Pros and Cons of Travel Nursing

Pros and Cons of Travel Nursing


Travel nursing can be both difficult and rewarding. Working as a travel nurse takes a certain personality that adapts quickly and thrives amongst change. It requires a certain mind-set to truly make a career out of travel nursing. It can bring about feelings of excitement (working at a great hospital) or total depression (at a hospital that is not travel nurse friendly). Wherever you find yourself, travel nursing is never boring.

If you are considering taking the leap to become a traveler, keep reading as I examine the pros and cons associated with the transition.

1.Pro: The major benefit of travel nursing is that the entire United States becomes your work possibility and play ground. You can seek work locations in areas that you would like to learn more about. If you only work three twelve hour shifts a week that leaves a lot of time open for exploration.

Con: If you are traveling alone, it can leave you feeling isolated. Travelers have to be able to put themselves out there and be willing to make new friends. One of the biggest reasons new travelers have a hard time getting that first assignment under their belt is because companies have had “first time travelers” quit because of being homesick.

2.Pro: You can make more money as a traveler opposed to a staff nurse. This scenario happens to be partially true. If you take the stipend and opt out of the company provided housing, the pay goes up.

Con: If you take the tax free stipend you will owe taxes, be responsible for finding housing in a city that you know nothing about, renting your own furniture, and assuming a lease. If for some reason the travel contract gets cancelled by the hospital, you still owe for housing. I would never recommend that a nurse become a traveler based on wanting to make more money.

Traveling has many variables that can make or break the bank. As a traveler you have to be prepared for anything and everything. Always have an emergency fund available.

3.Pro: As a travel nurse your environment will be constantly changing. This means you will be forever adapting to new ways of doing your job and introduced to fresh ideas. If you change areas every thirteen weeks, you will never be bored for long. In addition, the politics of a regular environment are never a concern for the traveler.

Con: You will be changing every eight to thirteen weeks unless the hospital offers an extension. For some nurses, this idea alone causes panic and heart palpitations. If you enjoy routine, travel nursing may not be or you.

4.Pro: Some companies offer benefits such as insurance, retirement, and vacation time. I have found that the cost of these benefits vary from one company to the next. If you opt out, you can make more as an hourly wage. You make your contract whatever you want or need it to be.

Con: One of the biggest draw backs of being a travel nurse happens to be the fact that you have no sick time. If you are on assignment and fall ill, you will end up owing your travel company. They charge you for missing work. You are working as a contractor and that means you have to fulfill your obligation.

5.Pro: The absolute best part…you are in control. If you finish your contract and want to take time off, you can. You can negotiate just about anything in the contract. Once you become established as a traveler and gain some references, you can virtually pick and choose your next job.

As with anything in life, there are ups and downs in nursing. If you are working as a contractor, you could be waiting on an assignment for a couple of weeks. If you aren’t working, that can make a significant impact on the bank account. Being a traveler can be a blessing or a curse. It requires a great deal of responsibility and self discipline.

Jeff April 4, 2012 at 7:38 am
Great list! I would also add the aspect of building your resume. It can help build your skills and the environments you have worked in, but on the con side it could make some question why you have not decided to stay in one position very long when you decide to go perm again and can obviously limit any immediate upward mobility in your career while you are a traveler.


Jenny April 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm
Thanks Jeff for adding some intuitive information to the list. Anyone considering a travel career would definitely want to consider long term goals and determine whether travel nursing would be a good fit.

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