Why Should I Become a Travel Nurse?

First off, what exactly is a travel nurse? Wikipedia’s definition is spot on:

“Travel nursing is a nursing assignment concept that developed in response to the nursing shortage. This industry supplies nurses who travel to work in temporary nursing positions, mostly in hospitals.”

Wikipedia, Travel Nursinghttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travel_nursing

We know there is a great need for nurses everywhere. Between heavy patient loads, maternity leaves, training and illness, nurses often need to be temporarily supported with travel nurses. Some hospitals even provide the ability to try out the job on a temporary travel basis with the option to commit for a permanent placement afterward. Travel nursing simply provides benefits that a standard job can’t always match, including higher pay, flexible contracts, travel opportunities or enhanced benefits.

In October 2015 we had Element5 Digital—a digital marketing firm in Detroit—survey and interview dozens of travel nurses to compile accurate data on why nurses choose or prefer travel nursing and how they ranked the reasons if they gave more than one. This is the most up-to-date and accurate compilation of data of this kind anywhere.

Top Reasons for Becoming a Travel Nurse

  • Money is better
  • Traveling the country
  • Avoiding office drama and politics
  • Meeting new people
  • Learning about new hospital policies and workflows

Interestingly, this is not the order the nurses ranked them in. Element5 hypothesized that money would be the leading factor—and indeed, many whitepapers about the travel nursing industry would have you believe that it is—however, it turned out to be the third most popular reason.

graph showing what is most important to travel nurses

What Travel Nurses Say About the Industry

Here are some of the verbatims from the study:

“I like the different parts of the country that I get to see. It’s nice just to pack up and work my schedule so that we have at least a day or two to see the city we’re at. It’s like vacations all year.”

“I really like learning about the differences in how hospitals are run. Yes, the money is good, but diversity and experience is better than money.”

“I like meeting new people, but I don’t want to learn who is in trouble and who the manager is, etc. I just want to get in, do my work and get out. I don’t want to stay long enough to get involved.”

“I like it because you stay out of the drama and politics. You avoid the gossip and work. There are a lot of things that you see that you might not like, but since it’s a short assignment, it rolls off my back.”

“I make good money. That’s not my main reason, but it doesn’t hurt.”

Reason 1: Travel

Travel was hands down the winner. Nurses got to see the country and visit relatives and friends in the cities where they were assigned. One nurse said it was like working and having a vacation at the same time.

Reason 2: Avoiding Drama

Avoiding office politics and drama was not only one of the most popular reasons, but it’s also the one the nurses in the study spent the most time discussing. Most of the nurses mentioned being quite upset seeing other nurses playing on Facebook while patients were waiting for assistance, or gossiping about staff and patients—in front of other patients.

Reason 3: Better Pay

The money is better. No question. Nurses said on travel assignments they averaged 15–20% more than they normally make and occasion, far more than that. One nurse told Element5 she earned triple what she normally earns on some of the assignments. Travel nurses also received stipends for housing, transportation and if they requested it, pet care.

Reason 4: Working at New Hospitals

Nurses reported that seeing new cities was fun, but more importantly, good for their career experience. By visiting and working at several hospitals, they saw other processes, gained additional skill sets and learned more than they could in their full-time position.

Reason 5: Meeting New People

Meeting new people was the least most popular reason at 10%. The respondents who mentioned this were split over this. About 40% liked meeting new staff at the other hospitals, 45% liked meeting new people on travel (non-medical staff). The remaining 15% did not specify.

All of these reasons are proof enough that travel nursing is definitely something that all nurses should consider whether for new experiences, additional pay or increasing their value as a nurse with learned additional skills.

FULL DISCLOSURE: BlueForce is a staffing agency dedicated to the travel nursing industry. If you are interested in learning more about travel nursing or are ready to take on travel assignments now, please contact us.