You ever lay in bed at night wondering, “Is travel nursing worth it?” If you’re considering a career in travel nursing, then the odds are you totally have. And it’s a valid question! Let’s find out more about travel nursing, so you can decide for yourself if it’s the best move for you.
Is Travel Nursing Worth It?
Back to the basics
Now, before we can get into all the good stuff about travel nursing, it’s important to understand what it is. So, what is travel nursing?
What is travel nursing?
Travel nursing is like staffed nursing. The major difference is that instead of staying in one medical facility, travel nurses move around every so often to help with staffing shortages in hospitals, long-term care units, skilled nursing facilities, and other medical facilities across the nation. Typically, travel nursing assignments are 13 weeks long, although travel contracts can get extended if the facility needs additional help.
How to become a travel nurse
To become a professional travel nurse, you must earn your license as a registered nurse (RN). Luckily, there are several ways you can do so, including an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN). Once you complete the educational requirements, most travel nurse staffing agencies and medical facilities will also require certification in Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support.
To start practicing as a travel nurse, you must first pass the National Council Licensure Exam for RNs (NCLEX-RN), which tests you on your knowledge regarding nursing practice, conditions and treatments, how the healthcare system works, legal and ethical scenarios, and patient communication and education.
Next, it’s time to obtain your RN licensure, and we would suggest looking into the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). Through the NLC, your RN license is valid in all participating U.S. states, so that you don’t have to apply for several licenses in each state you work in. After dotting those I’s and crossing the T’s, it’s your time to shine as a real-life nurse. Gain as much experience as you can before beginning your travel journey, usually one-to-two years is recommended, and learn first-hand how nurses make an impact in our society.
So, to answer your original question, yes. Travel nursing is worth it and to find out why, we asked our Fusion travelers. This is what they said.
No. 1: It gives you the chance to explore the country
How many people do you know get paid to visit extraordinary destinations from their bucket list? Odds are, probably not that many, unless they’re fellow travel nurses. Travel nursing not only gives you the opportunity to help people, but it also takes you across the U.S. so you can do exactly that! And spoiler alert: Traveling does wonders for your mental health. Here are some science-backed ways traveling boosts your happiness.
Traveling reduces stress
You know the saying, “All work and no play makes [insert your name here] a dull person.” Well, that’s kind of the point we’re trying to make. Traveling gives you the opportunity to take a break from the daily hustle and bustle of real life, plus gives you a chance to really take in your surroundings. Since traveling can promote happiness, it can also lead to lower cortisol levels, leaving you feeling calm, cool, and collected. In fact, according to a study, more than 80% of Americans admitted significant drops in stress just after a day or two of traveling!
Traveling enhances mental resiliency
Now, I don’t know about you, but there are days where my brain is stuck in a real funk. And when that happens, traveling can be the perfect remedy to get you out of that negative state of mind. Believe it or not but traveling to and/or going to live someplace that excites and intimidates you at the same time is sure to toughen you up mentally and emotionally. What do we mean by that?
Think about it: You’re facing new challenges in a new environment, which essentially forces you to learn and adapt outside of your usual comfort zone. As a result, you can become more flexible, patient, and emotionally strong. Sounds like another win for traveling.
Traveling boosts creativity
We all have those days when the creativity naturally flows right out of us. And then, we all have those days when it…doesn’t. However, Columbia Business School research shows that immersing yourself in a new place increases your cognitive flexibility, depth, and “integrativeness of thought.” In other words, traveling gives you a boost in creativity, and who doesn’t need that every once in a while?
As a travel nurse, you can reap all these benefits and more just from traveling the U.S. And if that’s not enough for you, consider what Fusion traveler, Mark, said: “Travel nursing gives me a change of scenery and pace. Plus, I love to travel!”
No. 2: It allows you to meet new people and make lifelong friends
True story: I’ve known my two BFFs for 20 years (and counting). When you meet those people who bring out the best in you, you’ve got to keep them close. And one way to meet those people is by, you guessed it, travel nursing!
As we already know, travel nursing takes you to a variety of medical facilities and settings across the country. Each time you travel and provide care at a new facility, you’re given the chance to work and bond with other care professionals like yourself! From perm staff to fellow travelers, you’re guaranteed to meet new people and make friends on the job with every nursing assignment.
As long-time Fusion traveler, Norma, said, “I love to travel, meet new people, see new places, and learn new things! I’ve made many friends along the way that I still keep in touch with. I love what I do and do what I love! Why not travel and get paid to do so?!”
Plus, being in a new destination gives you the opportunity to explore your new surroundings! On your days off, take time to journey through your new neck of the woods, and meet the locals. You know, do as the locals do!
No. 3: It provides unique learning opportunities
Aside from the wanderlust, a major draw to travel nursing is the unique opportunity to learn. And we’re not just talking about your typical nursing learning experiences, although those are included. No—we also mean unique opportunities to learn about yourself, others, and life in general. You know, the works.
Learn new nursing skills
With each travel nursing assignment comes the opportunity to pick up new medical skills! Whether that’s a new treatment method or a piece of medical technology you’ve never used before, there’s a 100% chance you’ll learn something new on every job. And with each knowledge nugget you collect, the more successful you’ll be!
“I definitely think traveling has advanced my career,” said traveler, Cherith. “It has broadened my skillset in so many ways. Some hospitals are trauma hospitals and some aren’t, some have IV teams and some don’t—so, I have experienced and learned to work in all those settings.”
Plus, as a travel nurse, you’ll get to work with a broad range of patients and conditions, giving you even more clinical and technical experience to add to your resume.
Discover nursing career paths
Did you know there’s a wide variety of career paths for nurses? No, seriously! Take a look at all options available to you, and then consider that travel nursing provides those same career opportunities, but in locations all over the U.S.
- Certified dialysis nurse: One of the fastest-growing nursing specialties, dialysis nurses offer care to patients with severe kidney problems.
Search for dialysis RN travel jobs.
- Medical-surgical (med-surg) nurse: These nurses wear several hats to perform a variety of tasks, like caring for patients, administering medications, and assisting in surgeries.
Search for med-surg travel jobs.
- Emergency room (ER) nurse: ER RNs work with trauma patients in emergency rooms and urgent care centers.
Search for ER RN travel jobs.
- Intensive care unit (ICU) nurse: Like ER RNs, ICU nurses work with severe patients, but do so in the intensive care ward.
Search for ICU RN travel jobs.
- Pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) nurse: Similar to ICU nurses, PICU nurses work with patients who need intensive care, but PICU nurses primarily treat babies and children in need.
Search for PICU RN travel jobs.
- Nurse educator: With a combined passion for teaching and clinical care, nurse educators design, evaluate, and implement educational nursing programs for schools, universities, and colleges.
Search for nurse educator travel jobs.
Between you and me, your career path options are endless as a travel nurse. Truly, the limit does not exist, especially when you travel with Fusion Medical Staffing. Here, you can use all levels of your expertise to advance your career as a travel nurse. That means that, as long as you have the necessary certifications to back it up, you can flex all your nursing skills in the jobs you want.
Improve your people skills
A career as a travel nurse gives you the opportunity to chat and communicate with a myriad of people with different types of personalities, from patients to their families to coworkers, and more. Whether you’re in an introvert or an extrovert, this social practice helps improve your people skills, as well as build connections to expand your professional network.
“I have met a larger network of practitioners than I would have in a permanent position,” said traveler, Cherith. “I relish the opportunity to talk with nurses working in a variety of positions such as nurse practitioners, nurse managers, and clinical nurse specialists. As a traveler, initially you have to prove that you are a team player—you want your new coworkers to know that you are willing to help. You have to put in the extra effort to prove yourself because you’re coming in new.”
No. 4: It pays the bills, and then some
One of the most well-known perks of being a travel nurse is the chance to earn dolla dolla bills, y’all. Of course, the exact weekly pay package as a travel nurse largely depends on where you work. For example, you may find higher paying jobs on the West Coast where the cost of living is more extreme, as compared to other regions like the Midwest.
But the weekly pay isn’t even the best part of the deal—it gets better, if you can believe it. As a travel nurse, you’re not only entitled to weekly pay, but also tax-free stipends and company bonuses that cover the cost of temporary housing, continued education, and other travel expenses that you may accrue on assignment.
Have you ever heard of a “blended rate”? That’s what you can expect from travel nursing pay. What that means is travel nursing pay packages are made up of an hourly wage, a housing stipend, a per diem, and travel expense reimbursement, and only part of it is taxed. The catch is you must be able to claim a permanent tax home. Per the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a tax home is “the entire city or general area where your main place of business or work is located, regardless of where you maintain your family home.” Essentially, your tax home is the geographical area where you work as a travel nurse. Let’s break down travel nursing pay even more.
Travel nurse hourly wage
Like many professionals, travel nurses earn an hourly wage. For travel nurses, that includes a bill rate and a pay rate. The bill rate is the hourly amount that staffing agencies can charge the medical facilities for your work. The pay rate is the dollar amount you’ll pocket per hour.
While it may appear travel nurses make less an hour than perm staff, it’s only because those extra stipends and bonuses aren’t factored into the hourly wage. Don’t judge a book by its cover, and instead, do some research into travel nursing pay to get the full picture.
Travel nurse housing stipend
You may be familiar but traveling every couple months can really add up. To help alleviate the pain felt by your bank account, depending on the staffing company, travel nurses can opt for a non-taxable housing stipend. At Fusion, you have that option, and more.
When it comes to housing, you can pass the baton to Fusion’s housing experts, and leave the future of lodging in their hands. Or you can accept a housing stipend and find your own temporary housing unit. If that’s what floats your boat, then you should also know that you will be responsible for deposits, utilities, and other miscellaneous housing costs. The good news is there are lots of discounts available to you as a travel nurse and the housing stipend should cover most, if not all, of those expenses. Again, the exact amount you’re eligible for depends on where your travel nursing assignment takes you.
Travel nurse per diem rates
Like housing, meals and incidental expenditures (M&IE) can break the bank while on a travel nursing assignment. Which brings us to per diem rates!
The General Services Administration (GSA) is an agency within the federal government that sets the limit for per diem rates in the U.S. Rates for locations outside of the continental U.S., including Hawaii and Alaska, are set by the Department of Defense (DoD). Typically, within the states, standard M&IE per diem rates range between $59 and $70, but as you may have guessed, vary based on travel job location.
🌟 Fusion travel nurse bonuses 🌟
As a travel nurse within the Fusion family, you have the chance to earn bonus money without a ton of extra work. One way to put a few more bucks in your pocket is by referring a travel friend to the Fusion fam. That’s right, it’s that easy—all you have to do is spread the love. Another way to make more money as a travel nurse is by becoming a Fusion Med Staffing travel influencer!
“I’ve done a few different social media events with Fusion and it’s fun and rewarding to help people navigate this travel life, answer their questions about a company I believe in, and help them feel more at ease in making decisions about how to get into travel and how to choose a company,” said Fusion traveler, Rachel. “And as someone who is still learning to navigate travel life myself, working for Fusion and talking about my experiences has helped me self-reflect and grow too!”
As it turns out, patient care isn’t the only way to get more buck for your bang as a travel nurse. And while we believe money can’t buy happiness, we also know that it does buy new scrubs, meals at one-of-a-kind local foodie eateries, and adrenaline-inducing experiences. Either way, more money in the bank couldn’t hurt, right?
No. 5: It has a great job outlook
ICYMI, RNs in all specialties are wildly in demand, and that shows no signs of stopping. Over the past few years, nurses have been needed in medical facilities in virtually every U.S. state. Between the novel coronavirus and the aging Baby Boomer generation, many professionals predict nurses will remain in demand for years to come.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), RNs will face at least a 9% job growth between 2020 and 2030, adding nearly 200,000 job openings each year, on average, over the decade. Not only that, but an Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN) are expected to grow 45% between 2020 and 2030, creating almost 30,000 jobs per year.
If you’ve wondered, “What are the top nursing specialties in demand?”, then you’re in luck! Because we’re going to give you the top three, in no particular order:
Critical care nurses
When patients suffer from life-threatening conditions, whether that be an illness or injury, critical care nurses are the ones to ease their suffering. These specialty nurses master a variety of medical skills so that they can treat patients in ICUs, PICUs, NICUs, cardiac care units, ERs, and other urgent care centers.
Operating room (OR) nurse
These med-surg experts provide care to patients before, during, and after surgery. According to a survey conducted by the Association for periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), hospital directors, nurse managers, and administers reported an overall increase in the number of surgical procedures at their facilities. Because of the increase in surgeries, 33% of responding OR managers increased their staff to meet the demand. Since then, the AORN predicts a 2% annual job growth rate for OR nurses.
Responsible for treating patients with cardiovascular disease, as well as other cardiac issues, these nurses monitor an individual’s heart, administer medications, perform stress tests, and educating cardiac patients in how to better care for their heart. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is a leading cause of death for Americans, accounting for 1 in 4 deaths in the nation.
Regardless of your nursing specialty, your services remain wildly in demand in medical facilities across the country. Life as a travel nurse provides comfort and job security because there will forever be a need for your nursing skills.
If you’re considering a career in travel nursing, it’s natural to wonder if it’s all worth it. In our totally unbiased opinion, we say yes, but of course, that’s ultimately up for you to decide, young grasshopper. Whether you decide to pursue a travel nursing career to satisfy your inner globetrotter or because you want to gain the most nursing experience possible, there’s no wrong reason to become a travel nurse. And when you’re ready to make the jump, your Fusion family is ready with arms wide open.