With every change in career plans , it ’ s helpful to identify an exit strategy . At what point will travel nursing no longer be worth it for you ? Evaluating this now gives you a reference for when things become tough . You can always change this criterion after you ’ ve gained more experience .
Beyond the Fundamental Criteria
Be Honest About Your Clinical Skills It is imperative that new nurses develop a foundation of strong clinical skills including assessment , intervention , communication , and documentation . Being in an environment where everyone knows how new and inexperienced you are can feel limiting , but the benefit is that people who know you can look out for you when things get hectic . You cannot expect that level of support while traveling . Further , it is hard to appreciate how much support you have , until it ’ s gone .
As nurses grow from novice to expert , their need for structure decreases ( Benner , 2001 ). Recognizing your need for structure versus an ability to adapt will be key in gauging your readiness to travel . Projecting false confidence about your abilities is very different from being able to respond appropriately in any given situation . We ’ re not suggesting that as a novice nurse you should be able to handle every situation , but you do need to maintain a positive mindset while knowing your limits and when to ask for help .
Think Through Your Soft Skills Soft skills include interpersonal skills , such as flexibility and adaptability . You ’ ll have an easier time as a travel nurse if you ’ re a team player and someone who helps colleagues when you have the time . If you ’ re still struggling with prioritizing care , time management , or charting efficiently , you may have a difficult time fostering a healthy and collaborative work environment .
Adding value and adapting to the work environments you ’ re assigned to hinges on a willingness and ability to verbalize what you need . Assertive and professional communication skills are needed by all nurses , but they become even more important for the travel nurse who has to quickly build rapport with nursing staff , physicians , and allied health colleagues .
Some nurses might view traveling as a way to escape their problems , but that ’ s not advised . Unaddressed issues as a core staff member will follow you into each travel nursing assignment . Transparent communication with superiors about any issues you may be facing is important in learning to problem solve and interact with others as a valued staff member .
We ’ re not saying the issues need to be resolved before you transition . In fact , lack of resolution after following the chain of command is a good reason to leave . However , if you don ’ t learn to have crucial conversations early in your career you may have a hard time maintaining your purpose and finding joy in the journey .
Leveraging the Benefits of Travel Nursing
Financial Opportunities After honing your clinical nursing skills and doing your diligence to communicate with leadership about your goals , it is hard to ignore the money . One would be hard pressed to justify staying in a permanent staff job paying $ 1200 a week while teammates are travel nurses getting paid $ 2,000 to $ 5,000 per week for the same work .
Facilities that offer exorbitant travel nurse contracts do so because they haven ’ t been able to attract and retain permanent staff members . We aren ’ t placing blame . We ’ re framing the environment that you may be stepping into . If you ’ re terrified or exhausted by inadequate patient ratios , people dying , or being floated too much , you can expect to experience more of that in travel nursing .
High paying contracts , such as $ 4,000 to $ 10,000 per week , often require working five to six days per week . It ’ s true , we can do anything for 13 weeks , but working more than 60 hours a week as a nurse , especially in the current healthcare system , significantly decreases quality of care and can compromise patient safety ( CDC , 2020 ). Studies show that money does have an impact on life-satisfaction and feelings of control , but too much emphasis on this one area can detract from other priorities that foster well-being and avoid burnout ( Berger , 2021 ; Kahneman , & Deaton , 2010 ). So proceed , but proceed with caution .
Who Moved My Cheese ? The allure of money and the exciting appeal of traveling echoes some of the fundamental lessons shared in the book Who Moved My Cheese ? by Spencer Johnson , MD ( 2003 ). Dr . Johnson talks about the inevitability of change , how communities respond to it , and why it ’ s important to be adaptable and proactive .
A common mistake humans make is thinking the present will be part of the future . It won ’ t . If you ’ re reading this now as a new graduate or nursing student , you can bet the travel nurse landscape will have changed by the time you ’ re ready to enter the market . Don ’ t stake your entire career and