Travel nursing is a great opportunity for nurses looking for a change of pace. It offers more pay, better learning opportunities and don’t forget the chance to travel to new places for free. However, there are a few reasons a nurse should not think about travel nursing. Here they are:
Taking a travel nursing position to get back into nursing
Every once in awhile we get a question from a nurse who is looking to start her nursing career back up again and wonders if travel nursing would be a good way to do it. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but 99.9% of the time the answer to this question would be no. Travel nurses are used by hospitals for specific reasons such as a spike in patient census or a shortage of nurses in their unit and with certain expectations, most importantly being their ability to step right in and help. Even for seasoned travel nurses there is still a learning curve going into a new hospital. There is little orientation, different systems to learn, where supplies are is different everywhere and each hospital has different protocols. Adding the need to refresh ones nursing skills into this mix, will not only not make for a very good travel nurse, but will also just make a stressful situation for the nurse, one that is likely to sour them on the travel nursing experience altogether.
So if travel nursing is your goal and you haven’t worked as a nurse in awhile first find a permanent position to get yourself back into it. And then after you have had at least a year, if not two, in your specialty in a hospital setting then look into finding a great travel nursing company to help you.
Taking a travel nursing position to transition to a new specialty
Another situation we see from time to time is a nurse who is looking to transition to a new specialty and thinks that a travel nursing assignment would be a good way to do that. Similar to the reasons given to nurses who are looking into travel nursing to get back into nursing, nurses that want to explore working in a new specialty should reconsider. There is little orientation typically for travel nurses and even less for training, they are expected to be pros and able to step right in and provide immediate relief to the stressed full time staff.
Of course there may be some opportunities to float to other units such as ICU to Stepdown or L&D to Post-Partum, but if a full transition to a new clinical specialty is on your nursing bucket list then that is something best done during a permanent position. As a side note though, any floating you may have done during a travel nursing job may help you in the interview process for the perm position in the specialty you want to learn.
Taking a travel nursing position because you don’t get along with your nurse manager or charge nurse
As a travel nurse you will constantly be dealing with different personalities so leaving a bad relationship for a travel nursing assignment may be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. On each assignment have no control over who your boss will be, sure you don’t have to take any assignment you don’t want to, but once you get to the assignment is the only way you are really going to know how you get along with your new bosses and coworkers. And true the assignments are only 13 weeks and most people can put up with anything for that short amount of time, but it is much better for you to learn people skills that will let you get along with a lot of different personalities and to be more thick skinned, than to try to get away from people you don’t care for.
Travel nurses, right or wrong, are treated differently at each hospital and there are times when a nurse is fighting a pre-conceived notion about the ability and attitude of travelers in general. So thinking that travel nursing is a way to avoid dealing with people you don’t like is not a good reason to start traveling.
Being a traveler is a great way to give your nursing career a re-boot, but make sure you are doing it for the right rationale, because doing it in the wrong situation or for the wrong reasons will only lead to you not enjoying the way you should.