If wide open spaces and rugged, natural beauty call to you, your next travel nursing job may be awaiting you in Wyoming. This Rocky Mountain state has more than 30 million acres of protected land that welcomes visitors, locals, flora, and fauna alike. From a healthcare perspective, Wyoming has a rapidly aging population and vast rural areas in need of greater access to care. Nurses looking to make an impact in underserved communities while expanding their horizons may enjoy a closer look at Wyoming.
Read on to learn more about life, leisure, and travel nursing in the “Cowboy State.”
1. It’s a Nurse Licensure Compact state
One of the biggest appeals of travel nursing in Wyoming is the state’s participation in the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The NLC allows for nurses to have one multi-state license, with the privilege 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 helps remove the often cumbersome expenses and paperwork involved in securing multiple licenses.
2. You can bring care to communities in need
Wyoming is our nation’s least populated state, with immense rural regions. As such, many Wyoming residents lack proximity and critical access to care. The state’s healthcare system faces many of the same nursing shortage challenges plaguing the rest of the country — a lack of new nursing graduates, a large percentage of the current nursing workforce close to retirement, and an aging population.
In fact, according to a recent study by the AARP, Wyoming is growing older faster than the rest of the country. The study found that by 2055, Wyoming’s population of residents age 85 and older will grow by 227 percent and make up more than 5 percent of the state’s population. That rate of growth is 20 percent greater than the national average. This increase in the state’s elderly population is coupled with an anticipated decrease in the state’s younger population. This combination of an elderly population and a shrinking young workforce could lead to a “serious crisis when it comes to providing care for older Wyomingites.”
Many efforts are in place to help improve Wyoming residents’ access to healthcare, including state-funded nursing scholarships and the state’s participation in the NLC. There are also plans to build a new veterans’ skilled nursing facility — the first in the state — which would provide long-term care to veterans and their families.
For nurses interested in dedicating their skills to medically underserved communities, Wyoming represents an area of high unmet need.
3. You’ll have an amazing adventure
Wyoming is perhaps best known for its vast plains and wilderness areas, which are home to many notable national parks. Yellowstone National Park, the first designated national park in the world, is nearly 2 million acres of resilient, natural beauty. The famous park delights visitors with a variety of animal species, dramatic canyons, geothermal springs, and the iconic Old Faithful geyser.
Just south of Yellowstone, near the town of Jackson Hole, is Grand Teton National Park. Travelers most often visit the park in the summer, when wildlife sightings are abundant and adventurers can catch a whitewater raft down the roaring Snake River. The park also offers more than 230 miles of hiking trails and stunning scenic drives along Jenny Lake and the Signal Mountain Summit Road. For snow sports enthusiasts, a winter stay affords access to downhill and cross-country skiing or snowshoeing the area’s snow-covered trails and roads.
And they don’t call it the Cowboy State for nothing! Wyoming is cowboy country and home to numerous dude ranches that give visitors a taste of the Western way of life. Dude ranches range from luxurious resorts to working ranches that are still in operation. Guests can participate in a variety of activities, from horseback rides and fishing to real-life ranching experiences.
Beyond outdoor recreation, Wyoming offers visitors a wealth of arts, entertainment and dining options. Try out a chuck wagon-style dinner and cowboy show, or swing by Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel in Cody for their famous prime rib. Search out Wyomatoes — tomatoes grown at 7,400 feet elevation in Big Piney, which are highly coveted by chefs throughout the state. And for dessert, don’t miss the sweets at Meeteetse Chocolatier. They’re famous for their small-batch chocolate truffles, with such local flavor twists as prickly pear cactus fruit, sage, sarsaparilla and huckleberry.
Consider Wyoming among your travel prospects
Wyoming is a strong travel assignment candidate for nurses seeking unrivaled outdoor recreation, wide open spaces, and the opportunity to serve communities in need. Add to the list Wyoming’s participation in the NLC, and the state has much to offer travel nurses.
Are you a travel nurse who has completed a travel assignment or is currently on assignment in Wyoming? What advice would you offer a fellow travel nurse considering Wyoming for a prospective travel assignment? Let us know in the comments below!