While travel nurses and allied professionals have a rewarding career and higher average pay than their stationary counterparts, there are still challenges to consider. For many, they surface in the form of relationships.
Whether you’re single and trying to date or happily committed, medical travel—like any occupation—can pose specific challenges to your circumstances. This week we’re outlining some advice for both single and married travel healthcare professionals to think about as you navigate this exciting time in your career.
All the Single Ladies (and Gentlemen)
Meeting New People
The first major challenge of being single and trying to date while being a medical traveler is the difficulty of meeting new people. It can be tough enough to uproot and put yourself in a situation where you know very few people, if any. Trying to date on top of that can seem impossible to some. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to meet people in a new city without resorting to swiping right on dating apps.
Start at the hospital orientation. If there are other travelers in your facility, they’re probably looking to meet people as well, so seek them out. You’ll have a lot in common due to your career path and going out with them as a group can lead to meeting even more people at bars, restaurants and other activities outside work. Also, non-traveling workers at your facility will be a great resource to tap. They likely have larger friend groups outside the hospital, so you’ll be able to hang out with people who aren’t in your field. It can be a welcome change of pace to talk about something other than healthcare for once!
If you’re still having a hard time meeting new people, try a website like Meetup.com. You can join groups of people who share your interest. Whether you’re interested in learning to cook or training for a marathon, there are plenty of categories to choose from, one of which is sure to speak to you.
Canoodling with Coworkers
Dating coworkers seems like the easiest path to take. You work similar hours, can relate to the stresses of each other’s job and will likely bond over those things. However, there are risks to dating coworkers as a traveling medical professional.
First, you’ll want to be aware of your facility’s policies on relationships between coworkers to ensure you’re not breaking the rules. Then, you have to consider what will happen when your assignment is done. There’s a good chance the person you’re seeing will dislike the idea of a long-distance relationship, so be prepared to talk about your expectations early.
You’ll also want to beware “serial daters.” Some permanent employees at facilities which regularly hire traveling medical professionals will seek them out for a quick fling—that’s problematic if you’re in the market for a real relationship. If a person seems a little too interested in you too early, be wary of looking for something deeper until intentions have been made clear. It’s not all doom and gloom, though; there are plenty of travelers who met someone on assignment and ended up married. So be wary but don’t lose hope!
Revealing Career Details to Potential Partners
If you find someone you’re interested in having a real relationship with, you’ll have to spill the beans about the complications that may come with your chosen career. If you’re serious about the person you’re seeing, talk with them about extending your assignment as a potential outcome. That’ll be a good litmus test to see if they’re feeling the same way you are.
Worst-case scenario: they’ll think it’s not a good idea and you move on to another assignment.
Best-case scenario: they’re stoked about the idea and your relationship grows even more!
Then, later, you can talk about the logistics of being in a relationship with that person even if you take a different assignment.
Always remember not to force anything with a new person. While a 13-week assignment can seem like a deadline to decide whether someone is worth a relationship or not, don’t look at your time together with an endgame in mind. It’s important to let the chips fall where they may and not push someone to make things “official” if they’re not ready (or if you’re not ready, for that matter). Just take things slow, spend time together while you have it and be as honest as possible about your feelings and expectations.
Married and Making it Work
Choosing to Travel as a Duo or Separately
The first question you and your partner will have to ask yourselves when one of you takes on a job as a travel nurse is whether you’ll travel alone or together. Both options have their pros and cons, so it’s really about what will work best for your partnership.
For example, if your partner has a thriving career they love in your home city, it wouldn’t make sense for him or her to uproot their life to go on assignment with you. However, if your partner works from home or is a stay-at-home parent, traveling with you could be a fun new adventure. It’s all dependent on your individual circumstances, so talk with your partner about his or her preferences.
Getting Too Attached
Traveling with the one you love can truly strengthen your bond as you see the country together. However, you may find yourselves falling into a cycle where you only spend quality time with one another instead of venturing out and meeting new people. Even though they’re the one you love most, you should try to spend time separately, pursuing your interests and new friendships. The last thing you want is to spend so much time depending on your spouse to be your respite from work that you forget to go out and live your own life.
This also works the other way around. Encourage your spouse to go out, do new things and meet new people if they travel with you. You don’t want to end up resenting them for taking all your free time for themselves, so pushing them to pursue their own interests and meet people outside yourself is a great way to make sure you’re not spending too much time together. Even the greatest couples need time apart to thrive.
Traveling with Kids
While being apart from support systems is an issue for almost every travel healthcare professional, it can be extra hard for married couples with children. Spend extra time reaching out to family and friends from home to keep your support systems strong. If possible, schedule travel assignments over the summer if you have older children and take them with you for what’s basically a paid family vacation!
No matter your relationship status, a career as a traveling healthcare professional is rewarding both emotionally and financially. While it can be difficult to be dating in a new city or pulling your partner around the country with you, the benefits—in our opinion—far outweigh the road bumps.