Everyone has their reasons for embarking on a new career path. The beauty of nursing is that it can take you in so many directions, not just geographically, but also professionally (e.g. job title and responsibilities). Your nursing license has the flexibility to adjust, transform, and mold to your needs and gives you the option to remain active, vibrant, and fluid throughout the profession. Travel nursing is a huge tool at your disposal for creating this environment of growth for yourself.
Many claim that the main hurdle preventing them from starting a career in travel nursing is that it never seems like “the right time”. If you ever seek the advice of self-help “gurus”, they’ll always say that “the right time” is now, if not yesterday, last week, or last year. Whereas, if you ask me, I’d agree in saying that there’s never a “right time”. Change is scary, and stability is comfortable. However, no growth comes from your comfort zone. It’s definitely easier to come up with a million excuses or alternative plans that indirectly act as stalling tactics for a much-needed change, and I get that. I stalled for nearly a year before I said, “Let’s do it – now is as good a time as ever;” drafted my resignation letter; and signed my first contract. For me, that realization and the subsequent transition into the travel nurse world have been the most liberating experiences imaginable.
I understand that it can be quite intimidating to shift into this lifestyle. I understand that it can remove you from all that you’ve known – your family, your friends, your hometown, your facility, your unit, your coworkers, your favorite pizza place, etc. I understand, too, that in some cases, it is truly not a period in your life where this degree of flexibility is feasible due to various obligations. However, let’s look at some of the circumstances that make starting a career as a travel nurse both practical and enticing.
1. Travel More
The desire to travel is probably the most popular reason for pursuing a career in travel nursing (shocker – I know). Traveling allows you to become well-rounded and immersed in other cultures, ways of life, and landscapes. When you couple that wanderlust with a way to fund your adventures, travel nursing becomes a no-brainer.
When choosing assignments far away from home, your new environment can serve as a “vacation” with the ability to make money 3-5 times per week, depending on contract requirements. Often, nurses with low seniority at their permanent job may find themselves frustrated when not getting their requested vacation time off and opt to go per diem or start travel nursing for more flexibility.
As a side note: you have the ability to request days off prior to signing a travel contract and can also space out time between assignments to allow for trips and breaks.
2. Permanently Relocate
Life has the ability to pull us in different geographic locations. Sometimes, it’s to be closer to family. Sometimes, it’s to follow a significant other’s job. Sometimes, it’s to avoid subjecting yourself to bad weather (I’m looking at you winters in the northeast). Whatever the reason, occasionally, you need to move.
If you’ve ever had to try to find a job long-distance, you know that this can be a challenge. It’s hard enough to get a callback when you live down the street. If your resume says that you’re out of town, you might never get that opportunity to interview, no matter how qualified you are.
Travel nursing in your target location gives you some time to scope out the area, see where you might want to live, research where you might want to work, have an in-person interview without having to fly in, and even give you an opportunity to have an “on-the-job interview” (i.e. getting a permanent job offer after completing an assignment if you find it’s a good fit).
3. You’re “Over It”
This is going to mean something different for everyone. Obviously, no job is perfect and nurses are quite resilient, but everyone has their “tipping point” where enough is enough. These don’t always have to be negative. For example, you might feel that you’ve learned all you can at your small community hospital and want a change of pace as you look for a larger teaching hospital to pursue. Other times, certain issues can run you down and cause you to resent your current situation. Whether it be the job politics, struggling to get that 2% raise come evaluation time, or something else more personal, you feel it in your bones that it’s time to move on and wish to avoid staying in one place for too long.