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travel nurse, is this job really as good as people make it seem?

people say this job is amazing and you make a lot of money but no one ever mentions the downside.

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Colleen’s Answer

I have many friends that LOVED travel nursing. I have never done it but I was the charge nurse over many travel nurses and I have to be honest with you. Travel nurses often get the hardest assignments to give the regular nurses "a break" and there is some underlying resentment knowing the travel nurses make more than the regular floor nurses. It takes a strong personality, confidence, and excellent nursing skills to survive travel nursing.
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Ann’s Answer

Hi Niah,
I did travel nursing for a little over a year. It was fun to see new places and meet new people. My husband and I traveled with our two dogs to my assignments. We stayed at the campgrounds because it was cheaper that way. I did make very good money. The downside was I missed my family terribly. Missing Christmas, Thanksgiving, and birthdays with them was the worst. My grandsons also play sports, and I did not like missing their games. I do love nursing. I have always felt like I can't believe I can get paid to do something I love so much!!.
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Maria’s Answer

Hi Niah

Travel nursing is an adventurous way to see the world (yes theres travel for nurses outside the US) and care for people from all walks of life. I have done travel nursing and had some very amazing experiences! I learned new things met new people and got to see and live in many different places. The downside to traveling is you miss your family. You miss sleeping in your own bed and you’re away from familiarity. The beauty of traveling as a nurse is each assignment is temporary from 8-13 weeks and if you don’t like somewhere you don’t have to go back!

Hope this helps! Good Luck!

Maria
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Blanche’s Answer

Hi Niah - I don't know anything about being a travel nurse so I Googled Pros and Cons and there is an interesting list you might want to check out. My daughter-in-law is thinking of this but she has children so it's not a good fit for her. If you are comfortable with traveling all of the time and not having any permanent consistency in your location, colleagues then this might be good for you. My advice is always if you want to try something do it, you won't know if you like it until you try it. You are free to make your choices BUT you also have to live with the consequences :) good luck to you in whatever you decide to do.
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Kathleen’s Answer

travel nurse, is this job really as good as people make it seem?

Hi Niah,

Happy Friday! @Maria encapsulated the travel nursing profession well, great opportunities, but can be tough for those who get homesick.

Although it has been some years since I did travel nursing, one of the greatest challenges I faced during my traveling days was understanding the organizational structure as an outsider and having little time to adapt to workflows, environment, work culture, and aspects of healthcare management/technology. In order to prepare, it helps to understand what limitations nurses may have per institutional/State Board of Nursing regulations. For example, in some organizations, I was able to bolus or administer a PRN dose of propofol as an RN, others required physicians or advance practice providers. It is helpful to do some baseline research with such stipulations, and prepare your time as a traveler. Having an open mindset with adaptability and asking questions also helps. Best to be prepared with the idea of hitting the ground running, with certain contracts, as orientation time is short and limited compared to work as core staff.

Hope this helps :)
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Sue’s Answer

Hi there. Travel nursing does have its ups and downs. You do have to be ready for the challenge of working in a new area with its management and organizational policies and you have to feel mostly confident about your skills as a nurse to do the job. You always need to be sensitive to the community you are entering, both the regional area and the team that you will be engaging with.
But! The rewards of helping those in areas that are commonly understaffed, seeing a new area of the world, typically short assignments ( weeks to months) and the significant salary, it is a great option for many.
Good luck in your endeavors.
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Annie’s Answer

I was a travel nurse for two years and had both good and bad experiences. Being the "new kid" every three months can be hard, every hospital does it a little differently and usually, once you're on assignment, you have very little control over your schedule unless you request vacation time before you sign your contract. The permanent staff nurses were sometimes nice and sometimes not so nice, it just depended on the floor culture. That being said, I don't regret it at all, it allowed me to live in Hawaii for 8 months, I got to see all different parts of the United States and take large amounts of time off in-between assignments to travel. My travel assignment also turned into my permanent job once I decided I was done traveling. If you only want to go to ideal locations, you won't make as much money, but if you're willing to go to less desired or remote locations, you can make way more than the average bedside nurse. The best part is the travel nursing community is so awesome, I made great friends and got to meet people from all walks of life who were so friendly. Highly recommend!
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Dr. Colette Forde’s Answer

Hi Niah,

Every job you can think of has pros and cons. I cannot overestimate the importance of working as a registered nurse and having at least two years of clinical experience in the speciality you are going to work in before you accept a travel assignment. You should have experience precepting and being a charge nurse on that unit before traveling. While this may not be a requirement when signing up as a travel nurse, once you hit the hospital you are going to work in, the expectation is that you will be able to pick up any type of assignment in that speciality, usually with one day of clinical orientation. The company you work for will test you using standardized testing and have you participate in a self-assessment of your knowledge and skills. Many hospitals will offer you an exam to test your EMR skills (electronic medical record) as they are not going to fund your training in how to document in their systems. The hospital is hiring travel nurses because they are short of nurses, your patient load will not be light and you will definitely be tired at the end of your shift.

You need to remember that taking care of patients means you have a duty of care to each one of your patients and you must practice within the Scope of Practice as outlined by the Board of Nursing in that state. The law changes for state to state and it is your responsibility to know both the scope of practice and the limitations within that state. You will continue to learn and grow as you travel and as your abilities grow, this will enable you to accept more challenging assignments. I frequently hear from new hires (not new graduates) that the patients they are expected to care for in academic medical centers would be in a step-down unit or in an ICU in the hospital they have previously worked in. Nurses practicing in these hospitals are trained how to take care of extremely complex patients at the unit level. Travel nurses who work as "strike breakers" are very experienced as they know they are going into an environment where all the nurses are new and the resources they can call on are very limited. The hospital is depending on them to take care of their patients safely, and without sacrificing the standard of care delivered to these patients and their families.
One of the other areas you should focus on is benefits. If you sign up and pay for healthcare benefits, you will receive them, as long as you are working. If you have to take a break for a few weeks because there is no assignment available that fits you needs, how are you going to ensure continued coverage ? Does the company have the option for you to continue to pay to receive benefits, and if so, is the premium higher when you are not working ? The same question applies to any type of benefit, including retirement plans, that you might sign up for.
Many travel nurses make friends along the way and end up traveling with other travel nurses. This means you have friends to go out to dinner with, go to a movie, etc., and this can make the experience so much more enjoyable as you plan fun activities and trips on your days off with others. You can travel aboard as a travel nurse and use this opportunity to see the world. It is important to realize that the nursing profession is different across the globe and what you are permitted to do as a registered nurse may differ considerably from your home country.

Nursing is a fantastic profession that offers so many roles and opportunities and as we integrate more and more technology into the healthcare environment, these opportunities will continue to grow. As long as you love the work, you will find a tremendous sense of fulfillment as you continue to help patients and families, irregardless of your job title or the setting you practice in. Be kind and caring as you alone can make a difference in another's life. Good luck in your chosen career, I hope you will find happiness and fulfillment in your work as you care for others.

Dr. Colette Forde recommends the following next steps:

Research the steps you need to take to become a registered nurse.
What are the additional types of training and/or experience you need to get to prepare you to be a travel nurse? Most hospitals will require you to have a Bachelors degree in Nursing if you want to travel.
Do you want to consider doing overtime on another unit or joining an agency so that you can work in another hospital a few days a month ?
Evaluate how you performed and how stressful was the experience working as an agency nurse ? This will guide you in deciding if you need more experience before becoming a travelor ?
Research travel agencies, their requirements, do they offer any training ? Pay attention to malpractice insurance and benefits (if you need them) ?
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Cody’s Answer

Hey Niah!

Ive been a RN since 2017 and have often thought about traveling at various points in my career. The up sides of better pay, getting to travel both domestic and foreign and the chance to network and meet new people or experience new healthcare systems is amazing. However I always talked myself out of it because I enjoy developing and growing the bonds I have with co-workers. Often times travel nurses are needed in places that aren't very desirable or undergoing a lot of change hence the staff has left. This can also result in very little strength on the unit. Also from my understanding the orientation period is very short and minimal. As a critical care/ emergency nurse this often means also that you are not put in the critical assignments and are left with the less "glamorous" assignments. This is just my two cents. Hope it offers some perspective!
Thank you comment icon Thank you for giving me advice. vrusti
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