When you hear the word “local travel nurse,” often you think of multiple perks like more pay, flexibility, new skills, new people, and work-life balance. Did you know that you can have those exceptional perks as a local travel nurse with the choice to come home with your family each night?
Some nurses contemplate traveling locally because they think they have to quit their day job and travel across the state for their contract; this isn’t always the case. If you’re looking into local travel nursing, it’s crucial to think about how you will manage your work-life balance. This article will help you do just that!
THREE QUESTIONS TO DETERMINE WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Before you know there’s an imbalance, it’s essential to assess your current balance in life. Determining the imbalance can help you focus on what you can change. First, ask yourself the following questions:
1. AM I GIVING AN EQUAL AMOUNT OF TIME FOR WORK AND NON-WORK ACTIVITIES?
Think about work as your 12-hour shift and non-work as family, friends, and your self-care. Are you giving 60+ hours at work a week and only 24 at home with family, friends, and yourself? If so, you’re imbalanced.
2. AM I INVOLVED IN BOTH WORK AND NON-WORK PURSUITS?
Burying yourself in work will carry over into your home life and therefore keep you in an imbalanced state. How involved are you at work? Are you the charge nurse, preceptor, and attending committee meetings?
3. AM I EQUALLY SATISFIED IN MY WORK AND NON-WORK ROLES?
Too much of a good thing is still too much. You may love being a nurse, but anyone who is working 24/7 will burn out and end up hating their job. Assess how satisfied you are with your job and assess the satisfaction of your home life. Are your kids or spouse telling you you’re at work too much? That is a telltale sign that they miss you at home.
If you feel an imbalance in any of these areas, becoming a local traveler can improve your work-life balance.
4 REASONS WHY TRAVELING LOCALLY HELPS WORK-LIFE BALANCE
1. IT'S EASY TO AVOID POLITICS
A travel nurse can avoid the politics and hassles the permanent staff nurses deal with daily. Temporary staff nurses have a different plan from permanent staff. Local travel nurses aim to learn from new co-workers and gain new skills that they never had the chance to explore. The local travel nurse has one core job, care for patients. Consistent learning helps nurses stay engaged in the job.
2. HIGHER WAGES = FEWER HOURS
You can save more money for the short-term and long-term with a higher salary. A travel nurse receives a higher wage than permanent staff, lessening the need to work more shifts. There is no need for the stipend for housing, so all the extra funds built into a travel assignment convert to the hourly wage. Guaranteed hours are built into the local travel nurse's contract. This perk is one that local per diem or regular staff do not have. The travel nurse usually does not have to take low census days when census drops.
3. SCHEDULE FLEXIBILITY
Setting your schedule can improve your ability to do outside of work activities. Local travel nurses can do this before signing the contract. The local contract can have a “no surprises guarantee” built into the agreement.
4. YOU GET A BREAK
All travel nursing and local contracts allow for a natural break from your work, giving you time for a vacation. Proper breaks allow a worker to achieve an improved work-life balance. Workers in the United States take the least amount of vacation time and the rest of the world. On average, Americans take about 10 days off, including holidays over the course of a year. In other countries, it is much more. For example, in the UK, they have 37 paid time off days per month, Germany has 33, and Japan has 25. The local travel nurse can set the time between assignments to allow more vacation time.
Can You Be A Travel Nurse Close To Home?
The short answer is, yes! You can be a local travel nurse, but there can be some restrictions, depending on the healthcare facility, travel nursing assignment, and your tax home. Ask your travel nursing recruiter what those restrictions are (if any). Sometimes healthcare companies require that you live outside of a 50-mile radius from the facility, which means you will need to drive further.
Potential Benefits of Local Travel Nursing
There are several potential benefits to local travel nursing and taking local contracts. Some benefits include better work-life balance, earning higher pay, and working for different local hospitals. Since you are staying in your own state, you will also be comfortable with and knowledgeable about your own state nursing scope of practice.
Potential Downsides of Local Travel Nursing
There are some potential downsides for local travel nurses as well. Some downfalls include not receiving tax free stipends, a housing stipend, or getting to travel across the country. Since you will stay local around your current location, you also may not have the opportunity to work with different patient populations.
Work-life balance is important for your relationships and your health. The myth of working three days a week entices nurses into the flexible profession without accounting for any other parts of life. Restructure your imbalanced life with local travel nursing and enjoy the perks of becoming a travel nurse.
Janine Kelbach, RNC-OB
Janine is an RN, BSN with her certification in inpatient OB. She has been a labor and delivery nurse for nearly 20 years in Cleveland, OH. She started freelance writing in 2013 and now works from home fulltime, while still at bedside parttime, to be with her two boys, two Danes, and husband.