Is Travel Nursing for You?

by Angela Stevens on April 2, 2009

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Healthcare workers, particularly nurses, are highly susceptible to burnout. After working for two years in the nursing department of a psychiatric hospital, I know my nerves were fried. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I worked in the pediatric unit, and the emotional stress of taking care of all of those kids was just too heartbreaking, or maybe it had something to do with the change in management style that made working in the milieu unpleasant. Either way, I experienced a common feeling – burnout – and I left the job.

One way to avoid job burnout is becoming a travel nurse. Short-term assignments mean you don’t have to stay in one place too long, so even if you find that you don’t get along with your nurse manager, or one particular institution just isn’t a good fit for you, a change is right around the corner!

Travel Nurse photo by SarahMcD via Creative Commons

But there are some questions you should ask yourself before deciding to become a travel nurse.

Do I have the experience?
Most travel nursing agencies require at least one year of clinical nursing experience before you can become a travel nurse.

Am I ready to travel?
You may need to make arrangements for someone to look after your home, or find storage space for your belongings if you’ll be giving up the lease on your apartment.

Do I orient quickly at new jobs?
If it takes you a while to get your bearings whenever you start a new job, the sort of short-term assignments you’d accept as a travel nurse may not be a good fit for you.

Am I a people person?
You’ll get to know a lot of different people as you accept different travel nursing assignments, so it’s helpful to be personable.

Can I take it?
Staff nurses working with you at various facilities may be jealous of your higher salary and better benefits, which can make the work environment difficult at times. And just like when you get floated to another unit, you will probably end up doing some of the least desirable tasks available.

Can I go with the flow?
Because you’ll end up in different locations across the country, you may find yourself in towns and cities very unlike your own. Different hospitals and institutions will have different policies that may take some getting used to.

If you’ve answered all of these questions and think you would like to become a travel nurse, you’re ready to begin your job search. Good luck, and remember we’re here to help.

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