Analyzing the Advantages and Disadvantages of Travel Nursing

Who doesn’t love the idea of traveling? While it’s an excellent way to escape normality for a short period of time, it sadly isn’t interlinked with too many roles in the healthcare industry. Well, that’s where travel nursing stands out from the norm. 

This specialist area of nursing sees qualified individuals traveling across the United States – and even into other countries – to fill vacancies for hospitals and clinics that have nursing shortages. As each position is only temporary, travel nurses have the opportunity to continually travel around while maintaining their dream job. For many, it is the best of both worlds. 

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What is travel nursing?

Before moving on to the advantages and disadvantages of travel nursing, this section will take a brief look at what education is required and what the role entails: 

  • Typically, a travel nurse will be a registered nurse who previously attained at least 12 months of experience working on-site in a hospital. 
  • As many positions that require the assistance of a travel nurse are in a specialized field, it is advantageous to possess further certification credentials. While even nurses with minimal qualifications will find work when traveling, those with training in various specialty areas will have many more opportunities to choose from. 
  • An assignment will often last 13 weeks, or a quarter of a year, in total. 
  • Once the 13 weeks is up, travel nurses have a decision to make. They may have the opportunity to extend their current contract. They can take on a new position at a different hospital. Or they may want to have a break between assignments by taking some time off.
  • Usually, travel nurses will work 40-hour weeks. This will typically comprise either three 12-hour shifts, four 10-hour shifts, or five 8-hour shifts. Understandably, these numbers differ depending on the facility.  

The advantages of travel nursing

Now that the role of a travel nurse is out of the way, it’s time to place the magnifying glass over the role’s advantages and disadvantages. First off, the positives of travel nursing:  

  • It’s an adventure

If you’re an extrovert who doesn’t like to be confined by the usual 9-to-5 grind, travel nursing is a fantastic escape. As you move around on a somewhat regular basis, you have a prime opportunity to explore new areas, meet new people, and never become bogged down by the monotony of the same workspace day after day. 

Want to sample a big city? Perhaps go to a state which is famed for its hiking trail? Or maybe you have an eye on going abroad to delve into a different culture? With travel nursing, the opportunity to land a temporary job in a dream location is entirely possible. 

  • An unprecedented level of control

In conjunction with the previous point, the level of control travel nursing affords you means it is perfect for those who seek personal independence. You have the freedom to pick where and when you work. The job itself could last half a year or just a few days, and you have the opportunity to go on a vacation in between every placement. 

Many travel nurses utilize a recruitment agency for work. By doing this, you can browse the agency’s job boards, pick and choose your schedule, and decide on the work which best fits your needs. 

  • You can still learn as you travel

It goes without saying that travel nursing broadens the mind in terms of life experience. Working in varying facilities across the country – from large medical centers to tiny rural hospitals – will also open you up to many different work experiences. This experience also ensures you’re a more attractive prospect to employers. 

While constantly traveling might seem to put the brakes on career trajectory, there’s always the chance to learn on the road. For example, you can enroll on an online Masters of Nursing course and continue with further education without needing to be based in one place. Additionally, if you need to fully focus on a certain assignment of your course, you can always take a break from your travel nursing to give it 100%. 

  • Financial perks 

As with any nursing role, you will receive an attractive financial package for being a travel nurse. The rate of pay can vary depending on a number of factors, but it’s entirely possible for travel nurses to rake in over $100,000 annually.

For even more incentive, agencies will sometimes cover housing costs, pay for most expenses, and even offer various tax-exempt perks.  

The disadvantages of travel nursing

You can’t have too much of a good thing. It’s true: despite the tasty advantages mentioned above, there are still a few negatives that come along for the ride with travel nursing: 

  • Travel logistics issues 

Traveling on a regular basis is not easy. You have to consider the reality of regularly arranging travel plans, which can include sorting out flights, packing your bags, and other moving expenses

  • Multiple licenses required

As you need to possess active licensure in every state you work in, it can be a pain to arrange licenses for each placement. Thankfully, a majority of US states can all be covered in one go by obtaining a Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC). Some agencies will also take care of this aspect for you – including the cost incurred by applying for a license. 

  • The feeling of loneliness

Even for the most adventurous of travel nurses, the feeling of homesick will kick in at some point. After all, you’re leaving a lot behind – your home, family, friends, pets, local bars, and restaurants, etc. Plus, the likes of FaceTime or Skype might not be enough to fill the void. 

Conclusion 

Travel nursing is not for everyone. Natural introverts might struggle to open up and make long-lasting relationships if they haven’t got time to settle in a new place. Those who don’t enjoy the aspect of traveling will, of course, also be averse to opting for this specialist nursing role. 

For others, however, the freedom and potential experiences associated with travel nursing outweigh any negatives. Explore the possibility of becoming a travel nurse now, and you could soon start discovering new environments, meet new people, and gain a greater understanding of yourself. 

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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