As an experienced staff nurse, you may have worked with travel nurses in the past. In fact, you have possibly even considered answering the call yourself—imagining life as a travel nurse, moving to work in facilities in dire need of your skill set. Even if you know current or former travel nurses, you still may be wondering: Why travel nursing?
At Health Carousel Travel Nursing, our team has worked with countless travel nurses, all of whom have different motivations for making this career move. Take control of your career faster when you travel with us. Get submitted quickly to top travel nurse jobs and be first in line for an interview. Click here to get started today. Below we outline the evolution of travel nursing and the latest nursing news. We also discuss 5 insanely good reasons why nurses choose travel nursing and common travel nurse FAQs.
Importance of Travel Nurses
Hiring traveling nurses is very important in the nursing world. While hospitals often hire PRN hospital employees to help fill the gaps in staffing shortages, sometimes this isn’t enough. This is why travel nurses are important. They help bridge the gap in patient care in areas of high nursing demand. In recent years, international travel nursing has even expanded, where nurses travel to aid hospitals in areas that experience natural disasters or have critical needs. Just like staff nurses or PRN hospital employees, travel nurses have a variety of specialties, ranging from operating room, medical, and neonatal intensive care unit nursing.
Evolution of Travel Nursing
When thinking of the evolution of travel nursing, our starting point is often Florence Nightingale and the Crimean War, where she helped provide medical care to wounded soldiers. During this time, many women volunteered to help victims of the war, traveling where needed.
However, it wasn’t until around the late 1970s that travel nursing started to emerge in the United States. In Louisiana, during Mardi Gras week, many hospitals were overwhelmed in the area by the number of patients. The hospitals called upon nurses from around the area to come and help with bedside nursing jobs, so they wouldn’t be as overwhelmed. After seeing how hospitals could attract nurses to different areas and hospitals due to staffing shortages, many health care facilities began hiring traveling nurses throughout the country. This is where domestic travel nurses emerged. Over the next few decades, travel nursing developed into full-fledged travel nursing agencies to support and represent domestic travel nurses.
...And Where it is Today
Many healthcare facilities in tare hiring traveling nurses to help fill bedside nursing jobs. This is mainly due to area staffing shortages, seasonal employment, or higher acuity admissions. Sometimes areas experience natural disasters, where travel nurses are called upon to help relieve an unexpected influx of patient volume. Bedside nursing jobs have even expanded internationally to overseas nursing jobs. Some international health care facilities hire international travel nurses to work abroad and provide medical care.
Reasons to Choose Travel Nursing
Just like traditional full-time nursing jobs at a hospital or clinic, people choose travel nursing for various reasons. Next, let’s review some 5 insanely good reasons to choose travel nursing and travel nursing tips.
1. ALLOWS FOR ULTIMATE FLEXIBILITY
Travel nursing is the pinnacle of work-life balance. Typically work assignments last around 13 weeks, with a 36-hour work week. Depending on the travel nursing assignment, some travel nurses choose to have a 48 to 60-hour work week to earn extra overtime pay and stipends. With 13-week travel nursing assignments, you have the option to schedule time off between assignments, explore new cities, and take extended vacations. Some travel nurses choose to also pick up a PRN nursing position to have a fallback between assignments as well.
Alternatively, travel nursing jobs offer different shift options as well. Are you a perpetual night-shifter who is curious about what it’s like to work day shifts? Do you constantly work 12-hour shifts and wonder what 8-hour shifts would be like? If you’re interested in trying alternative shifts without committing to a PRN nursing position, travel nursing jobs provide the flexibility to allow you to test out a new schedule. People choose nursing jobs like these because you can pursue options you may have been hesitant to commit to in your permanent job, and may discover that you love the change!
As a travel nurse, you also have the flexibility of choosing where you live. For example, you may be interested in moving states but are feeling apprehensive about committing to the big move. Travel nursing is a great way to “try out” the area before moving there permanently. With assignments sometimes lasting as little as six weeks, it’s a great way to see if you like the location you're interested in permanently moving to.
2. CHANCE FOR FANTASTIC TRAVEL AND ADVENTURE
If you are known for daydreaming about your next vacation, travel nursing gives you the opportunity to wake up every morning with a new location to discover. With travel nursing, you can have your accommodations covered while exploring cities you’ve only dreamed about until now. There are many travel nurse locations to choose from, including Washington State, Hawaii, and Florida. Travel nursing agencies’ typical work assignments are located within the United States. However, some travel nursing agencies offer international travel nursing assignments. Some overseas nursing jobs and travel nurse locations include Haiti, Australia, and countries throughout Europe.
For those nurses missing friends and family in distant states, travel nursing provides the opportunity to spend time with them. Imagine spending three months in Tennessee with your sister who is expecting a baby, your son who got his dream job in Boston, or in the weeks leading up to your daughter getting married on the beach in Florida—travel nursing can help make this happen. Did you know speed matters when submitting your application? Don't miss out on your dream job because you were 'too slow'. When you travel with us, you'll be submitted faster than your peers so you can be first in line for an interview. Click here to get started today.
3. EXPANDS YOUR RÉSUMÉ
Travel nursing builds your CV in ways that a permanent job may not. It allows you to work closely with diverse nursing units and patient populations. As you know, many nursing skills are transferable to other specialties. For example, you currently work on a medical-surgical unit and are interested in being more specialized in orthopedics. There may be a travel nursing opportunity to work on a unit strictly dedicated to orthopedic patients. Or perhaps, you are a cardiovascular intensive care unit nurse and prefer cardiac step-down patients. There are travel nursing opportunities in many cardiac step-down units throughout the country.
Working for a variety of facilities provides a nurse with additional autonomy and skills. If you’re interested in a particular patient population or nursing specialty and would like to try it, travel nursing gives you options to choose from.
Some hospital units require that you hold certain certifications, such as basic life support (BLS), advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), or pediatric advanced life support (PALS). If these are required, your travel nursing agency will most likely reimburse you for receiving these. Ask your agency if they offer reimbursement for specialty certifications or licensing fees. If you work in a certification specialty area like the operating room, obstetrics, or critical care, a nursing certification may be highly preferred.
Also, you will learn documentation in different electronic medical record (EMR) systems, which is a great addition to your resume. This shows potential new employers that you have the skills to learn new systems. Since travel nursing means being able to jump in quickly and work well with others, it also shows that you have the ability to collaborate and communicate effectively.
4. ABILITY TO CUSTOMIZE YOUR EXPERIENCE
You have the freedom to tailor your travel nursing experience in multiple ways. You have the option to choose assignments based on your wants and needs. Meaning if you want to choose an assignment based on higher pay, location, or assignment length, there are always options. You just need to communicate your preferences to your travel nursing recruiter up front. They will help you find an assignment that fits your preferences. Sometimes preferences change between assignments, which is another great way that you can customize your travel nursing experience.
What if you decide that you want to spend the winter season in Colorado or Washington state to enjoy the snow? Or maybe you want to spend the summer around the Florida beaches. Travel nursing gives you the opportunity to choose your next destination.
Some travel nurses choose what they are looking for in a career while avoiding unit politics and discord with management. Others seek career paths where they are given new opportunities to learn and expand their skill sets. What if you don’t particularly like the specialty or facility of your current travel assignment? Then remember, travel assignments usually last 13 weeks and you can choose a different location, facility, or even specialty for your next assignment. On the other hand, you may find that you enjoy your current assignment and choose to extend your contract (if they allow). Be sure to explain to your recruiter what is important to you and work with him or her to find a job that matches your goals.
Travel nursing also gives you the option of expanding your professional and personal network. As a travel nurse, you will meet many new people, including friends, providers, and healthcare workers. You never know who you have the opportunity of running into!
5. PROVIDES A SIZABLE INCOME
A travel nurse salary is typically higher than a permanent staff nurse. When thinking of a travel nurse's average pay scale, we tend to think about their hourly rate. However, you also need to factor in stipends, available overtime hours, and a variety of other benefits travel nurses receive. To learn more about a travel nurse’s average pay scale, click here.
As we mentioned, travel nursing income is not just based on hourly rates. As a travel nurse, you will also have the opportunity to earn extra income. While on assignment, travel nurse agencies offer housing and meal stipends. If you choose to take the housing stipend and find your own housing over the corporate housing option, you can potentially earn more. For example, if you find housing that is $500 per week and the travel nursing agency gives you a housing stipend of $750 per week, then you can pocket the extra $250 and use it elsewhere. The same example pertains to meal stipends.
Many travel nurse assignments also offer guaranteed hours, which means that if the census is low then you are guaranteed to have paid hours. You may have to float to another unit, but at least you won’t miss the money on your paycheck. On the other hand, this usually isn’t true for staff nursing jobs. With staff nursing jobs, you may get put on call or have your shift canceled completely. If your shift is canceled, you have to use your paid time off (PTO) hours, choose to not get paid, or pick up a shift on a different day.
Most travel nursing agencies also offer travel reimbursement and healthcare benefits. With travel reimbursement, you can most likely travel to and from your next assignment for free, if you plan accordingly. Healthcare benefits are usually little to no cost for travel nurses, and by staying with the same agency, you are covered in between assignments as well (pending starting your next assignment).
Land Your Dream Job Faster with Us
With tons of travel nursing agencies to choose from, get first in line for top jobs when you travel with us. With our On Demand app you can apply for your next travel nursing assignment in minutes, upload your nursing documents all in one place and partner with your recruiter for rapid speed to top offers. Get started in our powerful web app today. We also offer great travel nursing benefits, including mental health support and resources that support travel nurses 365 days a year. To learn more about our Full Circle of Support benefits, click here.
Before we go, let’s review some common travel nurse FAQs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do you want travel nursing?
Just like people choose nursing as a career, many nurses choose travel nursing for a variety of reasons. Travel nursing offers flexibility and the ability to travel while working. A travel nurse's salary is typically higher than that of a staff nurse, and this doesn’t even include stipends, overtime pay, or other perks. Since you will work in various settings and locations, you will gain invaluable experiences, meet new people, and expand your professional networks. If you’re interested in your first travel assignments, click here to learn about a few first-time travel nursing tips.
Why do hospitals prefer travel nursing?
Many hospitals and health care facilities prefer hiring travel nurses and will work with a travel nursing agency. Hiring travel nurses reduces staffing costs because they do not have to hire permanent nurses to help with influxes in demand. They do not have to incur the costs of onboarding a new nurse or offer benefits. A travel nursing agency offers a plethora of experienced nurses who are already trained and have a variety of backgrounds and specialties.