Throughout my 8 years of travel nursing, I have had many people ask questions and show interest in the travel nurse life. Of course, like most travel nurses’ media pages, our life looks like one big vacation! And don’t forget the big money! $$$
But hear me out for a long-winded moment…
After being on the road for these 8 years, I have a few things to discuss before you quit your permanent job and take the challenging leap to start the travel nurse life!
1. Loneliness is inevitable!
You have to be very comfortable with being alone, A LOT! Being away from family and friends for extended periods can take a toll on your mental health. A 3 hour time change and 6-hour plane travel doesn’t make it easy for quick trips home. I remember my first contract when I ate alone at a sit-down restaurant and went to the movie theater solo for the first time in my life.
2. New EVERYTHING!
Living arrangements, bed, grocery store, roads, gas station, church, doctors, dentist, hairstylist, weather, time change, etc. Nothing is familiar except the few things you brought along with you on your journey. I’ve lived years without Blue Plate mayonnaise, I’ve had to have bad dental work fixed by my home dentist, and I’ve even sported a mullet after a bad haircut!
3. You have to hit the floor running after only 1-3 shifts of orientation.
This includes learning new computer systems, remembering new log-ins, door codes, doctors’ preferences and personalities, different order sets, policies and procedures, and co-workers’ names and their position on the floor. You realize just how lost you are when you can’t find the simple but important things like an emesis bag quick enough for your patient.
4. Your home hospital’s way is not the only CORRECT way.
Realizing the way your home hospital does things is not the ONLY correct way to do it. I don’t care if you have been a nurse for 20 years! When in Rome, you do as the Romans and move along after 13 weeks. After a few weeks of being on the floor and familiar with the staff, you can make suggestions for changes. But they do not want a stranger coming into their home trying to change things up if it’s working for them and the patients are safe.
5. Keeping up with licenses and certifications are your responsibility.
It’s difficult to keep certifications up to date when a lot of hospitals won’t allow you to take their classes that are offered to their permanent staff. I’ve driven 3 hours one way to take a course that was needed to be able to complete my file for my next contract. Also, not all companies offer reimbursements for the new state nursing license you need or the recertification that’s required to keep you compliant while on contract.
6. Nightmare Patients
More than likely you will get the nightmare of a patient the permanent staff doesn’t want to take care of. And you will also be the first to float to a different unit before staff.
You will get minimal to zero schedule requests for specific days off or block scheduling. The purpose of your contract is to help staffing and fill in their short shifts.
8. Emergency fund money
Emergency fund money is a must! Your contract could get canceled. Minimal to no sick time or PTO is provided by travel companies. It cost a lot to move across the country when you’re driving 2,500 miles, hotels, shipping a car, flying, and paying rent deposits. While on assignment, you are also duplicating expenses at your permanent home to qualify for tax-free stipends. And who knew, but even buying a new set or condiments each time you move to a new place can get expensive!
But as I write this, I am currently recovering from a long day sunbathing at the beach in gorgeous San Diego! (One of those cities that some people only dream of visiting). And I wouldn’t trade this life I’ve had the last 8 years for anything!
I have met some of my best friends in life. I have worked with some of the most amazing nurses in top-rated hospitals who have helped me grow my skills and knowledge. I’ve lived in cities and places only others get to vacation or dream of living. And I’ve been able to take 1-2 month long vacations between contracts to check off those bucket list countries and experiences that I would have never had the opportunity with a permanent job!
Is it perfect for every nurse?
Definitely not! You have to be realistic with your expectations, set goals, be flexible, be prepared, and focus on things you do have control over. You will learn so much about yourself as an individual and your personal growth can be limitless. Travel nursing is not a bad life, so get out there a take the chance on what could be the start to the best adventures of your life!
We hope you found these 8 tips to consider before quitting your permanent job helpful. Do you have any tips for our readers before they quite their permanent job? Comment them below!