Lots of uncertainty can follow when deciding on a new experience, such as a profession that involves travel. Most people grow weary of the unknown, especially when it involves their career or livelihood. Still, for every travel nursing horror story you’ve probably heard, there’s a handful of amazing professional experiences to be had in this field! In fact, there are more than 25,000 travel nurses actively working in the U.S. So, it’s probably not the worst gig you can find — we’d even wager it’s one of the better ways to expand your nursing career!
Beyond just being able to meet new professionals and strengthen your network and resume, working in unique locations means you’ll see how healthcare varies throughout the country to gain a wholesome perspective. What’s so bad about that? If you're considering bringing your nursing skills on the road for the first time but don’t know what to expect, we’ll breakdown some of the common misconceptions about travel nursing to help you find your ideal travel assignment.
Misconception #1: You have to move every 13 weeks
While many nurses do choose shorter assignments, you don’t necessarily have to move once your contract expires. In fact, by working closely with your recruiter it’s often possible to line up several assignments in your desired geographical range! Additionally, there are often assignments that that will run for even longer than 13 months. Some could even turn into a permanent position if that’s the direction you’d like to take. When and where you move is all up to you — it just takes some coordination with your recruiter and a bit of networking finesse at times!
Misconception #2: Travel Nursing isn’t for established professionals
Although a sense of wanderlust is commonly associated with younger adults seeking adventure, past polls have found that the average age of registered nurses in the U.S. is 47 years old! Although older adults may have established their careers in one locations, this actually makes them some of the most valuable candidates for traveling positions given their breadth of experience. While younger nursing professionals may have more flexibility in their ability to travel, there’s really no age that’s best for travel nursing. Even some retirement-age nurses have hit the road in order to slowly transition out of the professional while enjoying some much-needed sightseeing!
Misconception #3: Travel nursing doesn’t provide stable income
While it might get conflated with the idea of a traveling salesmen or some artsy vagabond-type, traveling nursing is a completely sustainable career choice with the right planning and thought. According to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, nursing is projected to see a 19% job growth rate from now until 2022! This actually means travel nursing jobs will become more available than ever. For example, there is an urgent need in many hospitals because they are dealing with understaffing issues. While assignments can fall through at times, having backup positions available can ensure you’ll stay doing what you love without worrying about money.
Like anything that becomes routine, there are benefits and drawbacks. Yet travel nursing is something that can continually bring you new experiences. Even when the pay is what you need, many will tell you that the true value comes from meeting new people and really gaining a unique perspective about nursing and healthcare in general. All it takes is finding a recruiter you connect with, setting your career goals, and working to find opportunities that allow you to grow as a nursing professional.
Sure it can be a bit scary to travel to a new job and location, but that sense of adventure may be just the thing to really jump-start your career for the better!
Troy Diffenderfer has been covering the healthcare industry for several years. He's provided content for websites like AlliedTravelCareers.com and LocumJobsOnline.com. In his free time, he enjoys writing fiction and watching scary movies.