Are you trying to figure out if travel nursing is right for you? If you’re interested in learning more about a career as a traveling nurse, it’s important to consider both pros and cons. There are many great things that a travel nursing career offers, but just like any other profession, being a travel nurse is not for everyone.
While there are many benefits to travel nursing, there are also aspects that aren’t going to fit every nurse’s personal preferences for both life and work. We’ve done our best to give an honest representation of some of the biggest pros and cons of travel nursing.
Benefits of Being a Travel Nurse
Let’s start off with the good! Here are just some of the pros of being a traveling nurse.
Combining Work & Travel
As a traveling nurse, you’ll be able to live in exciting new places all across the country while having your job follow you. This makes it a perfect match for nurses who enjoy traveling or those who simply want to live and work somewhere warm during the winter months. It’s also a great way to visit family and friends who live in different parts of the country.
Since travel nursing contracts are usually 13 weeks long, you’ll have the flexibility to schedule as many contracts as you want throughout the year. Whether you want to have a few weeks off in between contracts or work as much as possible, it’s entirely up to you. Also, once you’re on location, you’ll have the ability to pick up more shifts if you want.
Earn More Money
Many nurses are able to increase their pay by becoming a travel nurse. Pay rate will depend on location and other variables, but traveling nurses can also earn contract completion bonuses, tax breaks, referral bonuses, and more that increase their total earnings.
Another great perk that travel nurses earn is free housing. With many staffing agencies, a nurse can choose to accept free housing or a housing stipend that allows them to choose their own place. Either way, it’s another great bonus that will increase a travel nurse’s take home pay.
A travel nursing career can be great for your resume, offering the ability to work at some of the greatest hospitals around the country and with some of the best minds in healthcare. Travel nurses get the opportunity to work on the cutting edge of medicine.
Exposure to New Places & Cultures
Not only do you get to work and live in new cities, but you can also experience new cultures. From the East Coast to the West Coast, and everywhere in between, there are different cultures to experience across the country. For many people, experiencing new places and cultures is their favorite part of traveling, and being a travel nurse allows you to fully experience it for 13 weeks or more.
Relocation Made Easy
Nurses considering relocating to a new city can take 13-week assignments in some of their favorite areas to see if they like living there. Travel nursing offers the opportunity to get a taste of what living in different cities is like without having to fully commit to a move.
Cons of Travel Nursing
Here are some of the potentially negative aspects of a career as a traveling nurse.
Dealing with Unfamiliar Environments
While some people enjoy new experiences, others can be thrown off with constantly unfamiliar job and home environments. New hospitals can sometimes be difficult to navigate, and as a traveling nurse, you’re constantly learning the ropes at new facilities.
Changing Pay Rates
It can be difficult for some to deal with having a varying income depending on the contract they’re on and whether or not they’re between contracts. Certain jobs will pay more than others, so financial planning will be extremely important as income fluctuates and some bills remain constant.
Uncertainty of Next Contract
Sometimes, a nurse won’t know when their next contract will be, so it can be a bit unnerving to be at the end of one contract without another one being set up yet.
LRS Healthcare’s solution: At LRS Healthcare, we typically start the process of creating a new contract seven or eight weeks into an assignment. If you want to stay where you are, we’ll negotiate with the hospital for an extension or find another hospital in the same city. If you want to try somewhere new, we’ll get started on the search for a new contract.
It Can Get Lonely
Travel nurses that don’t bring their families or pets along with them can get a bit lonely or homesick on their 13-week assignments. This is why many traveling nurses bring their families with them on assignments, as long as it works for everyone involved.
LRS Healthcare’s solution: You’ll be given your LRS Healthcare recruiter’s cell phone number, and they’ll be available 24/7. If you need anything at all, even if it’s just someone to talk to, give your recruiter a call.
Cross-State Licensing Issues
Before you work as a nurse in a new location, you have to be licensed to work there. While there are quite a few compact licensing states that make it easy, some states can be difficult to obtain licensing for. This could limit your options as a traveling nurse or just cause an inconvenience.
LRS Healthcare’s solution: Licensing can be a lengthy and costly ordeal, which is why LRS Healthcare will reimburse any new licensing costs for our travel nurses. Plus, our experienced staff can help guide you through the process of applying for a new license.
Benefits Aren’t as Good
Some travel nursing agencies are unable to provide benefits that are on par with those offered for a permanent hospital position. Benefits will vary by agency, though, so it will depend on who you decide to go with.
LRS Healthcare’s solution: At LRS Healthcare, we’re proud to offer excellent benefits for our nurses that are just as good as benefits from a hospital. Our nurses will have benefits that include health, dental and vision insurance, life insurance, 401k, and much more.
Floating schedules exist in the travel nursing world, which require the nurse to “float” to areas of the hospital other than what the contract specified in order to fulfill their hours. This can be annoying for nurses who thought they were signing up for one thing and end up having to do something different.
LRS Healthcare’s solution: At LRS Healthcare, we’ll tell you ahead of time if your assignment includes the possibility of floating to different areas, and our agents will help you find a different assignment if you want to avoid the potential of floating all together.
If you’ve decided that a career as a travel nurse is right for you, apply with LRS Healthcare today. As an industry leader in healthcare staffing, we work to connect you with some of the best jobs around the country. Whether you’re interested in temporary or permanent nursing jobs, LRS Healthcare can help get set you on the path to your dream job.