Top Challenges in Travel Nursing · The Gypsy Nurse

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By Ben Hartwig

January 20, 2020

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Top Challenges in Travel Nursing: How to Control the Situation

Travel nursing is an excellent way to hone your clinical skills and advance your career while getting paid to see the country.

Taking the leap from staff nurse to gypsy nurse is difficult, but once you’ve taken the first step, nothing can stop you! The chance to see and experience the entire country while doing what you love is one heck of a reward. However, if this is your first assignment, know that the road you’re on has its own set of challenges and perils. The key to overcoming any issue is to understand what it is firsthand and take control of the situation as it arises.

Here are some of the challenges in travel nursing both on and off the hospital floor.

Challenges in Travel Nursing


You’re Going to Miss Home

As the name implies, you’ll be traveling a lot as a travel nurse. Every working assignment is in a different location, and you’ll be away from home all the time. It can be a wee bit lonely in the beginning, but you’ll overcome it soon enough when you start working. You’ll be seeing a lot of new faces and will get to experience many different cultures when traveling. These two reasons alone will take your mind off home, so make the most of it and explore your new surroundings!

Being a travel nurse is also a chance to form lasting friendships with the people you meet along the way. Having a friend or two in a different city or state sounds like a wonderful trade-off for being far from home. If you’re having a hard time meeting people, try your colleagues and neighbors.

Choosing Where to Live

Since you won’t be living in any one location for long, finding an ideal place to call home can be a challenge. There are plenty of things to consider, such as how far are you willing to travel to work and how much transportation costs will be. Most agencies provide housing for travel nurses that rotate in and out of an area. However, you can always take the housing stipend so you can have more control over where to stay.

You can overcome the housing situation by avoiding Craigslist scams that sound too good to be true. Join travel nursing housing forums and ask around. If you go for a co-living space, make advanced background checks on the people you’ll be sharing a space with. Do the same to a landlord if you find a short-term rental. Try HomeAway or Airbnb if you can’t find anything. If your finances can handle it, extended hotel stays are a great option.

Your First Few Assignments

In time, you’ll learn everything about being a travel nurse, and you’ll have the credentials to choose where to go and what to do. If you’re starting, however, things won’t always go your way, and the environment can be very competitive. Remember, you’re there to help a short-staffed hospital. You need to keep an open mind on unpredictable schedules and different work assignments.

Expect More Work

Travel nurses are often expected to handle a heavier workload because of their higher pay. More work and extended hours will lead to burnout, so you need to avoid places with a low nurse to patient ratio. Gather as much information you can about a potential assignment before you commit.

Floating

Floating isn’t fun, and since you’re the new travel nurse on the block, you’re the most likely candidate to get “floated” to another unit. Before you freak out, look at floating as an opportunity that can benefit your career. Floating opens you up to different experiences and can teach you new skills that can make you a better nurse. If you were a part of a crew that had daily drama issues, floating is an excellent chance to get away from all that.

Working with New People

As a travel nurse, you’ll be working with different sets of colleagues for each new assignment. There will be a lot of personalities, attitudes, and customs at play, so you must learn how to adapt to your new surroundings quickly. Learning how your new co-workers do things, and the culture of the workplace can help your integration run a lot smoother.

In some cases, however, you should expect a little jealousy from other staff nurses. Issues about higher pay and more desirable shifts are the usual sources of workplace jealousy aimed at travel nurses. Since you’re a traveling nurse, your salary will be a little higher, and you’re not subject to seniority when it comes to shifting assignments.

In a Nutshell

There are plenty of perks to being a travel nurse, but the job has its fair share of challenges as well. What can make or break your career is how you deal with the issues that come your way.

We hope these tips help with the challenges in travel nursing you may come across in your travel nurse adventures.

Our travel nurse guide is a great resource for new travel nurses and those who have been traveling.

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