"Ugh, I’d have to move every few months.” “The staff nurses will hate me!” “I’m too old for this.” Guess what? Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Let’s clarify some misconceptions you may have had about travel nursing, and perhaps give you reason to evaluate whether travel nursing is a career for you.
First of all, when it comes to nurses who have heard of travel nursing, there are three kinds:
- Those who have heard of it and have given it a try.
- Those who have heard of it and think it’s not for them.
- Those who have heard of it and wish they could do it.
This article is for the third group. Maybe even the second group…once you’ve read this article. Let’s take a closer look at nine common myths about travel nursing.
Myth #1: Traveling nurses have to move to a new city every 13 weeks.
Truth: Travel nursing assignments do normally last 13 weeks, but they can last longer, and a lot of times travel nurses can choose to extend their current assignment. In fact, this is often beneficial to all three parties involved: the travel nurse, the travel nursing company and the hospital. Sometimes travel nurses can choose to stay in the same city or area for multiple assignments at different hospitals, if there are enough opportunities.
Myth #2: Being a travel nurse means I have to be away from my friends and family.
Truth: There are a lot of travel nurses who take assignments that are close to their homes and have shifts conducive to getting back home for three- to four-day stretches. For example, an assignment that’s within an hour-and-a-half drive from home and offers three consecutive 12-hour shifts allows a traveler the benefits of a travel assignment with the opportunity to enjoy the comfort of her home and family.
That said, some hospitals and facilities may have radius rules that don’t allow local nurses to apply for travel nursing assignments, but there are still many chances for travel nurses to work close to their homes.
Myth #3: Travel nursing is only for young people/I’m too old to start travel nursing.
Truth: Many travel nurses are somewhere in their late 40s to late 50s and have plenty of nursing experience, which actually makes them perfect for travel nursing. More experienced nurses have the confidence that’s needed to step in and help out right away.
Additionally, many experienced nurses find that traveling in the later years of their career gives them several surprising benefits, such as being able to share their assignments with their family by taking a retired spouse along with them, or taking their adult children on vacation. Another benefit is the chance to embark on an exciting journey after the kids are out of the house or tour the country catching up with relatives and friends who live in other parts of the U.S.
Travel nursing is perfect for any nurse who wants to see the country and explore the possibilities of new career experiences, no matter what stage of her nursing career she’s in or how old she is.
Myth #4: Only single people with no families can be travel nurses.
Truth: There are a lot of travel nurses who bring their spouses or significant others with them on travel nursing assignments, especially when the spouse is retired or has a job that allows some mobility, too.
A travel nursing job can also be a great way to take your family on an inexpensive vacation when you’re getting paid to travel and can take your family with you. And if you’re a travel nurse who is able to bring your children with you, you’ll be able to give them a great chance to see new places and enjoy new experiences.
Myth #5: Travel nurses can’t bring their pets with them on an assignment.
Truth: Taking Fido along on a travel nursing job is not only possible, but is a really good idea. Not only can a pet be a great travel buddy and make your travel nursing housing feel like home, but it can also help keep you safe in a new city. Keep in mind that at most travel nursing companies you’ll have to upgrade your housing package to be able to take a pet on assignment with you. So make sure to let your recruiter know early in the process that you’re planning to take a pet with you so the company can find you adequate housing.
Myth #6: Travel nursing doesn’t provide a reliable income for me or my family.
Truth: In reality, travel nursing is a great way to provide a solid and steady income for you and your family. Even with the economy down from when travel nursing was at its peak, travel nursing jobs are still paying well and there are still plenty of them available. With a willingness to take the assignments where they are (if the one you want is not available), careful planning of your assignments ahead of time and a sensible approach to your finances, you can easily turn a travel nursing job into a travel nursing career.
Travel nurses also have the chance to choose where they want to work, so they can select assignments that have a lower cost of living and allow their money to buy more.
And depending on the company, travel nurses can also receive benefits such as free housing, travel reimbursement, per diem allowances and bonuses (e.g., completion, referral, loyalty) that supplement their income.
Myth #7: The permanent nursing staff doesn’t like travel nurses.
Truth: Travel nurses are normally welcomed to the hospital by the perm staff. If a traveler is at a hospital, it’s usually to help the hospital deal with the nursing shortage and provide relief for the permanent staff. This means the staff members are generally excited to see a travel nurse arrive and happy for the help she will provide, since it gives them a break from working extra and/or long shifts.
Myth #8: Having too many travel nurse assignments on my résumé may look bad.
Truth: Actually, the broad range of experiences that travel nurses have can bolster their résumés. Since travel nurses are inherently exposed to and have to learn different nursing philosophies and methods, they’re able to step right in and help out without a lot of extended orientation. Plus, being a travel nurse shows several traits that nurse managers look for, like being able to easily settle into new environments, flexibility and the ability to learn quickly.
Myth #9: I have to go where the travel nursing companies tell me to go.
Truth: This is probably one of the most confusing travel nursing myths out there. Recruiters always work to put travel nurses in assignments that the nurses want. They take the time to learn what the nurses desire in an assignment and for their careers, and try to find a match that meets their goals.
However, at smaller companies, recruiters may not have as many contracts as the larger companies and may suggest assignments that are similar to the one a nurse really wants. If that’s the case, the nurse may have to look at a few different companies at a time to find the assignment she really wants, but travel nurses are never forced to work somewhere they don’t want to. And if those companies can’t place a nurse in the location she wants, there are plenty of larger travel nursing companies out there that have contracts all over the country, so no travel nurse should have trouble finding a job where she wants to work.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.