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Things to Consider BEFORE Travel Nursing

*Original post released 2/2/2022

We touched on some of the points included in this article with last week’s discussion of the pros and cons related to travel nursing. Here, we’ll dive into depth a bit more about things to consider with each of those major points. Topics to be discussed will include benefits, future employment and career, deciding where to live, and moving from place to place.

Let’s kick things off by discussing employment benefits and how accepting a travel nursing contract may affect them. First and foremost, if you are leaving a full time staffed position at a facility where you are earning employment benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, 401K matching, etc. it is likely that those will no longer be made available to you upon your separation. You’ll want to consider the costs of third party employment benefits vs. utilizing your travel agency’s benefits. Some agencies or facilities may require a certain duration of employment, such as 60 or 90 days, before they are willing to cover employment benefits. Also important to consider is whether or not it actually makes sense to give up those employment benefits from your staffed position and possibly face higher costs, a necessary change in providers, etc. Will the travel agency offer you a comprehensive benefits package that meets your needs? Only you are the one who can make this decision, but these are definitely factors to consider.

In terms of future employment, you’ll want to weigh whether or not travel nursing is good for your career overall. For instance, if you’re a young nurse hoping to soon attend CRNA school, it may not be worth the change in situation if you cannot find a contract to accept you at a level I trauma center in the ICU setting. Those education programs are incredibly specific about what types of experience qualify toward admission, so keep this in mind. Can the travel job offer you and your family enough stability to make it without struggling? Until the contract begins, everything seems as though it’s up in the air. I didn’t like that risk. Plus, it can be stressful to have to look for and find a new contract, secure that contract via interview (if required), and move from one contract to another.

If you chose to leave a staffed nursing position for a travel contract, you’ll also want to consider how taking a contract will affect your hire-ability afterwards. In terms of this type of situation, I have the perfect example! When I found out we were expecting twins, we decided to travel so we could better prepare for their arrival financially. I discussed the situation with my boss, ensured him that I would be returning home after the contract finished, and yet my word as a faithful and trusted employee meant nothing. He made sure I knew that if I took a contract longer than 4 weeks, my position at their facility would be forfeited and I would not be hirable in his eyes again. Upon the conclusion of my 13 week contract, I reapplied for the same position at that previous facility and he made sure to keep his word in that I would not be hired for my old position. In light of this, I urge you to evaluate the support level from your travel agency and the condition of the facility you’ll be working at. Check the reviews, ask around, etc. but don’t leave your placement and career security up to chance. Your agency should be a resource, a form of backup in difficult situations, and your advocate.

If you’re still wanting to travel nurse, one of the most major considerations to make is where you will be living during the time of your contract. Can you find a place that’s furnished so you only take the bare minimum belongings with you? Will you be rooming with another traveler? What’s the cost of living compared to the compensation you’ll be earning? Can you bring your family and/or pets along with you? What’s the commute like to and from work from your living arrangement? Is the neighborhood of the facility and your temporary residence safe? Does the job itself have any additional safety concerns for you to take into consideration? What will your availability and access to basic necessities, such as pharmacy items, groceries, gas, healthcare, etc., be like? These are all incredibly valid concerns to have addressed BEFORE you take the plunge.

Lastly, we’ll talk about the nitty gritty concerns with moving. You need to consider how you’ll be getting to your destination? What will be your means of transportation during the contract? Will you need assistance? Can you obtain a higher degree as a result of the contract in question (if that’s the route you’re leaning towards taking)? Where will you store your belongings during and after the contract? Will your family and/or pets be able to tag along with you on this journey? Will you maintain two places of residence during your contract? If so, add that into your financial considerations.

As you can see, there are so many things to consider before jumping into a travel assignment. These are just the metaphorical tip to the iceberg of considerations to be making. Evaluate your situation, compare agencies and select the best fit for you, do the same with facilities offering contracts, and plan ahead of time. Planning in advance will help cut down on unforeseen expenses and situations that might arise. If you feel ready to take the plunge and take all of this on, then travel nursing may be an amazing fit for you and your situation! Only you know what’s best for you!

Until next time, happy studying.

Andra Alyse

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