For nearly 10 years, veteran medical-surgical and medical-surgery telemetry nurse Debbie Murray has dotted the map as a travel nurse. From California to New Hampshire, Murray has sharpened her skills and touched the lives of patients from coast to coast. Of the many factors that have contributed to her rewarding travel nursing career, Murray cites career development, professional networking, flexibility, and the ability to meet her financial goals among the most gratifying aspects of her career.
Chief among Murray’s list of travel nursing pros is the opportunity to sharpen her skills and learn in a variety of settings.
“Travel nursing has given me more knowledge; it has helped me learn so much more about nursing,” says Murray. “I’ve had exposure to so many different specialties. I have worked in the cardio-vascular and thoracic unit, where I got to see heart and lung transplants, which I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. I worked on a liver transplant floor and witnessed procedures I’d never seen. I recently took an assignment in a doctor’s office. I had never worked in a doctor’s office before, but through travel nursing, I got to try it out. Travel nursing gives you the experience to try different things within your specialty and help expand your knowledge of nursing.”
On a related note, Murray also appreciates the exposure to different hospitals and offices as an opportunity to network and explore future potential full-time employment.
“Right now, I’m really happy with travel nursing, so I don’t see stopping anytime soon,” says Murray. “But one of the great things about travel nursing is it has given me connections to different hospitals if I ever want to settle down. It gives you the opportunity to see, for example, if you like working at a big teaching hospital or a small community hospital. It gives you the opportunity to see what kind of environment you really enjoy.”
“I know as full-time staff, I would not be able to take time off in the summer and around holidays to spend with my family, but as a travel nurse, I can take that time off,” she says. “There’s just more flexibility surrounding scheduling than there would be if I was a floor nurse.”
That flexibility also extends to Murray’s desired locales — whether far flung or close to home.
“Recently, I’ve preferred to stay closer to home, since I have a dog. RNnetwork worked with my current hospital to establish a relationship and set up a contract, so I could have the option for assignments here,” says Murray. “But before I stayed local, it was great to go out and see the country. I got to live in different places and experience different parts of the country where I probably wouldn’t have lived otherwise.”
Meeting financial goals
Finally, Murray appreciates the monetary benefits travel nursing has afforded her. The ability to save through travel nursing has helped her meet financial goals, including purchasing a home.
Advice for prospective travel nurses
With nearly a decade of travel nursing experience under her belt, Murray is a wealth of information for nurses considering travel nursing as an avenue for professional and personal development. “Travel nursing is definitely a great thing for anyone to try,” says Murray. “When people ask me about it, or if nurses ask me about travel nursing because they’re thinking about it, I always encourage them to do it.”
Start with experience
Murray recommends gaining a few years of solid experience to take with you to your travel nursing assignments. “You have to have experience in nursing before you start traveling, because you have to be confident in your skills and know what you need to do as a nurse,” says Murray. “You’re expected to start and go.”
Murray also suggests developing a strong relationship with someone at each assignment with whom you are comfortable asking questions and getting oriented. “As a new travel nurse, I always found someone I was comfortable going to with questions,” she says. “Nursing is the same, but different hospitals have different policies and procedures. It’s important to learn what is unique about each hospital. It may be something you do all the time, but any given hospital may have you do it a little differently.”
Try new things
Last, but not least, Murray encourages travel nurses to enjoy the experience and use travel nursing to try new things. “Have fun! Pick a place you might never have thought you were going to go. Go there and enjoy experiencing a new place,” says Murray. “And if it’s not the right fit, remember it’s only 13 weeks and then you get to try somewhere new. You can do anything for 13 weeks.”