The Pros and Cons of Traveling Nursing

by Howard Gerber on November 15, 2012

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The Pros and Cons of Traveling Nursing

Thinking about a career as a traveling nurse, but aren’t sure it’s for you? There are a lot of perks, but there are some negatives as well….and some parts of the job belong on both lists, because one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Confused? Don’t worry, you’ll see.

Pros of a Travel Nursing Career

1. The travel. Obvious? Maybe. But have you stopped to think about all that travel has to offer? You choose what assignments to accept and where to go. It’s a great way to try Boston clam chowder in Boston and visit all the historic sights…maybe ride that silly duck tour. Or accept an assignment in Cincinnati in the fall to catch a few Bengals games….or the Yankees in NY.

If sports aren’t your thing, maybe you’d like to dip into history and visit Washington D.C. and colonial Williamsburg. Or follow the warmth and hop from coast to coast for the beaches.

2. The money. Travel nursing nearly always pays more per assignment than a permanent position, but the money adds up in other ways as well. All your expenses are paid. So not only do you pocket a more than competitive salary and often an attractive bonus package, you aren’t paying all those bills that would normally come out of your salary.

3. The networking. Your average nurses in the trenches can’t meet and impress the sheer number of doctors, administrators, and other nurses. The advantage of networking is simple. Employability.  The more contacts you have, the more likely you are to get a job when you decide to settle down. Put your best foot forward and people will remember you.

4. The freedom. You’re in control of your own career. Once in a while, you’ll land a bad assignment. But it’s only for a few weeks…and then you move on. If it’s really bad, you never have to go back. Few people have that kind of career freedom.

The Cons of a Travel Nursing Career

1. The travel. What? Wasn’t that on the pro list? It was. But travel can be stressful, and some people simply can’t conceive of leaving home and going from place to place. Today’s travel nurses, armed with iPads and face-to-face chats with friends and family, are much more connected than nurses from a decade ago, but it can still be lonely on the road. The good news: you can usually bring your pets, your spouse, your kids if they’re out of school, or a friend who needs a vacation. Sometimes you have to share accommodations, but as long as you’re up front about what you want, you can choose to take your living allowance and find your own place.

2. New situations. You know your job, but you’re walking in to a new working environment every few months, and it will not always be comfortable at first. You have to be adaptable and you have to be able to fit in, no matter where you land. You also have to have the ability to hit the ground running.

3. Opportunities lost. This depends heavily on your goals. If the endgame is to put down roots and move up the career ladder, then the answer is balance. Travel nursing looks great on a resume and gives you networking advantages you would not get otherwise. When the perfect opportunity knocks…a plum permanent assignment at a place you love in a location that suits you…you have to know it when you see it.

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Michele 11.29.12 at 2:15 am

Sooo true. I was a travel nurse. Landed a position that I did sign on for a permenant assignment for 2 years. I have been here now for 3 years permenant and sometimes feel travel nurses I work with have it so much better than me. I guess there is always pros and cons. Maybe I will travel again.

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