How does travel nursing work? A travel nurse works for an agency instead of a hospital/facility. The agency coordinates a job for me, the nurse, at the hospital/facility. The job requires 1-3 years of experience in that specialty area of nursing. I can't just work wherever I want. The agency has me sign a contract for a certain amount of time, usually a minimum of 8 weeks, up to 6 months or possibly more.
1. I can get a job almost anywhere! That's exciting and adventurous, right?!? I've chosen jobs in cities where I have friends (so far) and its worked out pretty great. As long as there is a job in that city or area that I'm qualified for, I can take my pick.
2. The agency finds and pays for housing if the job is out of my hometown. I choose to find my own housing so the agency gives me a housing stipend as well as meals and incidentals.
3. I can leave a job when the contract is over or stay if I like it and extend my contract or take a position at the hospital. There is a lot of freedom to do what I want and to move on when I'm ready.
1. For me, it has been a lonely, and at times isolating, experience. I left my home community in Boise. While I know it was the right timing, it doesn't lessen the feelings. Community doesn't really fall in my lap, especially when I only have 3-5 months to find it. I've been really blessed to find a great church in Portland, but I didn't find one in Seattle.
2. The unknowns of travel nursing seem to be infinite. My experience with the clinic in Seattle was impeccable, but when I came to Portland, it was a nightmare getting through HR. I just never know what I am going to get and if I've already signed a contract, then it's hard to get out of it. I have learned to be VERY flexible and adaptable with each step of the process.
3. Finding my own housing is tough, but totally worth the money I saved. In Seattle, I found a Christian community house (via online) for 4 months, but it was a rough situation so I moved into my coworker's friend's house for my last month. I didn't know them at all and they turned out to be amazing hosts. Here in Portland, I was so lucky to live with my friend Jenny from Boise and this has been one of my favorite roommate situations of all times! After those Seattle experiences, it has been amazing to live with someone I actually know!
4. While I do get health insurance through my agency, I do not get PTO. During a contract, I cannot take time off without incurring penalties. I found this out the hard way when I took 2 weeks off over the summer. My agency charged me around $20/hr that I was not working, times this by 72 hours of time off and...YIKES. The moral of that story is: read contract thoroughly and take vacation BETWEEN contracts.
I wouldn't trade my experiences with travel nursing for anything. I don't think it's a lifestyle I can maintain for too long, but it has taught me a lot about taking care of myself, what other hospitals are like out there, and how to discover a new city. (The financial opportunity has also helped me make huge progress toward paying off my student loans! Yay!) Not everyone gets this opportunity and I'm so grateful I'm in a position to be doing this.