Many healthcare organizations that are understaffed, turn to travel nurses to help with the overwhelming amount of work that needs to be done.
Many registered nurses (RNs) are leaving the profession altogether. Some opt for early retirement due to burnout, and others choose to change career paths. The Covid-19 pandemic is definitely a contributing factor to this, and now, hospitals and clinics all over the country are losing nurses faster than they can hire new ones.
If there’s a gap in staffing, healthcare facilities often struggle to fill it due to the hiring pool being too small, or they can’t find a suitable replacement.
This is when travel nurses become useful. This article will be discussing all you need to know about travel nursing. It may be the career path for you!
How Does Travel Nursing Work?
Travel nurses perform the same duties as registered nurses in healthcare facilities. The only difference is that they are not permanently stationed in that particular location. Hiring travel nurses is a temporary solution for healthcare organizations, as it helps them with their workload while they look for permanent registered nurses to join their facilities.
Travel nurses will always work on a contractual basis. These contracts normally last around 3 or 4 months. Oftentimes, they will be extended for longer periods of time, depending on the staffing needs of the facility. As part of this contract, these nurses will often receive a salary, a weekly allowance for expenses, accommodation, and sometimes a signing bonus.
However, these benefits will depend on the area the nurse works. For example, a nurse working in New York may receive a very generous allowance and salary as the cost of living there is so high.
What to Expect as a Travel Nurse
The main difference between registered nurses and travel nurses is the travel element. The day-to-day responsibilities are pretty much identical. These include assessing patients and logging their symptoms, providing them with medication, monitoring their status, and collaborating with the other health physicians in the establishment.
They also go over the aftercare with patients and their families, communicate with loved ones about a patient’s status, and keep detailed records of patient’s status.
However, there are a few things to bear in mind if you’re considering this profession. Travel nurses jump into roles in all kinds of healthcare facilities that are in need. This means they are likely to be working in some high-stress, chaotic environments.
If a nurse accepts a temporary position in a severely understaffed facility, the staff there may not have the time to get them up to speed on specific details on patients and charting systems, which means that the travel nurse will need to learn this new information as they go.
This is something that aspiring nurses need to factor in. When a travel nurse’s contract ends, they will either extend it, which may lead to a full-time position at that location, or they will look for a new destination to work in.
Benefits of Travel Nursing
There are an array of benefits to this type of nursing. You are able to choose where you want to work. For example, if you’ve always dreamed of living in San Diego, you could find a 3-month contract at a healthcare facility there to see if you enjoy it.
From that point on, you can decide to stay there, or move on to somewhere else. This type of work also allows you to explore new places and meet all kinds of different people and experience working in different environments. This builds up your credibility as a nurse, and can really benefit your career in the long run.
You also get the added benefit of free housing wherever you are located. Therefore, you won’t need to worry about making any rent payments, and you can end up saving quite a bit of money (depending on where you are located).
If you require a certain visa or passport, if you choose to work internationally, being registered as a travel nurse will ensure that you are able to get this without any issues. You are also likely to be paid a higher wage than regular registered nurses.
Characteristics You Should Have as a Travel Nurse
The life of a travel nurse can be exciting, but it can also be taxing and stressful. Therefore, there are a few characteristics that a person should have in order to succeed and enjoy this career.
1. Fast Learner
All travel nurses will have experience in working in healthcare facilities, but as you will be moving to different ones frequently, and different facilities will have different standards of practice and technologies that you may not be familiar with.
Therefore, the ability to learn quickly must be a characteristic of yours, as you will not have the time that registered, permanent nurses have to learn these things.
2. Comfort With New Environments
Constantly working in different states and environments means that you need to be able to adapt easily to these constant changes. Each facility you work in will be different from the other, as will the staff you work with, so this is something to take into consideration.
Being the ‘new nurse’ isn’t easy in a hospital filled with new people who already know each other, and you’re also likely to be dealing with intense patient-care situations as the facilities you will be working in are likely to be understaffed. Therefore, resilience is key in order to be able to handle this kind of environment.
Becoming a travel nurse is an exciting opportunity for healthcare workers to see the world while providing a highly-needed service. If you are someone who would like to experience new places and meet new people, then travel nursing could be for you.
There are several benefits to this line of work, such as a higher salary, invaluable experience, and provided accommodation. We hope this article has provided you with a good amount of information about what it’s like to be a travel nurse!