Pros and Cons of Being a Travel Nurse: Expert Insight for New Nurses

Travel nurse You’re ready for a new career and a new adventure in your life. You’ve heard some about the potential benefits of the healthcare field, and with a steady need for nurses, being a nurse looks like it could be a promising career.

One intriguing prospect for you could be taking up work as a travel nurse. If you’re interested in a position with some potential for adventure and the opportunity to see new places, this job could be for you.

Before you jump into this career path, you’re probably wondering a little more about some of the pros and cons of travel nursing. We talked with a travel nurse to see what being a travel nurse is really like. Keep reading for the inside scoop on this career path.

What is being a travel nurse like?

Travel nurses are constantly moving due to the temporary nature of their work contracts, according to Yasmine Seidu, a travel nurse and founder of Nursepective. Typically, travel nursing positions last just a few months before these nurses have an opportunity to switch jobs and learn the ropes of a new facility.

“There are a lot of great things about being a travel nurse as well,” says Seidu, “You get to see different parts of the country (or world), experience new cultures and learn new things every day. It can be tough at times, but it’s also immensely rewarding.”

What should new nurses know about travel nursing?

Obviously, there are a lot of moving parts to being a travel nurse. When starting a travel nursing role, there are a few insider tidbits that can make your life easier.

Seidu recommends doing a lot of research before you start travel nursing. Beyond articles like this one, digging into the travel nursing agency you want to work for, investigating the area you’ll be working in and fully understanding your contracts are all important.

Additionally, she mentions talking with an accountant to figure out how to do your taxes with all the moving involved. Things can get pretty complex if you’re working in several different states over the course of a year, and the last thing you want in a new job is tax trouble.

Travel nursing pros and cons

Now that you know a little more about travel nursing, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of these roles.

Pro: Travel

Let’s start with the obvious—you have a good reason to go somewhere new. Travel nurses get the opportunity to see the state, country or even the world. Meeting new people, experiencing new places and finding out what different places have to offer are all perks of travel nursing.

Being paid to move where there’s always something new to do or discover is an undeniably intriguing perk, particularly for nurses who have yet to really put their roots down and want to explore new locales.

Con: Frequent moves

The downside of this travel is that travel nurses are always moving and having to adapt to a new location.

“Traveling can be both physically and emotionally draining due to the demands of the job and constant relocation,” Seidu says.

While some agencies may provide housing directly, most will typically provide a housing stipend instead. This means that the nurse is responsible for finding a place to live, which isn’t always easy or affordable, depending on the location. These moving benefits are not guaranteed to be included with a contract role either, so some opportunities may be less viable.

Pro: Pay

The most calculable perk of being a travel nurse is that these roles usually come with higher pay.

“Travel nurses typically earn more money than nurses in traditional healthcare settings or staff positions,” Seidu says.

While it’s not guaranteed you’ll earn more per hour as a travel nurse, there’s a reason this is generally true. Travel nurses are often relied upon to help providers fill a critical short-term staffing need, and those organizations are often willing to pay a premium to ensure they can attract a viable candidate—particularly when factoring in the relative inconvenience of moving to take on this work.

Con: Potentially limited benefits

While this pay boost is a huge boon, the financial downside to travel nursing is that it doesn’t always offer benefits, or at least not the full range of benefits a full-time nurse may have. This means that you may need to set some of that extra pay aside to cover things like health insurance or retirement funds. However, Seidu does note that this is starting to change, with more agencies now offering at least partial benefits.

Pro: Opportunities to learn new things

Working in so many different settings, travel nurses are always learning something new and growing in their skills as a nurse.

Seidu says, “Working in a new location and with new people allows travel nurses to learn new things, new skills, new techniques, different EHRs (electronic health records) and policies, which helps them grow as professionals.”

All this can be great to add to your resume. If you ever decide to stop travel nursing, you’ll have plenty of skills to draw on for future employment opportunities.

Con: Your social life can take a hit

As you’re moving from place to place, finding new friends—and maintaining ties with existing friends—can be a challenge. Loneliness and keeping up with existing long-distance relationships are a few trials of always being around new people.

However, this can also be the perfect opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and shake up your social life.


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