4 Reasons to be a Traveling Nurse

Posted on Thursday, August 4th, 2011 at 6:41 pm.

Anne Woods

Personal and professional growth-not to mention a chance to explore the country-are awaiting nurses who decide it’s time to give travel nursing a try.

MAYBE YOU’VE ALWAYS HAD a secret yearning to see the country, to take off in search of adventure, wherever it might lead you. Maybe you’ve always stifled

that urge because you thought you were tied down by your job.

Maybe not anymore.

Now is the perfect time to reconsider, reconnect with your dreams, and realize that as a travel nurse, you could have both: the adventure of travel and the

career rewards of nursing.

With the nursing shortage deepening, health care facilities nationwide are scrambling to fill vacancies. Many are turning to travel nursing companies for

help-and that could make you a hot property. You know what you have to offer in travel nursing; maybe you’re wondering what travel nursing has to offer you.

Here are just a few reasons to consider becoming a travel nurse.

1. Expand your skills and knowledge base. Travel nursing “makes nurses better nurses,” says Brian Hekman, director of corporate communications for Cross

Country TravCorps. No matter where you work, he says, you’ll be exposed to different ways of looking at nursing practice and you’ll acquire new skills and

knowledge that will put some muscle into your curriculum vitae. As a travel nurse, you’ll have access to a variety of assignments around the country, from

small rural hospitals with only a few beds, where you’ll be a jack-of-all-trades, to large urban teaching centers, where you can specialize in the nursing

area of your choice. Each experience helps you grow as a nurse: At one hospital, for example, you could be learning the latest technique in

negative-pressure wound therapy; at another, you could be mentoring staff nurses unfamiliar with this technique.

2. Take control of your career. Feel as if you’re stagnating in your present position? Tired of the hospital politics? Travel nursing may be the perfect

opportunity for you to get a needed change of scenery, literally. You’re in the driver’s seat as a travel nurse: You have the freedom to decide what you

want your next assignment to be.

Hekman encourages nurses to “shop around for the atmosphere that you want.” Perhaps you’d like to gain experience working with sophisticated, high-tech

monitoring equipment or exposure to advanced, cutting-edge procedures your current position can’t offer. Or maybe you’re attracted to the slower pace and

greater patient contact that a smaller hospital could offer. Working with your recruiter-possibly the most important relationship you can develop as a

travel nurse-you can tailor your assignments to meet your professional goals and personal preferences.

You can even use travel nursing as your chance to try a different practice setting. If you’ve always been a hospital-based nurse, for example, you could ask

your recruiter to look for an assignment in an ambulatory care center, a skilled-nursing facility, or even a managed-care organization. The flexibility,

Hekman says, is “liberating.”

3. Benefit financially. Pay scales for travel nurses are comparable to-and in most cases, even better than-staff nursing positions. Plus, as a travel nurse,

you have the opportunity to earn bonuses for completing your assignments, for recruiting other travelers, and soon, depending on which travel nursing

company you sign with. One hospital in California, for example, was willing to offer a hefty bonus for travel nurses who would work over the Christmas

holidays. Hekman says that on average, a travel nurse can expect to earn 10% to 15% more than a staff nurse, factoring in bonuses and other incentives.

Benefits are attractive too. Medical and dental insurance coverage are pretty much a given. From there, the benefits vary by travel nursing company and may

include 401 (k) and matching contributions, free housing, travel reimbursement or a travel allowance, various types of insurance (such as life, disability,

and professional liability), free or low-cost continuing-education courses, and licensure reimbursement, among others.

4. Broaden your children’s horizons. Have children? Not a problem: Recruiters are willing to accommodate just about any situation, including finding housing

suitable for travelers with children. As a result, many travel nurses take their children-and their spouses-with them on the road. The experience can be

invaluable for the children, helping to expand their viewpoint. They have the chance to explore the country in more depth than they could on the typical

family vacation, plus they can interact with people from different cultures, something they might not get to do in their own hometown.

Don’t want to move your children around during the school year? You can still be a travel nurse. You could request an assignment with an easy commute-say,

in the next county or in a bordering state. Then in the summer, when the children are out of school, you can take to the open road.

There’s no question that travel nursing will test your mettle and help you grow, both personally and professionally. With just a few days’ orientation at

each assignment, you’ll draw on the confidence you have in your nursing skills and adapt quickly and efficiently to new situations in your new environment.

You’ll challenge your perceptions and open yourself to new experiences. And along the way, you’ll make memories that you’d never have if you’d stayed at


By Anne Woods, RN, CRNP, APRN,BC, MSN

Anne Woods is the clinical director of journals at Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Ambler, Pa.; a nurse practitioner at The Wellness Center, Chandler Hall in

Newtown, Pa.; and adjunct faculty for Immaculata University, Immaculate, Pa.



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