have encountered:
1. Does your travel agency pay for all of your living expenses?
Your travel agency will pay for your housing, furnish it, set up your utilities for you and pay the monthly bill. If you want cable or internet access you have to set that up and pay for it yourself.
Most companies do not pay for a television, washer and dryer or a vacuum but you do have the option of renting these items from the company that furnished the apartment. All you have to do is let your recruiter know what you would like to rent.
You also have the option of taking the housing stipend and finding your own place to stay. If this is the case then all of the living expenses are your responsibility.
2. Can you bring your pets with you on assignment?
There are many nurses that travel with their pets. You just have to let your recruiter know that you have a pet so they can find housing that is pet friendly.
There might be restrictions on what type of pet you can have and you may have to pay an additional security deposit.
3. What happens if you want to start a family?
If you do choose to travel with your family, your travel agency can set you up with housing big enough for everybody. Many of these families have one parent at home and choose to homeschool their children.
4. Do you get benefits?
Most travel agencies offer both health insurance and retirement with matching. The kicker is that you cannot take more than 30 days off to maintain your health insurance.
If you are one of those people who has the luxury of taking extended vacations, it may be wise to get your own health insurance.
Most companies do not offer Paid Time-Off (PTO) or short term disability. If you tend to play hard, I recommend getting some type of accident insurance so that you have some income coming in if you are not able to work; in the travel world, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid.
5. Do you get the worst assignments?
I personally don’t feel that I necessarily had the worst assignments. It depends on what kind of patients you prefer.
Many places tend to give you the easy patients and leave the sick ones for their staff, at least in the ICU anyway. Some ICU nurses would consider these less sick patients the worst patients since they are probably not sedated and ventilated.
You are usually the first to float so if floating is miserable to you then you might consider your assignment “the worst.”
It takes time for the charge nurses to get to know you and learn what you can handle. You will find that if you extend at a place long enough you will feel less like the red headed step child.
6. What is the most challenging part of travel nursing?
For me, the hardest part of travel nursing was the feeling of instability. It is exciting to see a new city every few months but packing up, moving and figuring out a new grocery store and gym was a bit exhausting.
You could relax for a little bit and then it was time to figure out and prepare for your next destination.
I also felt like at any moment my contract could end at any place at any given moment and I would once again be forced to repeat it all over again. If I had any suggestions, I would recommend that travel nurses extend in the places they felt most comfortable in. I think this can take away the feeling of instability, at least a little bit.
If you are thinking about traveling, asking questions to anyone you come into contact with who is traveling or has traveled in the past is definitely a must.
The more information, the better; just be careful that their horror stories don’t deter you from making the professional leap. Everyone experiences challenging situations in their life differently. Some people embrace change while others may feel defeated.
I encourage you to face your fears head on and experience the wonderful world of travel nursing for yourself.