Its rugged mountains, rolling rivers, and pristine beauty have long inspired songwriters, poets, and authors alike. And West Virginia holds something equally inspiring for travel nurses looking to expand their horizons, explore the wild outdoors, and serve patients in critical need. Travel nurses in West Virginia can practice in nationally-ranked healthcare institutions or join a dedicated effort to bring greater healthcare access to rural communities. In either form, nurses play an important role in this state, where demand for nurses remains high.
Read on to learn more about travel nursing, life, and recreation in the Mountain State.
Nurse Licensure Compact status and low cost of living
West Virginia is an attractive destination for travel nurses due to the state’s participation in the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The NLC allows for nurses to have one multi-state license, with the ability to practice in their home state and other participating NLC states without obtaining additional licenses. The license makes it affordable and convenient to practice across state borders, and it helps remove the often cumbersome expenses and paperwork involved in securing multiple licenses.
Another significant benefit of practicing in West Virginia is the state’s low cost of living. Cost of living in West Virginia is well below the national average. Housing is the most substantial contributor, at just 52% of the national average.
Professional opportunities for nurses
West Virginia is home to over 70 hospitals and healthcare institutions. Among its ranks include one nationally-ranked institution (West Virginia University Hospitals in Morgantown, WV) and two additional hospitals that earned high-performing marks in specialties, procedures, and conditions.
The demand for nurses is high in West Virginia. In fact, the state has one of the highest concentrations of registered nursing jobs in the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to RegisteredNursing.org, there are also an astonishing 107 Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) in West Virginia. HPSAs are designated as having shortages of primary medical care, dental, or mental health providers.
Healthcare professionals in the state play a critical role in reaching underserved communities. Many nursing academic and professional groups in West Virginia are focused on reducing health disparities among rural Appalachians. For travel nurses seeking to make an impact while elevating their professional experience, West Virginia offers many opportunities to deliver care to patients in highest need.
Almost Heaven, West Virginia
West Virginia offers a wealth of unique travel destinations for locals and visitors alike. Each region of West Virginia boasts its own distinct character.
Fayetteville, in southern West Virginia, is the state’s adventure destination and offers an abundance of world-class outdoor activities. The area is famous for whitewater rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, and more.
You can also bike or walk on the North Bend Trail, a 72-mile long path spanning across north-central and western West Virginia. The North Bend Trail is part of the 5,500-mile American Discovery Trail, spanning the length of the U.S. Follow the trail through picturesque mountain towns, farmlands, over dozens of bridges, and through tunnels, one of which runs for nearly 2,300 feet.
In addition, West Virginia is home to some of the country’s most beautiful parks and public lands. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park marks the historic town in the Shenandoah Valley that was pivotal during the Civil War. Situated at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, the town has a storied history of industry, trade, academia, nature, and conflict.
Dining in Appalachia
West Virginia boasts a diverse and flavorful food scene. Its cuisine draws on influences from all over the world, with a signature Appalachian twist.
Morgantown, “West Virginia’s Tastiest Town”, is home to many of the state’s best restaurants, pubs, and diners. Be sure to visit Oliverio’s, an old-world Italian restaurant that’s been in the family for over 40 years. You can also sample some traditional Japanese fare at Ogawa or sip on a craft brew from Morgantown Brewing Company.
Consider West Virginia on your list of prospective assignments
For outdoor adventure, low cost of living, and an opportunity to dedicate your skills in medically underserved communities, look no further than West Virginia.
Are you a travel nurse who has completed a travel assignment or is currently on assignment in West Virginia? What advice or tips would you share with someone considering the Mountain State among their list of prospective assignments? Let us know in the comments below!
Updated April 25, 2022