One of the coolest aspects of travel nursing that I have yet to get sick of is the possibility for new adventures every single day. Growing up, I did not have a lot of options of things to do, especially outdoorsy things. As an adult, I can safely say that getting outdoors is one of my absolute favorite things to do.
As nurses, we are blessed that most of us only have to work 36 hours a week to be considered “full-time employees” (I rolled my eyes a bit as I typed that because I know how exhausting “just” 36 hours can be!), but I felt lucky even as a staff nurse knowing I could get away with having 4 whole days off (or 3 if you are a night shifter) which was more than I could say about friends of mine who worked Monday-Friday, 8-5. We really do have it made as far as scheduling goes, but when I became a travel nurse, those 3-4 days off didn’t really feel like much after all. You truly don’t realize how much of a place is begging to be explored until you get there.
At our second travel nurse assignment last summer, we were asked how we felt about working 6 shifts in a row. Before I could even listen to the rest of the question, my mind was already thinking, “NOPE, NO WAY.” Six shifts in a row? There’s absolutely no way I could do that. Before I could say no, though, the director added, “You both would have 8 days off every other week with this schedule”. Now things were starting to sound interesting.
When Oscar worked in administration prior to traveling, he worked a very similar schedule; Seven shifts working, seven days off. Back then, I didn’t understand how he was able to pull that off, but he would always say, “It’s really not that bad; you get used to it.” By nature, Oscar is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met, so I secretly never believed him. Fast forward to Assignment #2, and he said the same thing – “You honestly just get into this rhythm pretty early on in the stretch, and it doesn’t ever feel that bad; I think we should give this schedule a try.” So that is exactly what we did.
I was hooked
After the first month of working on this schedule, I was hooked. As travel nurses, now it felt like we had endless time to explore our new city AND our new state easily. Because we worked that schedule for almost 5 months, we were able to travel all over Washington State – we got to camp under the green canopies of Olympic National Park, kayak Diablo Lake in the North Cascades National Park, visit the charming Bavarian town of Leavenworth THREE times, take a ferry to the San Juan Islands, explore Mt. Rainier countless times, hike dozens of miles worth of trails, visit local family as often as we could, and so much more. So much of our time would have felt rushed, and some of these trips downright impossible had we worked a traditional 3 on, 4 off.
We wouldn’t choose any other way.
Now on our 4th assignment, we have continued to work the same schedule and still wouldn’t choose to work any other way. I never thought I would be the type of person who could do so, but let me tell you, it is so worth it, and Oscar was right – it really is not bad. Part of the reason we decided to travel nurse was for the ability to explore and TRAVEL. Having essentially a week off every other week gives you so much freedom and flexibility to take some much-needed days off. It gives you the opportunity to recuperate without missing shifts and to enjoy your assignment without feeling like you are always working. You could even take those 8 days off and travel to a new country or spend time at home with loved ones. The possibilities truly are endless.
Preparation is key if you choose to work this way, though. Oscar and I each have 6 pairs of scrubs clean and ready to go before our long stretches. We also make it a habit of meal prepping so we don’t run out of food in the middle of our shifts either, and we try to have the RV cleaned and organized for the week as well. This schedule certainly is not for everyone, but I really encourage you all to give it a try if the opportunity arises. You don’t know what you’re missing until you do!
Wishing you happy adventures,
We hope you found this article on how to travel every other week as a travel nurse helpful. Have you made your schedule this way as a travel nurse? How do you like it? Comment below.