Travel Nursing in Tennessee | Top Paying Specialties & Cities 2023
Travel Nursing in Tennessee
When you first think of travel nursing, your mind may wander to spending your time off on the beaches of Hawaii or Florida, seeing a Broadway show in New York, or visiting a national park in California. However, Tennessee should also be one of the top states on your list.
Tennessee truly has it all: beautiful mountain scenery during all four seasons, a vibrant live music scene, world-class food, historic sites, and several top healthcare facilities to work in. And whether you’re looking to care for patients in an urban environment or go more rural, Tennessee will let you choose, thanks to a variety of patient populations and environments.
Fortunately, if your interest is piqued, the demand for travel nurses in Tennessee is high with thousands of well-paying travel nurse jobs currently listed on job search sites. According to Indeed, the average travel nurse salary in Tennessee is currently $2,122 per week. And when you’re not working, Tennessee will allow you to explore the world around you and enjoy some downtime – something every nurse needs!
How Much Do Travel Nurses Make in Tennessee?
The average travel nurse salary in Tennessee is currently $49.43 per hour, or $2,122 per week, and $8,166 per month, according to Indeed. Like many areas, some cities in Tennessee will pay more than others.
Here are the Top Paying Cities in Tennessee:
- Murfreesboro at $2,390 per week
- Nashville at $2,231 per week
- Johnson City at $2,164 per week
- Clarksville at $2,147 per week
- Memphis at $2,136 per week
Highest-Paying Specialties in Tennessee
Here are the top-paying specialties in Tennessee, according to Indeed:
- Hospice and palliative care
- Labor and delivery
- Anesthesia, if you are a CRNA
Hospice and Palliative care
Hospice and palliative care are not often thought of as common travel nurse specialties. However, these travel nurses are paid an average of 28.46% more than the average base salary in Tennessee. There are currently 17 job openings for these specialties in Tennessee, and it is an area that will continue to be high in demand.
Labor and Delivery
Labor and delivery travel nurses are paid an average of 21.49% more than the average base salary in Tennessee. If you apply for a job in L&D, you’ll also want to be sure you have your NRP and Fetal Monitoring Certifications updated, as that will net you the highest-paid position as well as more opportunities. There are currently 83 job openings in L&D in Tennessee.
Telemetry travel nurses are paid an average of 15.56% more than the average base salary in Tennessee. There are currently 84 job openings.
Pediatric travel nurses are paid an average of 10.49% more than the average base salary in Tennessee. There are currently 62 job openings.
Operating room (OR)
OR travel nurses are paid an average of 8.37% more than the average base salary in Tennessee. There are currently 78 job openings.
Also in the running for top-paying specialties in Tennessee are Med-Surg nurses and ICU nurses, who are paid a higher than the average base salary in Tennessee. There are currently 134 and 182 job openings in these specialties, respectively.
Top 5 Hospitals in Tennessee
The leader in hospital rankings, U.S. News and World Report, most recently evaluated 129 hospitals in Tennessee. They ranked the top hospitals in Tennessee as:
1. Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) in Nashville, TN
VUMC is easily the most well-known hospital in Tennessee, with good reason. It is nationally ranked in 9 adult specialties and in 10 pediatric specialties. Some opportunities for travel nurses at VUMC include working in a level 1 trauma and burn center and caring for transplant patients.
In fact, VUMC does the most heart transplants of any transplant center in the world, according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR). Nursing at VUMC has also been awarded magnet designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which is a key indicator showing the quality of nursing care provided at VUMC.
2. Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, TN
If you have been curious about what it is like to work at a faith-based hospital, Ascension Saint Thomas could give you this opportunity. Ascension works to incorporate spiritual wellness into the care of patients and staff in addition to caring for physical health.
Ascension Saint Thomas is also known for its heart and kidney transplant programs. Ascension Saint Thomas is highly ranked for positive post-heart transplant outcomes, which explains why its heart transplant volume has been consistently growing. There are also opportunities to take care of patients using Advanced Ventricular Devices.
3. Baptist Memorial Hospital – Memphis, in Memphis, TN
Baptist Memorial Hospital is the second largest hospital in Tennessee after VUMC, with 706 beds. Its campus spans 80 acres and 22 different hospitals and all together, healthcare professionals there care for one of the highest patient volumes in the entire state.
Baptist is currently offering nurses a 16-week assignment with a rate of up to $70.00 per hour and a completion bonus of up to $3,000.
4. Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, TN
CHI Memorial’s commitment to excellent nursing care is evident in its support of nursing education with multiple scholarships available, support for nurses to receive national board certification, and shared governance councils focused on improving patient outcomes through improved patient care. The experience of a travel nurse is greatly impacted by interactions with other staff nurses. Any program that improves nursing at a hospital, in general, will also have a positive impact on you as a travel nurse.
5. Parkwest Medical Center in Knoxville, TN
The website for Parkwest Medical Center is treatedwell.com, which is a great motto for how this hospital system cares for both its patients and its staff. Most nurses are familiar with the DAISY award, which is an international program to recognize nurses. Parkwest actually developed the BEE award, to recognize other healthcare professionals vital to patient care, such as patient care assistants.
This award celebrates how nurses and other healthcare providers rely on each other to provide excellent patient care. When a healthcare organization takes the time to recognize employees involved in all aspects of patient care, you can be assured they will recognize your work as a travel nurse. As any travel nurse knows all too well, teamwork is everything in healthcare, so we love to see the full scope of team members recognized and it could be a good indicator of how you would be treated as a travel nurse at this facility.
Cost of Living for Travel Nurses in Tennessee
Using 100 as an average cost of living index in the United States, the Tennessee cost of living is 89.9, according to BestPlaces.net, which also offers a cost of living comparison calculator between cities.
This means that the average cost of living in Tennessee is less than the average of other areas in the United States. Specifically, the cost of housing is especially low with an index of 79.4. The cost of food is relatively higher than housing but still falls below average with an index of 94.5. The cost of transportation is also low with an index of 90.2.
While the travel nurse salaries offered in other states such as California may seem appealing, it is very important to take the cost of living into consideration. You’ll make more if you can save on living expenses, especially if your travel nursing contract allows you to choose your own housing with a stipend because you can pocket any remainder you may have.
Pros & Cons of Travel Nursing in Tennessee
Of course, taking on a travel nursing position in any state will come with some pros and cons, so here are some considerations to make when looking at becoming a travel nurse in Tennessee.
5 Pros of Travel Nursing in Tennessee
1. Tennessee is a compact nursing license state
This means that if a nurse holds a nursing license in another compact state, they do not need a specific Tennessee license to work as a travel nurse in Tennessee. This makes it easier to try travel nursing in Tennessee without extra steps on your part if you already have a nursing license in a compact state.
2. Tennessee has a low cost of living
The low cost of living in Tennessee means that your travel nurse money will go further. Many nurses travel with future goals in mind such as financial independence and early retirement. You will be able to save more if you earn more through traveling in a low-cost-of-living state.
3. Tennessee = no state income tax
Tennessee is one of only nine states with no state income tax. Therefore, any money you make in Tennessee will not be subjected to Tennessee income tax. This will help you keep more of your paycheck for your future goals. (Remember, you may still have to pay taxes on any of your earnings through your home state, however.)
4. The state is centrally located
Tennessee has a central location, which makes it easy to travel to other areas to visit home, other family and friends, or even take trips when you have consecutive days off.
5. You’ll have plenty of great weather
Tennessee has relatively mild weather, including mild winters for all you snow-averse nurses. However, this state still gives you the ability to experience all four seasons, which can be a fun change for nurses who haven’t lived that before.
5 Cons of Travel Nursing in Tennessee
Of course, no area is perfect, so here are some potential drawbacks to consider before signing your next travel contract.
1. Tennessee is landlocked
While Tennessee has many outdoor spaces to explore, it is ultimately a landlocked state, and you will need to vacation somewhere else to enjoy a traditional beach vacation. However, Tennessee is also home to many beautiful lakes where you can still enjoy the water.
2. Tennessee is not ranked high for healthcare
According to U.S. News and World Report, Tennessee ranks #40 in the country for best states for healthcare. However, in spite of that ranking, as a travel nurse in Tennessee, you can be part of improving the quality of care for patients in this state by providing high-quality nursing care.
3. The state does rock some pretty humid summers
Despite having relatively mild weather overall, Tennessee is also known for its humidity, especially in the summer. If you plan on working in the summer, it might also be a great time to visit the mountains to enjoy the higher altitude.
4. Tennessee = tornadoes
Tennessee is also in an area of the United States at higher risk for tornadoes. It will be important for travel nurses unfamiliar with tornadoes to know what to do in the event of a tornado. The locals can also give you some of the rundown on what to do if the sirens go off.
5. You might not be able to eat chicken anywhere else ever again
Tennessee is home to a specific type of chicken dish, commonly called Hot Chicken or Nashville Hot Chicken. Once you and your visitors taste this specific variety of fried chicken, odds are, you’ll never be the same.
Things To Do on Your Days Off In Tennessee
There is no shortage of activities to do on your days off throughout the state of Tennessee. Here are just a few things you can look forward to during your time in Tennessee.
Of course, no visit to Tennessee would be complete without spending some time in the state’s capital, Nashville. Known as “Music City,” Nashville is home to historic country music venues such as the Grand Ole Opry House. Interestingly, some street signs in Nashville play country music when you are waiting to cross the street.
Don’t forget to stop in at Broadway, an area in downtown Nashville known for live country music. This would be a uniquely Nashville place to take friends or family while they are visiting or to explore on your own or with new friends made while traveling.
Some other popular venues to explore are Robert’s Western World and Little Red Corvette. A few restaurants serving great hot chicken: Dinos, Prince’s Hot Chicken, and Hattie B’s.
Make your way to Memphis
Nashville is not the only great city that Tennessee has to offer. Memphis is where you’ll find Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. The National Civil Rights Museum is also in Memphis at the former Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Sun Studio, known as the “Birthplace of Rock & Roll,” is where legendary musicians such as Elvis and Johnny Cash were first discovered.
Drop in at Dollywood
Just south of Knoxville, you will find Pigeon Forge which is home to Dollywood. This amusement park is owned by Dolly Parton herself, and has been voted the #1 amusement park in the United States by TripAdvisor. Pigeon Forge is also home to the Titanic Museum, which contains artifacts from the actual Titanic.
Go hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains
No stay in Tennessee would be complete without stopping by the most visited national park, Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Located between North Carolina and Tennessee, the two main locations in Tennessee for accessing the park are Gatlinburg and Townsend.
The Smoky Mountains can be enjoyed during all four seasons, too. For instance, you can hike part of the Appalachian Trail in the Smoky Mountains and enjoy the beautiful wildflowers through the spring and summer. Likewise, the changing leaves in the fall are magnificent, and hiking in winter is even possible, as long as you are prepared and check the conditions.
Whether you are just starting to think about travel nursing or are a seasoned traveler, Tennessee has so much to offer travel nurses, both in the hospital and out of it. Given the modest size of the state, it is possible to see many different cities and sights on weekend trips.
The state boasts beautiful nature, diverse cities and experiences, endless opportunities for travel nurses, and a low cost of living, so you can gain both professionally and personally by becoming a Tennessee travel nurse.