Recently there was a massive conference in Las Vegas dedicated to the field of travel nursing.
It’s called TravCon, and while I’ve been a travel nurse for several years now, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of healthcare providers, nurses, and regular folks who have never even heard of travel nursing.
So like any good writer, this became the topic.
Perhaps you’re a registered nurse, or maybe you’ve been thinking about a career move. Either way, if you’re here and reading this right about now, then it’s likely you’re a bit curious about what this travel nursing thing is.
So let’s jump in and get your questions answered!
So what exactly is a travel nurse?
Facilities, clinics, and especially hospitals will go through some significant ebb and flow with nurse staffing. These can result from a pandemic, staff walk-outs, sick leaves, maternity leave, and a variety of other reasons.
The bottom line is that patient care must go on 24/7/365, without interruption.
That’s when these hospitals reach out to travel nurse agencies and staffing companies to fill in the gaps. Also, as a result of urgent needs, the nurses who fill these gaps will be paid more.
These nurses…of which I am one…enjoy a few unique benefits of becoming a travel nurse.
Things like flexible work due to contracts generally being 13-weeks in duration. Also, the ability to travel to various cities, states, and hospitals is a huge benefit. Then there is the perk of being able to take time off in between contracts. Finally, and one of the big ones is the ability to learn new skills in new facilities and still grow your career as an RN.
So what then are the drawbacks or “showstoppers”?
For one, you must have at least one year of clinical experience, and in some instances, two years are required. It can be uncomfortable for some nurses to travel to new locales and hospitals several times a year, and even some nurses just plain do not want to travel! And finally, one of the biggest drawbacks is that a nurse may often be apart from family and friends for weeks, even months, at a time.
Now the question is, should you do it?
OK, I realize that you can’t just read a few paragraphs and expect to dive into travel nursing. So let’s break down a few of the things that are super compelling for nurses.
Income from being a travel nurse
Long story short, a travel nurse will almost always make more than a staff nurse will.
It really bites on some levels, but it’s more than a fair trade-off on other levels.
To be honest, I started travel nursing because I wanted to make more money. Period, end of sentence. It wasn’t about adventure, new friends, or incredible cities. It was money. And nowadays, a qualified nurse can make $2k up to $7-8k PER WEEK.
And no, that’s not a typo.
Travel nursing can be a very empowering and lucrative career move.
Let’s talk about the hours I’ll be working
This really doesn’t change much from traditional staff nursing.
While the contract length is generally 13-weeks long, the number of shifts power week is usually 3, 12-hour shifts weekly. One thing I strive to do is rally for block scheduling. That means that I might work 5-6 shifts in a row to have more free time off for side-hustles or visiting family.
Of course, 5-6 shifts in a row is by my request and not a normal thing.
Regardless, the flexibility in travel nursing is incredible. If I want to take time between contracts, no biggie. Block schedule to go home and see the family? No problem. The hours you’ll work are often well within your control.
How to be a travel nurse?
While there are many steps in choosing this path, we’ll just highlight the top “how” reasons.
Step 1: Choose a travel nurse company
There are literally dozens of travel nurse companies to choose from. They have different names, are in other cities, and have different recruiters, but the essence is the same. They all want to place nurses in a travel contract.
So select the one that will cater to you and treat you the way you should be treated.
First, decide if you want to seek a contract in a different city, or if you want to stay near your home. This will help determine the type of travel nurse company you’ll choose.
Some specialize in local contracts, and others may have a specialty in out-of-state travel.
Step 2: Align with a recruiter you vibe with and trust
This part may arguably be even more important than the agency you select.
The reason is that your recruiter may be your lifeline not only at the facility you’ll be working at but with your payroll, benefits, and any other items that emerge while you’re traveling.
Don’t overthink this part, and between us, I go with a gut feeling FIRST, then I’ll get to know a recruiter.
What’s your dream travel nurse assignment?
When you’ve decided on a travel nurse company and then found a good recruiter match, you’ll then get to the fun part.
Where, and what you’ll be doing.
Once you and the recruiter get some of the details and application process done, you’ll dig into where you want to go. Some things to consider are close to home or far? Beach or mountains? Big facility or small-town type?
The final word
I know that there is still lots to learn, but we hope we covered some of the basics.
You’ll likely have many more questions, and perhaps like me, you’ll still have questions even after you have done a few travel gigs. The truth is, that’s totally OK.
It’s better to ask as many questions as you can upfront, learn a little bit of the travel nurse landscape, and then take the plunge. And when you’re ready to do that, we’ve got you covered.
To learn more about the travel nursing opportunity and cities across the country, visit Bestica Healthcare and start planning your next assignment today.