Can Travel Nursing Be the Career for You?

For those who have a heart full of wanderlust, and a nursing degree, travel nursing can be the right career choice for you. Travel nursing exposes you to diverse cultures and different ways of providing patient care. Nurses choose from a wide range of care facilities, including inner city hospitals, rural medical clinics, vast medical compounds on literal campuses, and small facilities in remote areas of the country.

When you choose to add “travel nurse” to your resume, you broaden your experience in so many ways. As a career choice, whether long-term, for a few years, or sporadically, as the mood strikes, travel nursing offers flexibility, and allows you to examine opportunities in other areas of the country, without making a permanent commitment to relocate. For those who like to experience the adventure and excitement of traveling to new places, yet want to further their nursing career, travel nursing is a wonderful opportunity.

What is Travel Nursing?

A travel nurse is a licensed nurse, typically a BSN, or higher, who travels to different areas of the country, where he or she has been hired to work for a specific length of time. The typical term for a travel nurse is 13 weeks, but can be extended if the need is there. With the demand for qualified nurses being so high, certain areas of the country experience shortages. A traveling nurse will work to fill in as need be.

Traveling nurses can choose between a wide variety of available assignments and specialties. Having the freedom to work for a set amount of weeks, in a desirable location, for whatever reason, is appealing to many in the field of nursing. Work for a bit and then take some time to tour a specific area at your leisure, maybe a place you’ve always wanted to visit, and now you have the occasion.

Can Travel Nursing Advance Your Career?

Travel nursing can help advance your career in many ways, most of all the variety of experience you will have. Your ability to adapt your skill set under circumstances that may be unfamiliar serves to broaden those skills. Every assignment is going to be different in one way or another, and you’ll learn something from each clinic environment in which you work.
You may work in a large city for a term, then off to a rural hospital. The type of patient care you’re called upon to provide will vary vastly from one area of the country to another. You’ll learn brand new skills and hone skills you haven’t called upon since your early days of nursing school.

Through travel nursing you’ll be exposed to many different specialties. Maybe you’ll uncover a whole new interest in a specialty related to your travels, or be able to utilize your own specialty skills. Many urban area hospitals have a need for specialties such as trauma and emergency care, and smaller clinics in more remote areas of the country dearly welcome the skills of an ICU nurse, or someone more adept at critical care than those currently on staff.

You will most certainly hone your technical skills as a travel nurse. Every hospital, clinic and medical facility has specific ways of entering patient data, and charting, some more advanced than others. Travel nurses learn all manner of new and different technology, adding another valuable skill set to your growing resume.

Find Your Niche

As a travel nurse, you may find you want to stay at a certain location. That remote medical facility in northern Washington state, a big, bustling hospital in Chicago, or the quiet clinic in a desert town in sunny Arizona, may charm you into staying indefinitely. You’ve already proven yourself a worthy employee. Perhaps you can inquire about a more permanent position and settle down where your heart is called to stay.

Guard Against Burnout

The truth is, in the nursing field, burnout is a very real and toxic stressor. Short-staffing, overtime, endless duties, and feeling as though you’re providing inadequate patient care due to all the “administrivia” can turn many a good nurse sour. As a traveling nurse, your gig lasts 13-26 weeks on average. You feel as though you are making a lasting difference in many of the medical facilities you serve, and that is the perfect balm to soothe those feeling of burnout.
For all the romanticism of travel nursing, it can be difficult. Find a staffing agency large enough to have a broad range of opportunities and assignments from which to select, so that you can find a good fit, or 13 weeks can seem like an eternity. Go into your new assignment with an open mind. This may be entirely outside of your comfort zone, but ultimately prove to be life-changing for you and the patients you serve.


Photo credit: janeyhenning via / CC BY

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