First of all, I’m acknowledging that I’m writing this blog on the last day of the month, barely meeting my goal of once-a-month posting. Hey, a win is a win.
But this post technically isn’t about me and my goals, it’s about you.
Do any of these scenarios sound like you?
A nurse who has been working at a hospital or in a role for years and feels:
-A bit burned out
-Like you’re not making an impact anymore
-Not challenged enough
-Challenged too much
-Tired of your toxic work environment
-Not making the money you feel you’re worth
-Ready for a change in scenery
You’re seeing the sky-high rates nurses are making across the country. You’re working alongside travel nurses who are making double, triple what you are for doing the same job. You’ve done late-night scrolling and research on how to start travel nursing. Maybe you’ve even created a profile or an application or two to see what kind of jobs are out there.
I’m here to tell you it’s time to put your fears aside and DO IT!
Stop making excuses. I don’t care if you’re a single parent or if you’ve got an entire family with 4 kids with 2 dogs. I don’t care if you’ve been at the same hospital on the same unit for 10 years and feel like you’re deserting your teammates. I don’t care if you’re afraid of being in a new state, hundreds of miles away from everything you know. You are depriving yourself not only of thousands of dollars but of the experience of doing something that others never get to.
I took the leap into travel nursing in 2016. I had recovered from a recent move as well as an abusive relationship. I was in the midst of picking up the pieces of my life and figuring out how I wanted to start over. I didn’t want to go back to the crappy hospital I had left prior, and I was fortunate to land my “dream job” (this doesn’t exist, but that’s another story for another day) working PRN at a hospice house. By the way, this is one way of making your start in travel nursing feel less scary. Ask your current job if you can transition to a PRN role. That way, when and if you do come back, you still have a way to make money. I continued to keep my PRN job all through my travel experience.
Let me be completely honest in saying that travel nursing is one of the BEST (top 3) decisions I’ve ever made in my life.
I loved the hospitals I worked at. I made friends that I spent time with outside of work, and even still keep in contact with to this day, 4 years later. I got to explore cities and small towns I never would have otherwise. Travel nursing also took me to Florida, which ultimately led me to decide to move there a year later. (This would be my second best life decision, which led me to my first best life decision, marrying the man of my dreams whom I met in Florida). See what amazing things can transpire from opening yourself up to the world?!
I stopped traveling nursing after a year and a half after realizing I was burnt out on bedside care. If you’re worried about working in a new setting with new patients, don’t be. Nursing skills are the same no matter where you work. In fact, I started traveling as a basic med/surg nurse and my very first assignment had me in contact with things I’ve never even heard of before: breast flap reconstruction procedures, bariatric surgeries, and trauma nursing. You learn as you go and you ask for help when you don’t know something. By my final travel assignment I was no longer a med/surg nurse, but a PCU/stepdown nurse with more complex patients.
For the next few years, I worked remotely as a case manager. This job was fantastic, and I’ll always be grateful for this company and my team. I realized that case management is a fit for my personality, and I earned my CCM certification. But with COVID-19, I was feeling the urge to not only help but to take advantage of crisis rates that wouldn’t last forever.
I came across a Facebook post for a COVID vaccination/testing assignment back in my home state. I was limited to the roles I could do since my acute experience was no longer recent. The stars aligned for me. My job let me change my status to PRN and I was off in less than a week.
This doesn’t mean the decision was easy or that it wasn’t a sacrifice. I left my beautiful sunny state and fiancé in the midst of wedding planning for a chilly (but beautiful) mountain town in the middle of nowhere, all alone.
I’ve completed three weeks of my 14-week assignment and feel that I have again made the right decision. I am doing something that matters within a community that has struggled with fighting this virus. I get along well with my co-workers, I get to learn from a culture different from my own, and bask in the beauty and peace of mountain life. Sure, I miss my home and the fact that I could be sitting on a beach enjoying 80-degree weather at this very moment. But my motivation is strong. I am doing this to create a better future for my family. Now you need to identify your “why.”
Travel nursing allows for:
-Seeing new states, cities, and towns
-Paying off debt; student loans, cars, or your mortgage faster
-Saving for a trip of a lifetime: Italy? Africa? Bora Bora?
-Saving for your children’s college or your own retirement
-Meeting new people, which only makes you a better, more well-rounded, and tolerant human
-Appreciating your home and what you already have
-Opening your eyes to what you want your life to look like
And simply, just living life. Taking a risk, testing your limits, and learning more about yourself and the world you live in. There aren’t many professions that allow for this kind of spontaneity.
So what are you waiting for? I’m here to tell you there is no reason you can’t be a travel nurse. Please don’t let excuses or fear of the unknown prevent you from creating the future you dream of.
And if I can be of any help, reach out to me. I’m not claiming to be a “travel nursing expert,” just a huge advocate of nurses taking full advantage of what the profession has to offer them.