It’s Over! I Finished My First Assignment: The Pros and Cons of Being a Travel Nurse
I just completed a 21-week travel assignment in Baltimore, MD, and it taught me an amazing amount about the field of travel nursing. For all of my non-nursing friends, a travel nurse is a nurse who chooses a city to undertake and they work there as a healthcare professional in their specialty for an allotted amount of time (standard is 13 weeks). Lodging meals, and incidentals are usually paid for as long as the nurse is working greater than 50 miles from their permanent residence. The details of lodging, stipends, and more is a post for an entirely different day, it is very detailed!
1. Life is not always about the money. It is very possible to have a plethora of money and be the unhappiest person in the world. However, it does feel good to be appreciated for your hard work. One of the best things about travel nursing is that you finally feel as if you are being adequately compensated for all of your work as a nurse.
2. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity! Who else or what other profession allows you to move from city to city with all-expenses paid? You get to indulge in the culture of a new city and new people without taking on the hassle of relocating permanently. It's almost as if you are “test-driving” places you may possibly want to live without actually committing. Not too many people get that opportunity.
3. Be prepared to leave a better nurse. Traveling from hospital to hospital and working with different doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals is an amazing learning experience. I walked away from this assignment witnessing procedures I had never seen before and taking care of patients with diagnoses that kept me on my toes. The experience as a whole helps you learn that there is more than one way to arrive at the same destination, and it ultimately makes you an amazing and more well-rounded nurse.
1. You are there to fill the holes. It was hard giving up complete authority of when I worked, especially coming from a facility in which we self-scheduled. However, travel nursing quickly reminds you that your schedule is completely out of your control. You may have thought that planning your life six weeks in advance as a staff nurse was hard, but planning thirteen weeks in advance as a travel nurse is even harder. Things may come up in the middle of your assignment that you really may want to attend, but if you do not submit the days you need off at the beginning of your contract, then it is a large possibility that you may have to work. Spontaneity is not a travel nurse’s best friend.
2. It takes a while to get comfortable. During my assignment, not only was I a travel nurse, but I was also a float pool nurse for the Intensive Care Units (ICU). This meant that I worked on all five of the different ICUs of the hospital. Getting acclimated to the unit, the policies, and the ‘ins and outs’ of the hospital usually take a while. By the time you are finally comfortable it’s time to move on to the next city.
3. Sometimes it is hard to say goodbye. Growing attached to a facility, their staff, and the patients you have worked with for thirteen weeks and then leaving it all behind can be hard. Not to mention, the hassle of packing up and moving every thirteen weeks is exhausting. My advice to travel nurses or those interested in travel nursing is to extend your assignment whenever you can (if you like the facility of course). It simply gives you a little more time to bask in your comfort zone.