Ask a Travel Nurse Question:
Hi David, I am very interested in Travel Nursing. My kids are out of the house, so I am ready to try something new and take my first assignment as a Traveler. That said, I am concerned about being able to get my next contract after this first one without a gap in between. Are breaks between contracts a problem when Travel Nursing? Or will I be able to work continuously?
Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:
Concern for where you will land after ending a travel contract is a concern for every Traveler out there. However, very few of us pay it that much attention at all.
Many Travelers start with a list of places they would like to see and spend a great deal of time working their way through that list. Add to this the fact that many assignments offer the opportunity to extend multiple times, or that you may wish to return to a past assignment location even before you hit every spot on your list, and then you start to see why it is seldom a concern.
The only cause for concern is if you are in a very specialized field. Tele, med-surg, ICU, ER, OB, and L&D nurses (along with a few more specialties) could travel as long as they wish, likely with hundreds of Travel nursing assignment options on any given day.
In 20 years as a Traveler, I have only ever been “shut out” of one location. That was a Montana assignment and the issue was that I was just too late in the spring (anyone who already secured a position earlier in the year was extending through the summer).
Again, unless you are in some obscure facet of nursing, there are likely going to be continued staffing needs throughout the U.S. whenever you are seeking a new location.
Do make sure you are on file with multiple agencies and that you either start inquiring about extending your assignment, or finding a new destination, about a month before your contract is set to end. Also use your recruiters as resources for licensure turn-around times in different states. If you know you want to go somewhere with a lengthy application process (New York or California come to mind), then consider getting your license even before seeking a contract in that state.
Do prepare yourself financially for small gaps in employment (as a precaution), but even if you had to return home for a short stint, you could likely find registry or per diem work. One of the great things about being a nurse is that I can never see a day in which a nurse would not be able to find something to put bread on the table.
I hope this helps.