We work with a variety of travel nurses and the reasons why they travel are just as varied. For some, travel nursing can be a bridge between permanent roles, a way to try out a new employment option, or a shortcut to a fun change of scenery. For others, it’s an integral part of their long-term nursing career strategy. Meet five nurses who have used travel assignments as a way to enhance their personal and professional development.
Gaining more experience
Medical-surgical PCU nurse Nancy Abelson knows a thing or two about taking a leap. At age 57, she enrolled in nursing school to fulfill a lifelong desire to care for those in need. She graduated at 59, then completed several years in a permanent position with a hospital to apply her training, broaden her knowledge, and create a solid foundation of experience.
From there, she yearned to venture out — to find opportunities to help others and create connections. She sought professional development and personal fulfillment, and found both in the form of travel nursing.
“I have gained a tremendous amount of experience,” Nancy shares. “I like learning about new things: new medicines, new procedures, new equipment. I’ve enjoyed learning from other nurses and experiencing different situations at both big and small hospitals.”
In addition to the many professional benefits, travel nursing also contributes to Nancy’s personal fulfillment primarily through the new and genuine relationship she forges with patients and colleagues.
“I love my job. I love my patients, and I love my coworkers,” says Nancy. “I’ve made so many connections with my patients that you take with you when you leave at the end of the day and that you remember. I feel a great deal of compassion for my patients. I’ve always wanted to serve a medical mission, and in many ways, this has been my mission field.”
Becoming an expert
Amy Gonzalez loves traveling as much as she loves nursing, so to her, a flexible travel nursing lifestyle that mixed work with new life experiences was a no-brainer.
Once Amy started working her travel nursing jobs, she realized that they were more than just an opportunity to travel while working. Throughout her career as an emergency room nurse, Amy has been in a variety of emergency rooms. Each has slightly different systems and ways of doing things, and Amy has been able to build on the best practices she’s learned from each emergency room. Now, at each of her travel nursing jobs, her coworkers ask for her opinions on procedures.
Travel nursing has also given Amy new interpersonal skills. While the procedures across emergency rooms vary, the people who Amy meets during travel nursing are even more varied, she said. This has pushed Amy out of her comfort zone, but Amy said that once she learned how to work with anyone, her personal life benefitted just as much as her professional life did.
Moving outside of my comfort zone
While the professional benefits of travel nursing have been numerous and apparent for labor and delivery nurse Rachel Ronk, the personal benefits of travel nursing have been more intimate, yet profound.
“The personal growth I have experienced through travel nursing is something I didn’t expect,” says Rachel. “I always expect to leave the hospital feeling like I made a difference. Those feelings weren’t new to me. But the feeling of growth and confidence instilled in me through traveling has been huge. I feel like I’m an entirely new person since I moved here. I never expected to be where I am right now. I’ve learned a lot about myself.”
In all her experience, Rachel is most proud of the way she has been able to push herself out of her comfort zone. And that drive has given her the confidence to be deliberate and assured about her future career aspirations.
“I like comfort,” Rachel says. “I think we all like to feel comfortable in our own realm. So I’m proud of myself — proud of my growth and my ability to push myself. That’s not easy for me to do.”
Doing it on my own
As an empty nester, ICU nurse Angie Kyler was drawn to travel nursing as a way to have fun with her career and visit new and different locations.
“All you have to do is get out a map of the United States. You can literally close your eyes, point and say, ‘I want to go there,’ and your recruiter could make it happen,” says Angie.
What she didn’t expect was the impact travel nursing would have on her personal fulfillment.
“I didn’t realize I had as much in me as I have until I started traveling. And I didn’t realize how much of myself I was giving to others,” Angie shares. “I have always been there for my family, but I knew they had reached a stage where they could do it on their own. I needed to find my own focal point. Travel nursing has helped me find myself.”
Having fun outside of work
ICU nurse Brittany Paiva, wanted more opportunities after working three years as a nurse. When she saw the travel nursing benefits her friends were enjoying, she was intrigued.
“I saw how much fun my friends were having and everything they were seeing. When you only work three nights a week, there’s so much you can see on your days off,” Brittany says. “I decided to give travel nursing a try, and I love it!”
In addition to experiencing new locations, travel nursing has also helped Brittany grow professionally by exposing her to new systems, procedures, and facility types.
“I started my career as a float nurse, and I think travel nursing kind of encompasses that. You have to float to different units, and every three months you’re going to a different facility,” she says. “I’m getting a lot of exposure to things I wouldn’t see where I’m from.”