Pros and Cons to Travel Nursing
Combining your passion for nursing with your natural love of exploring new places is why you’re considering becoming a travel nurse. It's an area of nursing that's in demand more than ever. Of course with all the excitement, comes some things to think about. No career is perfect and there are benefits and challenges in every area of nursing. Here, we'll break down some pros and cons to travel nursing to help you decide if it's right for you.
Pro: Every assignment is a new adventure
If you love exploring new places and crave new scenery, travel nursing could be a great fit for you. It gives you the opportunity to see new places and try out new cities to see if it's a place you can see yourself living. Traveling can give you the chance to try new restaurants, find hidden gems such as independent bookstores or thrift shops, and meet new people.
Pro: Skipping the politics
Regular employees can be more prone to dealing with office politics and management issues that can happen in a healthcare facility. Additionally, seeing the same people every day can be a prime place for work drama—which you don't need. As a travel nurse, you don't—and really don't have the opportunity—to get involved with the politics or drama. Many assignments are three months, so if you find these concerns in your unit, you'll know that it's short-lived for you.
Pro: Flexibility between assignments
Being at a site for a short amount of time can make it difficult to get time off for vacations. Facilities tend to prioritize their regular employees by seniority. As a travel nurse, it may be more difficult to get time off work. This is understandable, as your role is to be there for staffing needs. However, when your assignment is complete, you have the option to take as much time off between assignments as you desire, giving you plenty of opportunity for vacation time.
Pro: Honing your skill set
As a travel nurse, bouncing from specialty to specialty doesn't really happen. Facilities want nurses who are knowledgeable in certain areas. So while you may not experience multiple areas of nursing, know that each assignment is going to be unique. This gives you the opportunity to expand your skills and learn new ways of doing things. You’ll have the chance to learn different procedures, patient care processes, and charting systems. With your variety of experience, you'll be in demand and can get up and running quickly the more assignments you get.
Con: You may not get your first pick—in the beginning
One of the appeals of travel nursing is that you can work anywhere you want. Travel nursing is about freedom, after all. But when you're just starting out, you might not get that desirable location you planned on. In the beginning, when you're new to traveling, you might need to be flexible and settle on some alternative places until you gain some experience.
Con: Dealing with the loneliness
It can be hard to leave behind your life when moving to a new assignment. You might have to leave your pets, your friends and relatives, and possibly a partner or children. Thanks to technology, you should be able to use video chatting, but it's not the same. Being away for long periods of time can be hard, especially if you're first starting out. Make sure you're getting out and socializing with your coworkers outside of your work hours and maintain a strong support system. Sometimes it can help to do some volunteering or join a gym. Anything to help you get out and meet new people.
Con: Being flexible with your schedule
Just as it's more difficult to get vacation time as a travel nurse, you also may have a harder time getting those ideal hours. You may have to take a fair share of holidays, weekends, and overnight shifts. You might have to float to other units depending on staffing needs. Like a vacation, seniority might rule in your new facility and you'll have to accept this and know what to expect. On the positive side, these types of shifts usually come well-compensated, so you can enjoy that extra money in your account.
Con: The whole traveling thing
Traveling is the reason you are considering this area of nursing. But with all the excitement and variety, it can still be difficult to make traveling part of your career. There's the stress of unfamiliar locations and trying to adapt to a new living environment. There's getting used to the weather in a new part of the country and maybe even the cultural changes from what you're used to. You’ll have to adjust to a new department and coworkers quickly so you can get up and running. Remember to be gentle with yourself and give it some time.