Is Travel Nursing for Me?


Posted to Travel Nursing

Is Travel Nursing Right For Me?

To become a travel nurse you will need a minimum of one year clinical experience in a hospital. You should have mastered basic skills and be confident in your abilities. You need to be able to learn quickly and to work independently. You also need to be able to “play well with others,” even when they don’t want to play with you.

The more experience you have, the better prepared you will be for travel nursing. Your skills and experience will open more opportunities. Travel nurses are contracted to fill vacancies and to help lessen the shortage of nurses throughout the country. Even though they are filling a need and helping to lighten the load for the regular staff, they may not always meet with a warm welcome.

Hospitals pay premium salaries to travel nurses and fees to travel nurse agencies to find adequate staff to meet their staffing ratios and keep beds and units open. It is no secret to the regular nursing staff that these nurses make more money and perhaps have more perks than they do while they work side by side in the same units.

The travel nurse therefore has to live up to expectations of being perfect and being worthy of the higher pay, and perhaps better benefits and perks. Personal and professional jealousies are not uncommon. The travel nurses make the big bucks, get to travel and see the country, and don’t have to shoulder the responsibilities or deal with the politics.

Just the same as any new or float nurse would probably be given the worst or most challenging assignments, you can be assured travel nurses are usually “abused” in the same way. Expect to be dumped on. Be prepared to live up to this challenge.

In exchange, you will have the opportunity to see the country and quite possibly many places in the world. You will have the opportunity to live with the locals and learn the culture. You will have the opportunity to see the sights and enjoy the events and venues.

Southern California and Florida are big draws with all the amusement parks (Disneyland/Disney World, Universal Studios and water parks galore) as well as warm weather and sunshine, beaches, sports teams and fabulous cuisine. Colorado and Utah offer beautiful country and the best ski opportunities that last all winter long and then some.

Travel nursing also provides professional opportunities you may not have in your hometown. Perhaps you have always wanted to work in a large teaching hospital, or would love the experience of a state of the art trauma unit. Maybe you’d love the adrenaline rush of a large county hospital emergency room. On the other hand, maybe you’d love to get away from the big city and work in a quiet rural area for a change.

All nursing is a lifelong learning experience. Travel nursing can offer you many opportunities to expand your horizons and to learn new things. Every four to thirteen weeks you could have a new assignment in a new city.

Travel nursing is not for everyone. You have to have an adventurous spirit. Someone who needs to put down roots, and to have routines probably won’t even consider travel nursing, much less ever like it. You will need to have a thick skin to deal with the staff who resent you. Leadership qualities and a great sense of humor can’t hurt either.

By Kathy Quan RN BSN

Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book, and author/owner of

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