By October 28, 2009 0 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: What is a snowbird state?


A reader recently asked, “What is a snowbird state?”

Everyone knows how birds migrate south for the winter; it is the same for some people. Most of the people with the ability to pick up and move somewhere else for a period of time are retirees. Those who are retired tend to be older and start to have an increased need for medical services. So when those individuals move into an area for a period of time, and do require a medical facility, it puts an added burden on those facilities to deal with the temporary increase in population. These states that see a large influx of people migrating south for the winter are called “snowbird” states.

The two most popular snowbird states are Florida and Arizona. However, a site called lists an additional five states as being popular with snowbirds (California, Nevada, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Texas). During the winter, these states may have more travel nursing assignment listings due to the increase in elderly population. I have worked in both Florida and Arizona and would say that Florida facilities start looking around this time of year and Arizona usually follows a month later (takes a bit more time to work off all of those 100 degree temps during the summer months).

In addition to an increase in travel nursing assignments, some facilities might offer “seasonal” work. It will vary from facility to facility, but I recently heard a South Florida hospital offered a nurse colleague an 18 month contract (work six months, off six months, work six months). This type of assignment works to insure that you have a job at least half of the year. However, not all facilities offer the same type of amenities you might be used to as a traveler (the company finding your housing for you, etc). While “seasonal” work is always an option, I prefer the benefits that are provided by going through a travel agency.

If you are looking for a warmer climate this winter, try looking into one of the aforementioned snowbird states. Be sure to check with your recruiter though because some states have longer licensing times than others (Florida is known for a slow licensing process for first time applicants).

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Posted in: Travel Nursing

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.

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