Whether you’ve been travel nursing for one month or one decade, you’re likely familiar with the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The NLC is a multi-state license that allows nurses to practice in their home state and other participating NLC states without obtaining additional licenses.
The NLC’s reach recently expanded to include more states and among the newest states is Louisiana. Travel nurses may now practice in the “Pelican State” without the cumbersome expenses and paperwork involved in securing multiple licenses.
From buzzing nightlife in the French Quarter to the still serenity of the bayou, if Louisiana has been on your list of prospective travel nursing destinations, read on to learn more about what this southern state has to offer.
Significant need for nurses
Louisiana is home to 203 hospitals and healthcare institutions, including the nationally-ranked Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans. Three additional hospitals earned high-performing marks in specialties, procedures, and conditions, according to U.S. News and World Report.
However, the nursing shortage that affects states nationwide has particularly impacted Louisiana. The number of nurses reaching retirement age, an aging population, and a greater percentage of the population now eligible for healthcare all have contributed to the shortage.
The shortage is underscored by a trend away from new entrants to the field. Louisiana has seen a decrease of 6 percent per year in individuals seeking enrollment in schools of nursing, and the Louisiana State Board of Nursing predicts the state will have 1,700 unfilled registered nurse positions in 2020. Travel nurses can play an important role in filling critical nursing positions and expanding access to care for Louisianans.
Cost of living and quality of life
One of the primary benefits of pursuing a travel assignment in Louisiana is the state’s low cost of living. Housing costs in Louisiana are just 77 percent of the national average, and the cost of groceries, healthcare, and utilities all fall below national averages, as well.
Louisiana is one of the poorest states in the nation, with a poverty rate of more than 20 percent. Financial hardship can contribute to medically underserved communities. Travel nurses looking to make an impact may find a great deal of professional fulfillment nursing in communities in need.
Discretionary income has potential to go further in Louisiana. With its dense concentration of cultural amenities and entertainment venues, the town of Metairie, Louisiana graces USA Today’s list of America’s 50 Best Cities to Live In. According to the ranking, Metairie has a far greater concentration of restaurants, bars, fitness centers, and sports teams than is typical nationwide.
Fun, food, and festivity in the Pelican State
Louisiana’s history as a melting pot of people and backgrounds contributes to its distinctive culture today. When it comes to night life, Louisiana’s biggest city, New Orleans, sets the standard. From live jazz on Bourbon Street to the Mardi Gras celebrations, the city’s food, fare, and festivities are not to be missed.
That same distinctive culture is found on the menus of restaurants around the state. Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole cuisines blend French, Spanish, West African, Amerindian, Haitian, German, and Italian influences into dishes that are unique to the region. Sample the turtle soup at Broussard’s or dine on blackened alligator at The Court of Two Sisters. Grab a late-night po’boy at Mother’s or catch Jazz Brunch at Commander’s Palace.
History buffs will enjoy exploring New Orleans’ historic cemeteries, the renowned World War II museum, and the area’s many antebellum plantation homes and mansions.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the state’s unique aquatic ecosystems are varied and vast. More than 15 percent of Louisiana is covered in water — from the Gulf Coast to marshes, swamps, bayous, and rivers. Join a tour by boat or get closer to the landscape by paddling or canoeing through cypress and tupelo forests.
Travel nursing in the “Big Easy”
Veteran travel nurse Scott Carpenter counts New Orleans among his favorite travel nursing destinations.
“I spent five months in the Big Easy, New Orleans, and I had a great time,” said Carpenter. “I loved the museums, cemetery tours, and fun on Bourbon Street. New Orleans has so much history. That was a big reason why I wanted to start travel nursing — to see all the different states and what they have to offer.”
Consider Louisiana for your next travel assignment
For travel nurses interested in further developing their professional skills in a region rich in history, culture, cuisine, and entertainment, look no further than Louisiana. The state’s newly-minted status as an NLC state affords nurses the ease and flexibility to practice there.
Have you completed a travel nursing assignment in Louisiana? Share your experiences and travel advice in the comments below!