Like any profession, travel nursing can have its ups and downs. You’ll have long and stressful days, but you’ll also meet amazing people who are there to help. You’ll get to travel the country, but you might have occasional bouts of homesickness. You’ll make good money, but you won’t get the traditional benefits of full-time work. Here are some common pros and cons of travel nursing and how they all balance out, with insights from RNnetwork travel nurses.
PRO: Seeing the country
An obvious benefit of travel nursing is the “travel” part of it! When you work as a travel nurse, your work will take you across the country. If you’ve always wanted to see Alaska, Hawaii, New York, or anywhere in between, travel nursing is a great way to get paid to do so. Sara Cox, a travel nurse, says that another benefit of traveling is that you get to test out living in new cities. She’s from South Carolina, but she has wanted to move for a while now. Travel nursing lets her see different parts of the country, which helps her decide what she does and doesn’t want in a place to live.
“It’s nice because you get to see what feels like home, and you get a little, small taste of an area before you make a big commitment,” Sara says. “I’ve met some absolutely amazing people. It’s always an adventure; it’s always exciting.”
CON: Missing family and friends
Travel nursing assignments generally last at least six weeks, and that’s a long time to be away from friends, family, and our furry friends. However, with technology like FaceTime and Skype getting better and better, it’s fairly easy to keep in touch with friends and family. Travel nurses can also create a schedule that works for them and their families, so they often end up seeing family even more than they did as full-time nurses. For example, travel nurse Amy Eveland works three days a week, so she can be home more often.
“Even with traveling, I am actually home more than I was before. I get to spend quality time with my kid,” says Amy. And when she’s traveling, she’s “still available to them via phone, via text, they know they can reach out to me at any given time.”
PRO: More flexibility and control of your career
With travel nursing, you’re in control. Generally speaking, you can tell your travel nursing agency where you want to go, when, and for how long, and they’ll do their best to accommodate you.
Veronica Asimolowo’s husband works for the Army, which means she and her family move frequently depending on his job. With travel nursing, Veronica simply matches her travel nursing location with where her husband is stationed.
Meanwhile, travel nurse Debbie Hunt is later in her career. She likes having flexibility to work an assignment for the original time period. Then, she can take as much of a break between assignments as she needs. Or, if she likes the assignment, she can extend it as long as she wants.
“I have the flexibility to have time off in between assignments so that I can go home and check on my house and be with my friends,” says Debbie.
CON: Not always feeling part of the team
One of the best parts of being a nurse is the camaraderie between nurses. Nurses work together to take care of patients, and that teamwork can form strong bonds. Sometimes, travel nurses feel that they can’t make those same bonds. However, this doesn‘t have to be the case, and you can often connect more quickly than you think.
Chris Hegglund explains that travel nurses get a ton of interesting experiences, both professional and personal. This means that it’s easy to talk to other nurses. “As a travel nurse, you’re kind of held in a higher regard. Nurses and patients want to know what brought you here, so it’s an instant connection with people,” says Chris.
PRO: Make good money
At the end of the day, any job is made better when you make more money for the work you do. Generally speaking, travel nursing pays as much, if not more, than traditional nursing. Travel nursing is all about providing care to the places that need it, and the rules of supply and demand generally work in your favor. Plus, travel nursing comes with a housing stipend, a per diem, and other money-saving benefits.
Travel nurse Allison Bouck is currently travel nursing to save money for becoming a CRNA. “I’ve been successfully saving a whole bunch of money so I can go to CRNA school and be without an income for two years while I’m in school,” says Allison. “I’m glad that I can do this and do what I love and also get paid and save some money for things I want to do in the future.”
CON: Working with staffing agencies (if they don’t care about you)
If you’re thinking about becoming a travel nurse, one of the most important things to consider is which agency you want to work with. Some agencies see travel nurses simply as dollar signs, and they’ll do whatever they need to keep profits high. Other agencies see travel nurses as friends and partners in their efforts to help provide care where it’s needed the most.
RNnetwork was there for travel nurse Kathleen Johnson in a particularly difficult time of her life. Kathleen’s brother had complained about back pain in a way that set off alarm bells for Kathleen. Sure enough, he had a rare cancer, and it was Stage 4. Kathleen wanted a travel nursing job at the same hospital her brother would be in, along with an apartment that would be safe for him in his immunosuppressed condition. Most agencies couldn’t fill her request of both the job and the apartment, but RNnetwork was able to make it happen in partnership with another staffing company.
“My brother was 49 years old and we didn’t think he’d turn 50,” says Kathleen. “He’s now 55 years old and cancer free. And that’s all due to RNnetwork getting me that apartment.”
There are pros and cons of travel nursing, but ultimately, it’s a fantastic way to see the world and help people along the way.