When Should You Take Your First Travel Nurse Contract?
In recent years, travel nursing has gained immense popularity, as it has provided healthcare professionals with exciting opportunities to combine their passion for nursing with the desire to explore new locations.
Today, we will aim to guide aspiring travel nurses on when to take their first travel nurse contract. Our goal is to help you learn further about what travel nursing is, understand the reasons for its popularity, and know the factors you should take into consideration prior to pursuing your first assignment.
This way, you can effectively decide the appropriate time to take your first travel nurse contract.
What is Travel Nursing?
Travel nursing refers to a unique nursing career that involves short-term assignments in various healthcare facilities across different geographic locations. Often these assignments range from 8 weeks to 12 weeks in duration, with some opportunities lasting longer.
The assignments travel professionals sign up for consist of temporary contracts, which are often used to support short-staffed facilities, those experiencing peak seasons, or simply to address specific healthcare demands.
Regardless of the duration or purpose of the travel contract, engaging in such an adventure can allow nurses, like yourself, to gain valuable experience while embracing the euphoria of traveling.
What are the Benefits of Travel Nursing?
After learning about the basics of travel nursing, let’s dive into what has made travel nursing the new wave for many professionals.
In general, there are many factors that contribute to the rising surge in staff nurses seeking opportunities outside their home hospitals. But, three key characteristics that have motivated these individuals are the flexible work schedule, high earning potential, exposure to new healthcare settings, and ability to visit new places.
Flexible Work Schedule
With respect to having a flexible work schedule, flexibility as a travel nurse operates a bit differently.
Often, contracts are structured in a way where you will likely be working four shifts per week instead of the standard three. However, despite adding one more day per week to your work schedule you will have the freedom to choose to have one to a few months off if you can bear the short-term increase in workload.
Many nurses report that having this flexibility allows them to prioritize personal commitments, spend quality time with loved ones, or pursue personal interests, all while building a rewarding nursing career.
High Earning Potential
Next, a thoroughly enjoyed benefit of travel nursing is the immense earning potential. Depending on how often you choose to engage in new assignments, travel nurses can easily make upwards of $150k to $200k.
The compensation packages are much more favorable than the standard permanent nurse position. They usually include things like competitive travel pay rates, bonuses for working more than three shifts per week, a housing and travel stipend, in addition to a plethora of other benefits.
All of these financial incentives work harmoniously together to provide an attractive option for eager nurses looking to explore a boost in income and monetary stability.
Exposure to Diverse Healthcare Settings
When you choose to travel, you will be able to see a number of different healthcare facilities. Through this opportunity, you will learn new policies, develop new skills, and network with others from similar backgrounds.
Each of these experiences enables you to take your professional development to another level. It teaches you how to adapt to different hospital systems, work with diverse patient populations, and learn from experienced healthcare professionals, fostering personal and career growth that is unmatched.
Opportunity to Explore New Locations
The last exciting aspect of signing your first travel contract is the ability to explore new locations. By accepting travel assignments in different cities or even across other states or countries, you can immerse yourself in diverse cultures, embrace new experiences, and expand your horizons when it comes to trying new activities and eating new food.
Having the opportunity to explore new locations not only satisfies the desire for adventure but also allows you to curate lasting memories while positively impacting the lives of patients in need of your empathic care.
When is the Right Time to Pursue a Contract?
Choosing the right time to pursue your first travel nurse contract is crucial for a successful and fulfilling journey. As we wrap up the substantial benefits that you could harness from traveling as a nurse, next we will take a look at the key factors to consider when determining whether you are ready to sign up for your first travel nurse contract.
Clinical Skills and Years of Experience
The first factor to consider is your current skill set and years of experience. Being able to assess your competence and confidence in your nursing abilities with integrity is an essential aspect of determining whether you are prepared enough for the travel world.
Ideally, you should take a step back and review your proficiency in various nursing procedures, technologies, and patient care practices. Reflect on your previous experiences and determine your confidence in handling diverse clinical scenarios.
Obviously, you will not be able to have hands-on experience in every type of clinical scenario. So, perhaps it is best to ask yourself whether you can provide the basics of nursing care in addition to providing insight with your expertise where necessary.
Do not be surprised if you see travel nursing agencies require a minimum level of experience for candidates. This criterion is a quality measure to ensure that nurses have a solid foundation of knowledge and skills before transitioning into the dynamic world of travel nursing.
It is best to the experience requirements set forth by each contract and determine whether your resume complies with the required criteria. It is recommended to have at least 2-years of bedside experience prior to traveling. However, 1-year of experience can suffice in lower acuity units.
The second factor that you will need to consider is the stability of your personal life.
It will be necessary to evaluate your pre-existing personal commitments and responsibilities. These include but are not limited to attending to familial needs, supporting a significant other, and taking care of your kids, among other scenarios.
These obligations can all have a substantial impact on your ability to effectively take a travel nurse contract without consequence.
For example, If you have a family, it will be critical for you to consider their needs and circumstances. You can discuss the potential challenges and benefits of this career path with your spouse and even invite your kids into the discussion if they are of age. This way, you can evaluate how they can be supported and involved during your travel assignments.
Regardless, if you choose to pursue this path, it is best to ensure that you have created a plan and made proper arrangements to address these commitments.
The last thing to consider when you are thinking about when you should take your first contract is whether there are any significant life changes or emotional challenges in the recent past and future.
Emotional readiness is important to assess because travel nursing often involves being away from familiar environments, friends, and family for extended periods. And, there may be times when you often feel isolated and burnt out with no one to turn to nearby.
Reflecting upon your personal resilience and adaptability to handle the potential emotional ups and downs of this lifestyle will be necessary. As evaluating your ability to cope with homesickness, loneliness, and the stress of adapting to new environments can be a difficult measure to overcome.
So, Are You Ready for Your Next Contract?
In conclusion, determining the right time to take your first travel nurse contract requires careful consideration of several key factors.
By assessing your experience and clinical skills you will be able to effectively conclude whether or not you possess the necessary competence and confidence to thrive in different healthcare settings. Additionally, meeting the minimum experience level and possessing a diverse clinical skill set can significantly enhance your prospects as a travel nurse.
Therefore, if you feel stable in terms of experience, personal life, and emotional preparedness, then you may be ready to embark on your first travel assignment.
If you are interested in learning more about travel nurse contracts, visit Novo Connections and learn more about the opportunities that await you today.
About: Novo Connections is a leading healthcare staffing agency that brings people together in search of rewarding healthcare career opportunities. We provide class-leading staffing services to healthcare facilities around the U.S.