The Truth About Travel Nursing
Thinking about jumping into travel nursing but not sure what to expect? Trust me, I’ve been in your shoes and I know how intimidating it can feel. But, after completing more than 20 travel nurse contracts myself— I’m here to share the most common myths about travel nursing compared to real-life experiences.
Truth: In some cases, travel nurses may be given the more difficult patient assignments, and in other cases— we’re actually given the easiest patients on the unit!! The truth is, it really depends on your skill set and the facility you’re working at. In my case, I gained about 3 years of experience at a level I trauma center before traveling so most of my contracts were pretty easy compared to my staff job.
Pro Tip: If you want to set yourself up for success, focus on gaining experience and building a strong skill set so that regardless of the patient's acuity— you’re confident that you can safely take care of them. Also, maintaining a positive outlook and embracing challenges as learning opportunities can transform even the "toughest" assignments into resume-boosting experiences. Always remember: every challenge is a chance to grow!
Truth: This is a misconception I've come across frequently, but let me set the record straight: experience is crucial in travel nursing. Think about it. As a travel nurse, you're often stepping into a hospital you’re unfamiliar with. And unlike a staff nurse who might have months of orientation— as a travel nurse, you're expected to hit the ground running. This means that after a few days of orientation, you’ll be given a full patient assignment and expected to keep up in a fast-paced environment.
Pro Tip: Before diving into travel nursing, try floating to different units or taking a PRN job in another facility. It’s a crash course in adaptability, and you'll thank yourself later. Remember, being a versatile nurse is a huge asset when traveling. The more varied experience you have, the more prepared you'll be.
Truth: Travel nursing is for any nurse, regardless of age or relationship status. The biggest perk? You get to decide when, where, and how you work. This flexibility fits any lifestyle, which is why many travelers (including myself) have families, pets, partners, and even friends who travel with them. And Age? More and more nurses are stepping into travel contracts after retirement so that they can seize the chance to explore, earn more money, and continue doing what they love.
Pro Tip: If family commitments have you second-guessing travel nursing, remember: Short-term assignments (6-8 weeks) may be an option and can provide the experience without taking you too far from home for extended periods.
Truth: While travel nursing might come with its set of expenses, the pay rate is often much more compared to that of a staff nurse. The total compensation isn’t just about the hourly wage; it also includes tax-exempt stipends such as Meals and Incidentals and Housing. When you break it all down, many travel nurses find themselves taking home more than they would in a traditional nursing position, even after factoring in those added costs. And last but not least— the amount of freedom and flexibility that comes with travel nursing is priceless which is why I decided to jump in myself!
Pro Tip: Consider the cost of living, taxes, and average rent in the area when reviewing contracts and comparing rates. This will give you a better understanding of how far your paycheck will stretch and how to budget effectively. Remember, a higher pay rate in an area with a high cost of living might not go as far as a moderate pay rate in a more affordable location. Doing your research beforehand can ensure you're making an educated decision before taking the leap.
Truth: As someone who's navigated through the world of travel nursing, I can attest that not all travel nursing agencies are created equal. As a matter of fact, the company you choose to work with can make or break your experience.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the years: Every agency has its unique culture, support system, benefits package, and way of operating. Some may prioritize offering the highest pay, while others might emphasize providing you with top-notch support throughout your assignment but lucky for you— you’ve stumbled into the right place: FlexCare has all of the above and more. They strike the perfect balance by providing competitive pay packages, reliable on-the-job support, and recruiters who genuinely prioritize transparency and connection.
Pro Tip: While considering an agency, look beyond just the numbers. The relationship you build with your recruiters and the support you receive on assignments can often be as valuable, if not more, than the paycheck itself. FlexCare understands this and makes it a priority to ensure every nurse feels valued and appreciated.
So, now that we've cleared up some myths, are you feeling ready? It's time for you to make your move! Taking that step can be a little scary, but from one nurse to another: after nearly a decade on the road, I can tell you travel nursing isn’t just a job—it’s a whole new way to experience life. Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat. How about you?