Gloria Pickett — When we think of nursing, we typically envision a career for those who want to be caretakers and make a difference in people’s lives. It’s a noble profession that offers a solid income and a certain security. But with the nursing shortage in the United States expected to peak within the next decade and aging baby boomers requiring more and more medical care, some experienced nurses are turning to travel nursing, accepting temporary contracts with hospitals around the country in exchange for higher pay, free housing, and the chance to make nursing, of all things, an adventure.
Benefits of travel nursing
When you contact a recruiting agency, you can often tell them where you want to go and they will give you a list of open positions in that area. Contracts usually range from 4-26 weeks, so if you find you don’t fit into a particular area or hospital, you can move on. But if you find that you do, it’s not uncommon to take back-to-back positions in the same hospital or be offered a permanent job there.
While you’re on an assignment, your agency usually provides furnished housing with utilities included. If they don’t, you will be given a suitable housing stipend. They also cover travel expenses and health insurance.
Pay is typically higher than average, but it depends on where the assignment is located. If you want to work in Palm Springs or Hawaii, it might cost you in wages, since competition for those assignments is higher!
Some things to consider
Your agency provides many important services, but they also take a cut of your pay. When selecting an agency, the most important thing to remember is the more perks they provide when it comes to housing and expenses, the lower your wages may be — it’s a trade-off.
It’s possible to be a travel nurse without an agency. These nurses are called independent contractors, and while they get to pocket all of their pay, they also have to go without an agency’s relationship with the hospital and their access to positions. Independent contracting typically requires a lot of legwork and experience.
Your nursing license must be in good standing in your home state. Typically, this is all that’s required for travel nursing, although the more credentials and expertise you can provide, the easier it will be to get assignments.
Travel nursing is a relatively new concept, and its popularity is constantly growing. There is growing competition for agencies to place nurses, and an increasing need for professionals who are flexible and willing to try new experiences. Being a travel nurse can take you to cities you never thought you’d visit and meet patients from a wide array of regions and walks of life. It may not appeal to nurses with small children or anyone who has personal obligations that keep them busy at home, which leaves the field reserved for single and older independent workers. It definitely requires an adventurous spirit, but it draws upon the quality that leads many people to become nurses in the first place – simply, the desire to be there to help.
About the Author
Gloria Pickett writes for education blogs. Read her latest article here.