If you’re considering travel nursing for the first time, you’ll likely turn to co-workers and friends for information. While these people can often give you an excellent glimpse into the world of travel nursing, especially if they have travel experience themselves, there are unfortunate situations where myths are spread. Travel nursing is ever-evolving, and one RN’s personal experience as a traveler may be completely different from another’s simply because the two nurses worked with different agencies or at different facilities.
To clear up these misconceptions about travel nursing and help you make educated decisions, our team of recruiters is here to bust five common myths!
2022 Travel Nursing Trends
Over the past several years, the world of travel nursing has grown tremendously, and so have travel nursing companies. Due to the high demand for nurses nationwide, travel nursing pay packages have increased profit margins for travel nurses, along with tax free money (stipends) and higher net pay.
There has been a slight decrease in the demand for travel nurses, but travel nursing companies still have many contracts with varying pay rates. Some contracts have low taxable base rates with higher stipends (tax free money), which means higher net pay and profit margins.
What You Should Know for Travel Nursing
Before we get into the most common travel nursing myths, first let’s discuss some basics that you should know about travel nursing.
Usually, to apply for a travel nursing job, you must have at least 1-2 years of nursing experience. This depends on your specialty and hospital needs. Travel nurse assignments are usually about 13 weeks, ranging from six weeks to one year. Healthcare facilities work with travel nursing agencies to pay you a contracted amount of work hours per week. Typically, you will receive a weekly paycheck from your agency. You will receive a contract with your assignment details as a travel nurse. Details will include the healthcare facility, length of your assignment, start date, hourly rate, housing and meal stipends, etc. It’s crucial to understand the ins and outs of your pay package before signing.
Research the locations you are interested in before speaking to a recruiter. Once you’ve found the perfect location, look around for activities and interests to do on your days off. Social media chats and groups have great ideas. On the other hand, sometimes a location seems great because of the pay, but there aren’t many activities or places to visit on your off days.
As mentioned, always review your contract and the entire pay package before signing. If you have any questions, ask your travel nurse recruiter. If you aim to make a minimum profit margin for your assignment, total your entire travel nursing pay package. Consider the cost of travel nurse housing, taxable base rate, and any other stipends, as this can vary. Assignments with low taxable base rates will most likely bring higher take-home pay in your travel nursing pay package.
Also, make sure your travel nursing licenses are in order and up-to-date. If you need any CEUs, there are many free continued education program courses online.
COMMON TRAVEL NURSING MYTHS
Starting a career in travel nursing is exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. Above, we visited current travel nursing trends and things you should know about travel nursing. Now, let’s debunk some travel nurse myths.
Myth #1: You won’t have important benefits like health insurance or retirement plans.
Completely false! Reputable travel nursing companies offer quality health insurance plans and things like dental and vision coverage and mental health resources. Because of the popularity of travel nursing, top agencies are now also providing 401(k), retirement plans, paid vacation time (PTO), and mental health resources. Some agencies even offer reimbursement for travel nursing licenses and free continued education program credits. You are traveling to hospitals with high-priority needs and should be rewarded for your hard work! Some nurses fall in love with traveling and experiencing new locations, so they decide to make travel nursing a long-term career. Because of the excellent benefits and travel nursing pay packages now offered, traveling is now a lucrative option for those who love to explore.
Myth #2: Working a lot of temporary travel assignments looks bad on a resumé.
Exactly the opposite! Having a variety of nursing experiences is always an asset. Travel nursing actually makes you more marketable because it highlights your adaptability. Nurses are known for their ability to “work anywhere,” and those who travel actually do! Potential employers like candidates who utilize their expertise and have a quality, meaningful experience in the field. Working in a wide range of facilities can give nurses invaluable experience that can be taken with them anywhere! Additionally, working several travel nursing assignments in different places can help the nurse better understand what they really want in a permanent position.
Myth #3: Travel nurses have to move every 13 weeks.
Not necessarily. 13 weeks is generally the standard length of a travel contract but can be shorter or longer, depending on the need. Sometimes, however, travel nurses are given the option to extend their contract if the hospital/facility is a good fit and the need remains. One of the best perks of being a travel nurse is flexibility. If their personal life and finances permit it, a travel nurse can take paid vacation or time off between contracts. Planning ahead with your recruiter is important to figure out how to best meet your goals.
Myth #4: You don’t have much control over where you go.
The beauty of travel nursing is that you are in control. While getting a contract within your preferences cannot be guaranteed, most recruiters work diligently to match you with the best available options. That being said, you always have the option of accepting an offer or not. The more flexible you are with shift preference and location, the more likely you are to find a job that meets your needs quickly. A travel nursing agency cannot force you to take on an assignment! You can choose your assignments and make the best decisions for your lifestyle and goals.
Myth #5: There are only travel nursing jobs in big cities.
Small town, rural hospitals get short-staffed, too! There are travel nurse positions open throughout the country, not just in places like New York City or Los Angeles. Some locations are more popular than others and may have greater competition for travel nursing contracts. Also, simply because of the city population size, some areas are more saturated with open travel nursing jobs. Traveling can give nurses the opportunity to work in very different atmospheres, from level I trauma centers in urban areas to small community hospitals in farm towns.
Remember, assignments have varying pay rates. Therefore, your travel nursing pay package (including the taxable base rate, travel nurse housing, and other stipends) will differ for each assignment. Some locations have low taxable base rates compared to others.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that we’re done debunking travel nurse myths let’s review some frequently asked questions of travel nurses.
What is the 1-year rule for travel nurses?
Travel nursing jobs have a one-year limit rule. This means that you cannot stay more than 12 months on the same assignment or location. Travel nursing companies have to abide by this rule, as it’s a rule from the IRS for tax purposes. Therefore, almost all travel nursing contracts will not be extended past the one-year point.
What don’t they tell you about travel nursing?
Being a travel nurse requires a lot of flexibility and adapting to change quickly. As a travel nurse, it’s important to meet new friends and coworkers along the way, as it’s easy to become lonely. For more information, check out the travel nursing blog about 5 things to know before starting your travel nurse career or travel nursing job tips.
What a travel nurse should not do?
Before beginning any assignment or signing your travel nursing contract, review and understand your entire pay package. Calculate your net travel nursing pay, especially if you have a minimum profit margin or income you would like to make. In addition, research your destination ahead of time and plan what you would like to complete on your off days. When researching travel nursing companies and potential locations, join groups, social media chats or read travel nurse testimonials. They can provide some great insight. Click here to review additional travel nursing job tips about how to make your assignment a breeze.
Have more questions about travel nursing or want to read travel nurse testimonials? Check out the Travel Nurse Academy or our travel nursing blog from HCTN, featuring videos on travel nurse pay, housing, medical insurance, benefits, and more! If you’re interested in searching for travel nursing jobs, check out our job board. Or try using our On Demand app, where you can save and compare jobs and much more. Join our full circle of support, where we offer tips and insight on your health and benefits.