I started travel nursing in November 2015 and it was the best decision I have ever made. I mean, come on, I get to explore different parts of the US while helping people. The two things that I love! When I started travel nursing, though, I had no idea what I was doing. The first company that I worked for wasn’t very transparent and I got kind of screwed over. However, I started working with Cross Country Trav Corps *(shout out to my awesome recruiter Terry Burde)* and have been having the time of my life since. Check out where I’ve been and what I thought about each assignment! Not to mention, Shawn travels with me since he works from home, so it’s a total win-win situation for us.
Have you been thinking about becoming a travel nurse? You probably have a lot of questions/reservations just like I did! Here’s a list of pros and cons about travel nursing:
- Obviously, you get to TRAVEL! You choose where you want to go– a small suburb in the Carolinas? Beach side in Florida? Bustling NYC? There are jobs everywhere!
- Higher pay than staff nursing. With all of the tax-free benefits and housing stipends, I make 40-50% more than I did as a staff nurse.
- Great learning opportunities. Within a year’s time, you could potentially have worked in 4-5 different hospitals. Some of them may be teaching hospitals, some may be magnet recognized, and some may function in an unorganized and chaotic manner. You will learn to adapt in each situation and gain valuable professional growth.
- Working as much or as little as you want. I’ve met some travelers who take 48 hour/week contracts for the entire year to make as much money as possible. I’ve also met travelers (and I myself am this type) who will take 1-2 contracts and then travel overseas for an extended period of time. You choose when you work.
- Avoiding work drama. As a traveler, you won’t get wrapped up in the politics and drama that often comes with being a healthcare worker and contributes to burnout. If you don’t like the way things are being run, you’re out of there in 13 weeks!
- Making friends with people all over the country. I’ve made friends at every hospital I’ve worked at, and am still in touch with those people through social media. Having connections all over the country is great for your resume.
OK, to be honest, I don’t really think there’s many cons to travel nursing, but I do know that there are concerns people have, so I’ll address those as well!
- Taxes. In my opinion, this is probably the only con of travel nursing. You have to be meticulous about your taxes, file in multiple states, and maintain a tax home to get all of the benefits. I’ve made a separate post all about this. Click here to learn all about this topic!
- Being bombarded by agencies. I wish someone had told me this when I started traveling: do your research and choose 2-3 agencies to inquire with! I started submitted applications with every agency I could find because I thought at first it’d be difficult for me to find a job. Boy was I wrong. Two years later and I still get 4-5 phone calls, voice mails and emails from different recruiters asking if I still want to work with them. See which agencies are highly ranked by using sites like Travel Nursing Central or Highway Hypodermics. Call a couple of agencies, see where they have jobs and what the pay packages are like and then choose a contract from there!
- Being overwhelmed at a new job. This is a legitimate fear and it’s usually the number one reason people talk themselves out of becoming a travel nurse. You only get 2-3 days at orientation, and there’s a chance you’re dealing with a new charting system. However, I’ve found that in general, other staff are VERY helpful, especially the first week or two. This may be way out of your comfort zone, but I promise that after completing your first assignment, you will feel incredibly accomplished!
- Licensing. I am a resident of Arkansas, which is a compact state, meaning that I can work in any other state that is part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (see image below.) Any state not in this compact will require a separate license. I got my NY and Washington license within 6 weeks, but my California license took almost 4 months. PLAN ACCORDINGLY IF YOU ARE GOING TO CALIFORNIA! Visit each state’s board of nursing website to learn about applying for a license there. Also note that your agency should pay for your license application fees! All you have to do is ask.
Overall, even with my initial reservations, I’m so glad that I took the plunge to become a travel nurse and I hope that I’ve given you some good information and reassurance that you can become one too!
Have any other questions/concerns? Leave a comment!