By Melissa Wirkus, staff writer
Endless adventures, new opportunities and great pay are just a few of the reasons why many RNs turn to travel nursing once they have at least 12-18 months of experience under their belts. Whether you want to explore the four corners of the United States or find the ideal place to settle down, working as a travel nurse provides excellent opportunities for adventure, career enhancement and personal fulfillment. Read on to discover 10 of the top benefits of a travel nursing career.
1. Discover new places
From the natural beauty of the Alaskan frontier to the thrills of New York City, there are no limits to where travel nursing can take you. Assignments are available in all 50 states, from quaint towns in the Midwest to every major metropolis. “I love being able to see the country and taking advantage of what each city has to offer,” said Mandi Smith, RN, a travel nurse with staffing company NursesRx. Traveling provides nurses with the opportunity to live in any place they desire, something few professions can offer.
2. Enjoy freedom and flexibility
Travel nursing provides nurses with the unbeatable freedom and flexibility to choose when and where they want to work. Nurses are able to take time off between assignments to spend time with family and friends, or take an extended vacation. Annie Kennedy, RN, working with travel staffing company Medical Express, also took a trip to Guatemala to volunteer at an orphanage and clinic serving underprivileged youth. Her flexible schedule allowed her to take time off between assignments to pursue her interests and help others.
3. Enhance professional growth
Working at different facilities, from top research and teaching facilities to rural hospitals, enables you to broaden your skill set and learn new techniques. Travel nursing is a great way for nurses to expand their professional résumés while they enjoy exciting new experiences around the country. A travel career demonstrates your adaptability to future employers; it also proves you’re always up for a challenge and ready to learn from each new facility you visit.
4. Gain job security
Nurses across the nation are in a very enviable position where their skills are in high demand. Health care facilities are in need of qualified nurses to fill staff shortages and meet seasonal needs, assist with electronic medical record (EMR) conversion projects, and more. Nurses who travel enjoy the job security of knowing their recruiter is there constantly working on their behalf to help arrange another assignment once their current assignment ends.
5. Make new friends
Getting to know new people, from your new colleagues at the facility to friends you make outside of work, is another perk of the travel nurse lifestyle; traveling allows nurses from all walks of life to intertwine with new people and cultures. Travel nursing puts you in touch with people that you would otherwise never meet, from new neighbors to friends who share similar hobbies and interests. Establishing strong friendships as you get to know the city is one of the most rewarding parts of traveling, and something you can take with you for years to come.
6. Earn great pay and benefits
Travel nurses earn generous hourly pay rates and many companies offer shift differentials, overtime, guaranteed hours and more. Traveling nurses are compensated with excellent packages including competitive hourly wages, free furnished housing and health insurance starting on day one of their assignment. Some companies even offer referral bonuses to the RNs who refer their friends.
7. Avoid workplace politics
Travel nurses don’t become embroiled in politics or management issues. They go in, do their job and focus on patient care; all of their paperwork is done through the staffing agency. Many travel staffing companies also offer travelers access to a clinical liaison who is available around the clock; these experienced RNs can help answer any clinical or workplace concerns a traveler might encounter during their assignment. And if you find that a practice environment isn’t an ideal fit, a new assignment is just a few weeks away.
8. Find the ideal place to settle down
If you’re thinking of making a permanent move to a new location, working as a travel nurse is a great way to “test the waters” before committing to the move. Find out what it’s like to live in the charming countryside of New England and then switch gears to live the life of a beach enthusiast in San Diego. Comparing different cities and parts of the country by way of your assignment choices is an ideal way to find out where you want to establish a permanent residence before making a commitment.
9. Prevent nursing burnout
Pursuing a career as a travel nurse is also a way to avoid the “burnout” that many permanent nurses experience. Whether you’re tired of hospital politics or feel as if your career is at a standstill, travel nursing can be just the revival you need. Experiencing new faces and places, while continuing to do what you love most—caring for people, is a priceless opportunity that few other professions offer.
10. Develop new interests/hobbies
Exploring new destinations can lead to new experiences, such as skiing if you’re near the mountains and surfing if you’re near the beach. “Traveling has allowed me to develop new interests,” Smith said. “I like to explore a new city either on my bike or by going hiking.” The options are endless when traveling and a new location almost certainly brings about a love for a new hobby or fun activity that you never expected.
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