Travel nurses are a kind of clinical professional that fill positions across the country, often for only a few months before they move on to their next destination. These nurses function like staffed nurses in their day-to-day operations; the distinction lies in their employment agreements.
Travel nurses work on contract and live elsewhere than their primary residence when they are on assignment, which allows for an untaxed addition to their compensation in the form of a travel stipend. This can positively affect the total compensation for a registered nurse in the event that the stipend does not entirely go to housing costs.
Benefits of Travel Nursing
There are many benefits to travel nursing, and amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry saw a major boom of this occupation. This was in part due to the increased flexibility of travel nurses; these clinicians could fill in at the hospitals and clinics that could not reach suitable headcounts from local nurses alone.
Exploring New Places
One benefit of travel nursing is the opportunity to go to different places around the U.S. Many travel roles place nurses in areas that boast exciting activities to engage in and a rich history to discover.
Exploration that would typically be reserved for vacation or holiday is made more accessible to nurses whom accept travel contracts. These travel nurses can use their free time to check out tourist attractions, engage in local culture, and learn about the city they’ve been placed in. Traveling nursing means that you can still expand your horizons and enjoy what different cities have to offer while still having stable and lucrative employment.
Once a traveling nurse finishes a contract, they will have had lots of time to enjoy the location and can move on to the next to repeat the process! The healthcare staffing agency that the nurse uses to find their first travel role should be able to place them in another contract, using their expansive network of healthcare organizations and hospitals.
In a similar vein, becoming a traveling nurse may be a good idea if a clinician wants to shake up their environment. While some travel nurses prefer typical vacation destinations such as Miami or Hawaii, others simply enjoy the change of pace that comes with travel contracts.
Jobs can sometimes be monotonous and leave professionals wishing to break their routines. When clinicians struggle with this challenge, they can turn to travel nursing to help. With a typical contract of 13 weeks and the shuffling of clinicians to various hospitals and organizations, travel nurses find themselves in a fresh environment very often.
One of the strengths of a healthcare staffing firm is their varied clientele. This means that travel nurses have different options for freshening their environment. For example, a nurse may want new scenery but is not willing to move all the way across the country. In this case, they can explore the different positions available with a staffing agency and find a new location that is still relatively close to home.
Gaining Varied Experience
While traveling nurses gain experience outside of work, they also stand to gain quite a bit on the job. While medicine is certainly one of the more standardized industries, there can still be operational differences from organization to organization or even between various locations of one organization.
Coworkers and patients can greatly differ from one place to the next, and getting exposure to these new experiences can make for a more well-rounded healthcare professional. As a result, traveling nurses can bring extremely valuable insight to organizations that they work for after their traveling contract ends. Or, they can simply keep amassing experience by doing many travel contracts back to back.
There may also be different protocols or tools used to carry out nursing, which a traveling nurse can gain proficiency in during their assignment with that organization and location. This means that roles that a traveling nurse takes after their contract may have a much more manageable learning curve, since the probability they have used the required techniques is typically higher.
Challenges of Travel Nursing
While there are many benefits to travel nursing, there are also challenges to the role that are not typically an issue for local, staffed nurses.
The process of finding and preparing for a travel nursing role can be complicated. Proper licensing is a requirement for any registered nurse, and they are often issued at the state level – meaning that a nurse must be licensed in the location that they intend to travel to in order to fulfill the role’s duties.
Licenses cost time, effort, and money to attain, so they can be very real hurdles to nurses looking to take on travel roles. However, there is a measure to make this process easier. The Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) is a program between member states that allows for a multi-state license, commonly referred to as a compact license. The majority of U.S. states are a part of the NLC, so obtaining this license opens the door for a wide variety of travel nurse options. Unfortunately, some states do not fall under the compact license, and these locations may be difficult to secure traveling positions in.
On top of eligibility, there are also challenges with the move itself. Travel nurses must secure housing, either through a staffing agency that they used to find the position or on their own with the help of a travel stipend (also typically issued by a staffing agency). While this may not always be difficult, it certainly adds a layer of complexity not present in local jobs.
These requirements can be head-spinning, but they don’t always have to be. A reliable and experienced staffing agency makes all the difference when placing traveling nurses. At blueStone, you will be guided through the entire process and informed of your various options by our knowledgeable and experienced team.
While moving to a new place can be fun and exciting, some locations may be isolating. A travel nurse may not know anyone in the area they are assigned to, and this can be a difficult transition for someone who is used to a strong support system back home.
Making new friends is certainly possible and likely probable (depending on specific locations), but paired with adjustments to a new job, it may also be stressful. However, some clinicians enjoy this isolation or feel excited about a “fresh start”, so it’s more of a warning to those who might struggle with starting over.
Not the lone wolf type but still interested in travel nursing? Not every travel role will be across the country. You can look into opportunities in-state or in neighboring states, so that your people are a much shorter trip away from you while you complete an assignment. However, agencies may remove the travel stipend from the contract if you do not plan to live elsewhere for the role, so this must also be considered before taking a travel nursing job close to home.
Isolation can also be remedied by providing information about the location to a nurse on a travel assignment. Many staffing agencies that specialize in travel nursing offer resources for easing the transition, and at blueStone, we supply travel guides to help ensure our clinicians have the best chance at thriving in their new location.
This challenge comes alongside the benefit of varied experience. While travel nurses have the opportunity to learn a lot of new things on assignment, they also face the pressures to do so.
Procedures, technology, and the people they work with will take some getting used to as they begin their travel contract. While this ultimately serves as excellent professional development for RNs, it can still be tricky to manage on top of other stressors, especially if this learning curve presents itself often (through multiple travel contracts).
Living in a new city will also present challenges, and clinicians will have to put in extra effort to learn commuting routes, find the right services, and fit in with the flow of the city they are placed in. This challenge can highly vary from one location to the next, so it can be a determining factor in where a travel nurse accepts an assignment from.
With blueStone’s on-demand support, our clinicians can reach out to receive helpful information about their role or the location they’ve been placed in to decrease the sometimes harsh learning curve present in travel contracts.
Finding a Travel Nurse Role
If you’ve weighed the benefits and challenges of being a travel nurse and are interested in finding an assignment as one, you have many options. There are lots of healthcare staffing agencies that place travel nurses, and you can choose one based on your needs and preferences.
At blueStone Healthcare Solutions, we are well aware of the benefits and challenges of travel nursing and use this insight to bring the best possible employment solutions to our contracted clinicians and the organizations we work with. Our impressive team of healthcare recruiters and account managers are ready to assist you in navigating the complexity of travel nursing and provide support throughout your assignment.
We are a trusted healthcare staffing agency specializing in traveling nurses, and we are well-equipped to place you in a role that works for you and make sure that the process is carried out smoothly and as quickly as possible. Speak with our recruiting team now or browse our open traveling nurse positions!