Ask a Travel Nurse: With the way the economy is right now, should I still consider travel nursing?

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Recently, someone had emailed me a question asking, “With the way the economy is right now, should I still consider travel nursing?” As with most questions, the answer is seldom the same for any two people.

Being a current traveler, I can tell you without doubt, there are still plenty of travel positions out there. However, I am also fortunate enough to have some additional training as a critical care nurse, which brings me to the first question you should ask yourself, “Am I in a specialty in need?”

To answer this, all you need to do is look at the current postings or talk to a recruiter from a travel nursing company. Typically, positions that require specialized training are more in demand. This usually holds true for critical care positions (for both adults and children). Plus, if you have additional training, you might be able to take a position outside your specialty if needed.

For example, no one in critical care likes when they have to float to a telemetry or medical-surgical floor. But, it is always assumed that a critical care nurse should be able to do so with ease (possibly not always the case). While tele and med-surg nurses would not be considered for a travel position in an intensive care unit, there are certainly tele and med-surg units that would consider hiring a critical care nurse for a travel position in their unit. The greater number of environments in which you are able to function, the more options you will have in travel positions.

Another question you should ask yourself is, “What expectations do I have in taking a travel assignment?” While there are companies out there that have boasted their travelers have made over $100,000 a year, this is not the norm. While you can still make a very decent living as a travel nurse, you might not find the rates as high, or as many positions with completion bonuses, as you did a year ago.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in travel nursing, there are a few things you can do to help with your success. I always advise joining at least a few travel companies so you can access more postings (I am currently on file with at least a half dozen companies). Talk to the recruiters and see what hospitals and areas of the country are still posting and where they have been placing most of their travelers. No one seems to be arguing the fact that the need for nurses will continue to rise and while the current climate has forced a few changes in the industry, I don’t think I’ll ever live to see a time when I cannot find a position as a travel nurse.

As always, feel free to click on the “Ask a Travel Nurse” banner to submit your questions regarding travel nursing.

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About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies. I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today. I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

3 Comments on "Ask a Travel Nurse: With the way the economy is right now, should I still consider travel nursing?"

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  1. Becky says:

    I recently read a similar blog post entitled, “Worrying About Job Security?” on the Cirrus Medical Blog (http://cirrusmedicalblog.com/2009/05/27/worrying-about-job-security/). It is a great resource with smart tips for travel nurses.

  2. lewis lefas says:

    just starting out travelling and not interested in sightseeing but really want to work non-stop. can i do lots of ot in calif or even a 2nd job while on assignment? need to make tons of moni in 1 year to pay off debts. Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. David says:

    Hey Lewis. Your best bet would either be taking a travel assignment that has guaranteed overtime (some positions are 48 or 60 hr work weeks), or join up with an agency that also offers per diem opportunities. That way, you could work your regualr 36 hr contract, but then pick up shifts at other area hospitals on your days off.

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