For anyone who aspires to become a nurse, or is already working as an RN, you already know that there are numerous reasons why the career is fulfilling. What you might not be aware of is that you can take your career in caring on the road as a travel nurse to enjoy even more benefits.
Travel nursing is one of many exciting career paths that people with nursing skills and credentials can embark upon. As the name suggests, travel nurses are not tied down to one hospital or healthcare facility.
Instead, they get to travel the country to fill high-demand positions, and bring their expertise to areas and institutions that need it.
The nature of the job is not for everyone. However, for anyone who enjoys trying new things, traveling, and doesn’t like being tied down to one location, travel nursing is something to consider.
Take a look at some of the unique benefits that travel nurses have.
If you’re anxious to visit and explore other parts of the country but can never seem to find the time or room in your budget, why not get paid to do it? Travel nurses work as contractors, taking on short-term assignments through agencies that typically last between 8 – 20 weeks at a time. In other words, there is the potential to live in a different place every couple of months.
You can pick and choose your assignments based on the climate, or their proximity to activities that you enjoy doing during your off time, whether it’s hiking or enjoying the beach. And you aren’t even using your vacation time to do it!
Travel nurses are compensated a bit differently than staff RNs. For starters, many travel nursing agencies cover the cost of transportation, room and board, meals, and other daily expenses by offering stipends that are not taxed. That amount, added to the taxable income portion of their paychecks, provides most travel nurses with yearly income that’s on par with salaried staff nurses.
The more strategic you are, the higher your earning power can be. For example, taking an assignment in a smaller town that has a lower cost of living than a big city can help amplify your paycheck. In addition, if you have highly specialized credentials, you can land the more competitive (and higher paying) travel nursing assignments.
What’s also great is that some travel nursing opportunities include bonuses, such as a sign-on bonus, completion bonuses, or extension bonuses if you stay on longer than the original contract.
One of the challenging things about being an RN is the tough shift schedule and oftentimes, the politics and drama that can come with working for a large hospital. Over time, such work can be taxing, especially for nurses who stay with the same employer for a long period of time. Travel nursing provides the chance for a change of scenery, and to experience the excitement that comes with contributing to a new workplace.
But best of all, you have the flexibility to choose where you’d like to work, and for how long. Without a long-term commitment, there’s always the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel if what your doing isn’t something you wish to continue.
Being able to choose when, where, and how long you will work, and still make a decent living, is a rare opportunity. If you’re good at what you do, and are strategic about planning your assignments, you can schedule in time off as needed.
That being said, the more flexible your lifestyle is, the more you can get out of travel nursing. It might not be ideal for people who are starting families, for example. But if you’re able to pick up and go when a great assignment comes your way, travel nursing allows you to do that.
Exposure to new people and different medical facilities mean travel nurses also benefit from lots of learning opportunities. You’ll get to work with different patient populations in diverse areas, and in turn, learn about treating a variety of health conditions and illnesses.
You might also get the chance to work with new technologies or observe cutting-edge medical procedures that you might not have in your hometown.
Travel nursing also allows you to experience a variety of nursing roles versus settling into one. Maybe it will help you realize that you enjoy working with older people, or that you enjoy a smaller, specialized institutional setting versus a large hospital.
If you have the opportunity to work as a travel nurse at some point in your career, it’s definitely worth trying. Not only will you earn a healthy salary and expand your career horizons, but you’ll get to feel like you’re on an extended road trip.
Dawn Papandrea is a Staten Island, NY-based freelance writer who specializes in personal finance, parenting, and lifestyle topics. Her work has appeared in Family Circle, WomansDay.com, Parents, CreditCards.com, and more. Visit Dawn at her website.