The growth in popularity of travel nursing since the COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the reality of working in healthcare systems across the United States. Unsafe working conditions, underpaid nurses, and mandatory overtime appears to be the new normal for nurse’s post-pandemic. Although the pandemic increased the pre-existing nurse burnout, travel nursing has been the light at the end of the tunnel that many nurses have run to.
Travel nursing has provided boundless perks that make the decision to travel seem easy. The freedom of working where you want to work, the well-deserved increase in salary, and the flexibility of taking time off when you want makes the decision to travel seem like a no-brainer. Although the pros of travel nursing are evident, considering the cons are important to acknowledge before becoming a travel nurse.
What are the Pros of Travel Nursing?
Have you dreamed of hiking in the fall and exploring the beautiful scenery in Colorado? Do you want to take the winter months off to spend the holidays at home with your family? Maybe you have always wanted to spend the summer on the beach in California. As a travel nurse, you can do all these things and more. Travel nursing gives nurses the freedom to choose what state, what time of year, and what shifts they want to work. The reward of traveling provides an adventurous lifestyle without long-term commitment.
The increase in pay is the most important incentive for many nurses. Working as a travel nurse provides a substantial increase in hourly rate with a stipend for housing and food, allowing nurses the financial freedom to work anywhere across America. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses made an average of $37.31 per hour in 2021. Travel nurses during 2021 often made triple the amount as staff nurses, sometimes earning up $150 per hour.
Travel nursing jobs are not going anywhere anytime soon. There is projected to be over 175,000 Registered Nurse job openings each year until 2029, according to the AACN. The need for travel nurses to temporarily fill staffing gaps is only expected to increase as nurses continue to retire or leave the bedside. The increase in the nursing shortage has created job security for travel nurses for an indefinite amount of time.
What are the Cons of Travel Nursing?
Travel nursing has been life changing for many, but it is important to understand that the grass is not always greener when you leave your staff job. Seasoned travelers understand that the unknown of a new facility and city, poor working conditions, the cost of living, and loneliness are cons that can occur on a travel nurse’s journey.
Are you comfortable living in a new city or state while working temporarily at a facility you may know nothing about? Before making the decision to start travel nursing, understanding the reality of working in a completely unfamiliar environment is important to be comfortable with. Doing your own research on the facility and the safety of the area you will be living in are important things to consider.
Working conditions will vary with each assignment that you take, and they might not always be great. Many healthcare facilities will want to keep their staff nurses happy and give travel nurses the assignments that the staff nurses do not want. Being a travel nurse often times puts you first in line for poor working conditions such as unsafe ratios and being the first to float. Not every facility will be like this but evaluating your expectations and doing research can help assist with the decision!
Housing and Cost of Living
The availability of affordable temporary housing and cost of living varies across the U.S. and is an important consideration for travel nurses. Before you take your first travel assignment, inquire about the cost and availability of living with your agency before you accept your contract. Ask yourself if you can you afford to duplicate your expenses and meet your financial needs and goals to avoid added stress.
Are you comfortable with leaving your home, friends, and family for an extended period? If your spouse is unable to come with you or you have a challenging time meeting new people, travel nursing can be lonely without a familiar face. Avoid feeling lonely on assignment by finding another travel nurse to go on assignment with you on your adventure!
Need help getting started as a travel nurse?
Medical Edge Recruitment is the premier travel nursing recruitment agency, specializing in providing top talent to clients in the healthcare industry. We connect clinical and allied providers to their ideal opportunities, focusing on building long-lasting relationships through honesty and transparency. In travel nursing, bigger does not always mean better. While we have an extensive network of job opportunities, our experienced team is dedicated to making your personalized provider experience our priority. There are a lot of moving parts in getting set up for a new assignment, but we take care of all the details along the way. Adventure awaits, let Medical Edge Recruitment show you where to go next!