Travel Nursing Myths & Facts

Setting the Record Straight

 

While the travel nursing profession has flourished over the last 20 years, there are still many misconceptions about working as a travel nurse. Let’s set the record straight and address some of the most common misperceptions about travel nursing, revealing the facts behind the myths.

Myth or Fact?

Travel Nursing Is a Less Stable Career Choice

This seems to be one of the more prevalent travel nursing myths, and one that isn’t supported by fact. “The fact of the matter is that hospitals are having shortages,” says Lindsay Francis, a seasoned Onward travel nursing recruiter. “The baby-boomers are getting older and at the end of the day, these hospitals have shortages and they can’t fill them all with perm staff.

 

Onward recruiter Suzanne Johnson offers a great example of travel nursing career stability, telling the story of an RN who “found a great niche at a hospital in Oklahoma. Every couple months, he goes back and takes a three-month contract and they absolutely adore him. They welcome him back with open arms every single time. It now gives him the flexibility to go work in Oklahoma, make quite a bit of money, be away from his family for a little bit, and he takes summers off every single year to hang-out with his kids when they’re off from school.”

Myth or Fact?

Travel Nursing Jobs Are Found Only in Big Cities

“Certainly, where the population is more heavy and condensed, we certainly see more opportunity and more needs,” Lindsay says. “However, we get contracts in Montana, Kansas, Idaho, Wyoming — some areas where you wouldn’t even think there would be as great of a need,” reflecting a demand for travel nurses “not only the big metropolitan cities but also on the outskirts in smaller community hospitals as well.”

 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics supports this travel nursing fact with its location quotient ranking for RN jobs: Leading the list of states with “a higher share of employment than average” are the largely rural states of South Dakota and West Virginia.

Myth or Fact?

Travel Nursing Is a Great Resume Builder

Fact! Travel nursing “increases your marketability,” as an RN, says Suzanne. “Different levels of facilities and different levels of patient care really do increase your chances of getting another job anywhere, because now you’re showing your marketability in a small market where you might be the only nurse on a 12-hour shift in an ER.

 

Lindsay points out that travel nursing is now so established, that most nurse managers and healthcare hiring agents are “now well aware that there are a lot of nurses who choose traveling as part of their career paths. So they shouldn’t be surprised to see a resume or to see an application from a travel nurse that has several different hospitals on it.

Myth or Fact?

Travel Nurses Aren’t Treated as Well as Permanent Staff

Though every employment situation is unique, the Onward experts jump at the chance to debunk the myth that travel nurses, in general, receive something less than the respect accorded to full-time RNs.

 

“It is true there are a lot of facilities that are very traveler-friendly,” says Lindsay. Also, travel nurses enable permanent staff members to have time off for the holidays and enjoy that time with their families — another reason for travelers to expect a warm welcome.

 

But, since every floor of every hospital is different, Lindsay advises asking the right questions during the phone interview process. “Find out a little bit more about the floor and exactly what it’s like,” she says. “But in most cases, I will say on an 80-20 scale — 80 being positive — most facilities are welcoming those travelers coming on assignment.”

Myth or Fact?

Travel Nursing Is for Young Nurses

Lindsay takes the lead in debunking this common travel nursing myth, telling the story of a retired nurse in her late 60s who’s worked as a travel nurse with Onward for almost a decade. “She takes about two or three travel contracts a year so she’s probably off about three months total out of the year,” says Lindsay, who tells how this RN and her husband travel up and down the coast in the summertime.

 

"They go up to New England or they travel to the Dakotas. And in the wintertime, they come down to Florida and they spend the wintertime there. Every year, they take December off so they can enjoy it with their grandkids and their family and be back home and they have a great experience and a great time.

 

So it really does give them the opportunity and the flexibility to continue working but continue working at their own rate. If they want to work six months out of the year, they’re able to do that. If they want to work one assignment out of the year, they’re able to do that.”

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