Can a Travel Nurse Take an Assignment Close to Home?
Health Carousel Travel Nursing
October 12, 2022
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Many nurses find the travel nurse life appealing— always being on the road with nothing holding them down, exploring a new city or state every few months. However, some nurses aren’t able to be as carefree and might worry about being too far away from home due to family obligations or personal reasons. Local travel nursing provides nurses the opportunity to work in their hometown or surrounding area while still enjoying some of the benefits of travel nursing.
If you are curious about travel nursing but you’re nervous about moving thousands of miles away from home, consider trying a local travel nursing contract first to “get your feet wet”.
For advice on how to find the perfect local travel assignment, check out these helpful tips below.
Travel Nursing Jobs Close to Home
Local travel nursing comes with many personal and financial benefits. Accepting an assignment close to home allows nurses to enjoy the benefits of travel nursing while still being close to family and friends.
This is ideal for nurses who face challenges due to the reality of travel nursing and distance from home. For example, those who aren’t able to relocate their family because of spousal work commitments or not wanting to disrupt children’s schooling and social life.
Some nurses also choose local travel to take on a second short-term job to earn extra money.
Other nurses will choose local contracts and commute each way or try to block schedules (work all of their days in a row) and return home on days off between shifts.
There are several perks to accepting travel nursing jobs close to home. Travel nurses often get paid at a higher rate than staff nurses. Another perk of local travel is not having to apply for an additional state license, especially if you aren’t part of a compact state.
Some nurses will choose to accept travel assignments in their home city or state to check out other healthcare organizations without committing full time. This can be beneficial to learn the ins and outs of a hospital without taking a permanent position and soon realizing that you aren’t happy in that environment. Nurses often prefer travel nursing to stay out of workplace politics. Changing assignments frequently helps to not get wrapped up in any workplace drama.
Whatever your reason is for staying local, you can make travel nursing work for you without the “travel”.
Stay Flexible for More Travel Nursing Assignment Opportunities
It is important to stay flexible when looking for travel assignment opportunities close to home. You may have access to a limited amount of assignments due to staying within a smaller geographic location, rather than the entire United States. This can be especially challenging if you live in a rural area with fewer hospitals. You may want to extend out to the next closest city to have more access to assignments.
Choosing an assignment close to home may not provide the flexibility in schedule that other travel nurses who are willing to travel farther have. You may also have a harder time finding a position in your specialty depending on your location. If you’re willing to compromise on some of your needs with a travel nursing assignment, you’ll have an easier time finding one in your preferred location. Be patient and you will find an assignment that works for you soon enough.
Reach out to a travel nurse recruiter to find out which opportunities are available in your desired location or surrounding areas. These assignments can be hard to find, so a recruiter who is on the same page as you will make the process much easier! A great recruiter will be able to help you manage your options, as well as recommend other assignments that match your interests.
Keep Your Mind Open to Numerous Opportunities as a Travel Nurse
Since there can be many restrictions and regulations on what constitutes a travel nursing assignment within a short distance, it’s important to keep your options open when searching.
It’s important to find a recruiter that you work well with. Be upfront about the distance you are willing to travel so that your recruiter can find an assignment that works best for you.
Local assignments can sometimes be harder to find, be open to numerous opportunities and you will find the best fit for you. You may need to work on a unit that isn’t your first choice or isn’t the specialty that you prefer. Having a solid background in nursing and being flexible will help open up more opportunities for you. Connecting with a great recruiter will make the process much easier!
Local travel nursing may be a great option for you if you are hesitant to relocate or are not able to travel far from home due to family obligations. The best thing about travel nursing is the freedom to choose where you want to work and when you want to take an assignment. You can work as far away from home as you want or stay close to home. Whatever your reason is for staying local, it is entirely possible to still be a travel nurse without having to travel far.
Tax-Related Considerations for Travelers Working Locally
The travel nursing industry can be confusing at times. Assignments that are too close to your home can land you in hot water if you accept tax-free stipends and free housing. You also may not qualify for the same benefits package as other travel nurses who are willing to travel a distance, such as tax-free housing stipends, meals, and incidentals, which can significantly lower your pay as a travel nurse.
Always consult with travel nursing agencies about distance rules and internal rules that hospitals may enforce before accepting local travel assignments. Many hospitals and staffing agencies enforce a radius rule, a minimum number of miles a nurse must live from the healthcare facility to be considered a travel nurse. The 50-mile rule is generally used as a rule of thumb, meaning some healthcare facilities will expect travelers to live more than 50 miles from their permanent residence to be considered for the assignment. Although some facilities will consider nurses whose permanent residences are 200 miles away or less as non-travelers, so make sure you know each facility’s rules on travelers when looking for assignments before committing to anything.
Radius rules and policies related to travel nursing are often put into place to deter staff nurses from leaving their full-time positions and taking travel positions at healthcare facilities close to home. Make sure you confirm with your travel nurse recruiter which rules apply to your assignment and what benefits you are eligible for.
Make sure to consult with a tax professional to ensure that you don’t run into any issues at tax time- have them review IRS regulations about local travel nursing contracts and requirements regarding a travel nurse’s tax home. The IRS states that accepting tax-free stipends depends on whether a person needs to sleep to meet the demands of work while away from home, which applies to most travel nurses.
There are also rules surrounding tax homes that can become complicated for nurses who take on continuous assignments without having a permanent residence. While many recruiters are well-versed in travel contracts, it is best to consult with a tax professional about your unique situation.
Pros and Cons of Local Travel Nursing
Still need a little help deciding if becoming a local travel nurse is right for you? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of local travel nursing:
Security in knowing friends and family are close by
Ability to still live at home or travel a short distance on days off
Lower out-of-pocket costs for travel
Use travel nursing as a second job
Increased pay and ability to save more money
Perks like housing stipends
Add valuable experience to your resume
No need to obtain additional state licenses
Networking with other local healthcare professionals
Opportunities for travel nursing contracts will be narrowed
You won’t get to explore new cities or states
May be difficult to find a local contract within your specialty
You may have a longer commute if you choose to stay local
May possibly have a wait for a local travel assignment to be available
You might miss out on tax-free stipends if you don’t duplicate housing expenses
Some facilities have milage or radius rules
Lauren Rivera is a nationally certified neonatal intensive care nurse with over 15 years of experience. She serves as a nurse expert offering support and educational classes for women from preconception through childhood. Lauren is also a freelance writer with works published on several nursing sites. She develops and curates content for various healthcare companies, and writes continuing education modules for other healthcare professionals.
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