There are numerous nursing fields to choose for a career, and becoming a travel nurse is an option that is growing in popularity. A travel nurse experiences unique challenges and opportunities that make this position especially meaningful. Here is what you should know about becoming a travel nurse after earning your nursing school degree.
As a travel nurse, you can choose the region where you want to work, and you can designate the assignment length you prefer. For example, you are interested in travel nurse jobs in Nashville, you can look at the job postings for the city and even the hospital or facility where you would like to work. You might start at one hospital for a few weeks and then move on to a physical rehabilitation center for a couple of months. Another hospital position could open after that, enabling you to stay in the area indefinitely while working at different sites.
If you enjoy traveling, you have a good chance of finding temporary nursing assignments in the places you want to see in all fifty states and beyond. Even if your preferred area doesn’t have any nursing assignments readily available, something could open up in the near future.
Accommodations and Support
Your travel nursing agency will help you find suitable accommodations near your assignment facility. They can assist you or advise you about support services like obtaining or maintaining nursing uniforms, processing paperwork, and car rental as well as public transport. Often, the travel nurse office can answer questions and provide guidance for just about any type of nursing assignment you might be interested in. Travel to and from the assignment location can also be arranged with their coordination.
As a travel nurse, you will have a choice of assignments that can be short-term or long-term in a wide range of locations. You can work in a hospital, at a doctor’s office, or conduct home health care services and wellness checks in various communities. You might be offered a short-term assignment of perhaps two weeks, and if that goes well, you could be invited to extend your assignment for several months. One of the most convenient aspects of being a travel nurse is that you can travel and work when you want and turn down other assignments when you have other things to do.
Since nurses are always in demand, you may be asked to fill in as a shift supervisor if you are qualified to do so. You might serve as a unit coordinator or as a patient liaison, depending on the medical facility’s organization and needs. In these roles that might differ slightly from your regular nursing duties, you can utilize latent abilities or learn new skills that will broaden your marketing appeal for more expansive nursing roles.
A travel nurse also has a choice of scheduling times and days. You can ask for an assignment that requires just two day shifts of eight hours each per week. You might prefer to work three evenings or five days per week. Of course, you may want to be flexible in considering assignments with different scheduling times if you are eager to work. Your willingness to travel and possibly return for future assignments will make you an asset for hospitals who appreciate your work.
Pay and Benefits
At most medical facilities, working the evening or night shift comes with a pay differential that is higher than the usual day schedule rate. Being available to work weekends during the day or evening shift might give you preferential standing, as many full-time nurses with family obligations prefer not working weekends. Some facilities pay more for weekend shifts. If you work a double shift, meaning two back-to-back shifts of eight hours each, you can often earn overtime pay for the second shift. Holiday shifts usually pay a higher rate, particularly when you work evenings or nights.
Benefits vary, but you might be eligible for reduced rate health care coverage as well as accident insurance, life insurance, and tuition reimbursement if you decide to take additional nursing classes and work toward a master’s degree in nursing. Sick pay is typically included in the benefits package. Sometimes a personal day, like a birthday, may be paid as a day off as well.
Traveling to different areas of the country can bring you in contact with other people and communities with whom you are unfamiliar. This is often an exciting opportunity to acquire or practice a second language as well as become immersed in another culture. You will likely be exposed to other family customs and traditions in caring for their loved ones who are ill, which can be an enriching experience.
You can also see how medical practitioners in other parts of the country treat patients, and the conditions that are common in that area might not be seen much where you come from. For example, Lyme disease might be more common in New England than in the Southwest. Obesity and diabetes are more prevalent in certain regions, while cancer rates sometimes climb in areas that are more industrial with higher pollution rates.
Build Your Skills
A travel nurse will learn a huge amount of new information while working at various sites around the country. You will witness other medical assessments and treatments that you might not have been aware of before. As a visiting nurse of sorts, your help will be welcome, and other medical staff will want to make you feel comfortable by answering questions or explaining things as needed. Take notes and collect resources during these assignments to prepare for future related work in your travels.
So, consider travel nurse jobs in Nashville or elsewhere until you decide on the type of nursing you want to do in a regular full-time position. Or, you might want to be a travel nurse long-term to see how other facilities handle certain cases, like COVID-19, for example. Combining travel and nursing could be a dream career.