I have worked as a travel nurse on and off for the last 10 years and have been very fortunate to have worked in some of the most welcoming units across the country and overseas.
There is a nursing shortage worldwide and according to a 2015 Georgetown University report, the American nursing workforce will be in need of as many as 193,000 additional nurses by 2020.
This only solidifies the ongoing need for and value of travel nurses.
The following are a few reasons why every nurse should work as a traveler at least once in their career:
Traveling teaches even the most unwilling to embrace change. While there is certainly something to be said for working your entire career in one unit, traveling challenges one’s way of doing things and thinking.
Every new unit has a very specific way of doing things and you are expected to quickly relearn and adapt.
Travel nurses have about a day to learn the bare bones of their new unit.
Friend, Not Foe
A travel nurse is a friend, not foe. Travel nurses are hired to help the profession, reinforce it.
They are hired to help the staffing crisis in the unit. Travelers often travel alone, leaving the security of family and friends behind, and have no support system in their new city.
They do not necessarily make more money. Some are newly divorced or even widowed and use traveling as a chance to get away and heal.
Increased Skill & Knowledge
Every single place I have worked has taught me something new. There are a million different ways to draw blood or tape an IV. In my travels, I have picked up tricks of the trade from some of the most talented nurses.
My first travel assignment was on the west coast of Florida and from there I moved on to San Francisco. I learned to parallel park on the steepest hills in the U.S., found the most inspiring yoga classes, and drove along the Pacific Coast Highway for the first time.
Traveling to California confirmed a love and desire to see new sights, eat new foods, and learn a new way of living.
It helped me overcome the fear of traveling alone and gave me a much needed sense of independence. For any nurse with a hesitant desire to travel, my advice is dive in head first.
You will find the water is not so cold.
Traveling allows the opportunity to live mortgage free. If you are not tied to a mortgage yet, it is a great opportunity to live without a mortgage payment. It is also a great way to save for that down payment if your dream is to own. Dreaming of Paris? Tuscany?
One assignment can allow you the opportunity to save and go for it. Traveling is also a good opportunity to downsize credit card or school debt.
Working as a traveler tests one’s confidence over and over. It is an invaluable lesson in life. It takes a brave individual to venture into the unknown.
You may not consider yourself brave initially, but when you look back in retrospect you will realize it takes serious confidence to embrace the unknown.
This confidence will reflect in the rest of your life.
You will find friends for life that you would have never met otherwise.
They were the docs, nurses, techs, and, therapists that welcomed me with open arms-inviting me to dinners, lunches, parties. They were both fellow travelers and permanent staff.
The friends I have made along the way remain dear to me to this day.
The best advice for anyone considering traveling for the first time is try not to overthink it, just do it.
You are never too old, too young, too inexperienced, or too tied down to travel. Even if you are a new grad dreaming of traveling, make it your goal early on. Don’t hesitate. The world is your oyster.