Motivations for Travel Nursing Careers
By Megan M. Krischke, contributor
March 8, 2013 - What motivates nurses to begin travel nursing careers? The answers can vary as much as the nurses themselves who opt for the lifestyle of a traveling nurse.
Once RNs start working as a traveling nurse, they discover new reasons to keep traveling: great pay and benefits, fulfilling job assignments, career development, exciting locations, lifestyle options and more.
Sandra Rice, RN, a nurse of 17 years, was working in a men’s penitentiary during the week and as a central float nurse in a hospital on weekend nights to make ends meet; then one day her hospital position was eliminated. She had considered travel nursing in the past, but now the time seemed right.
“When I thought about traveling, I wondered, ‘Can I make enough money? What will I do with my 70-pound dog? Where would I live? What would it be like to work in different hospitals?’ It was just a total unknown. But I promised myself I would do something different,” commented Rice.
She looked into travel nursing and soon found the answers to her questions: not only was the money good, but she could take her dog along and help choose where she wanted to go. She could even choose between company-provided housing and her own accommodations.
Instead of living in housing provided by NurseChoice, the agency she travels with, Rice takes the housing stipend in cash. She uses her truck to haul her motorcycle and to tow her camper from assignment to assignment.
“In each new assignment, I’ve been welcomed by all the staff and they are glad to have me there. We have fun and do our jobs and take care of our patients. And life is good,” she remarked.
Sandra Rice, RN, plans to work as a traveling nurse for at least five more years.
For her first assignment, she traveled from her home in Virginia to live with her daughter in Wyoming. Rice has worked as a traveler for two years now and plans to continue at least until she is 55 years old or until she is no longer able to work.
Her advice to RNs considering travel nursing careers: “Take the leap of faith and do it!”
“I love it,” she said. “I can go home to see family whenever I want. This summer I am taking time off for my family reunion, but scheduling my next assignment near there so that my travel will be covered by the agency.”
“One of the fascinating things about travel nursing has been seeing the way culture and lifestyle impact patient health and life span,” remarked Rice. “I love nursing! I think I would do this for free. It is an honor to care for all my patients.”
“I’ve noticed that the motivation to start a travel nursing career is different for different age groups,” reflected Marina Chowaiki, senior recruiter for American Mobile Healthcare. “Younger nurses want to see how different hospitals are run and to build their résumés. A lot of older nurses are traveling with retired partners and are going where there is good golfing and other fun things for their spouses to do. And there are some nurses who are in it for the money. I think of one nurse in particular who was living in a part of the country where the economy was really depressed--he started traveling to pay off debt.”
Lesley Etheridge, RN, BSN, a traveling pediatric ICU nurse with American Mobile Healthcare, hesitated to start traveling because she was fearful to go alone.
“Some of my friends and I would talk about traveling, but finally I decided that whether or not they would come with me, I was going to do it. I didn’t want to regret not trying it,” she stated.
Etheridge was intrigued to start working as a traveling nurse because she wanted to explore different parts of the country where she was interested in living, to gain experience and to make more money.
“When you travel, you get to see that there are different ways to do things and still have good outcomes. There isn’t just one way to treat a disease,” she explained. “You get to work with lots of different people and personalities, and with physicians and nurses who have trained at different facilities. Another benefit is that you don’t have to get involved in all the politics--you go and do your job and that is it.”
“Travel nursing is a really fun opportunity to see the country and to get paid. The economy is in a great place and it is a good time to travel. It is becoming a demand market, so travel nurses have more power than they did in the past,” encouraged Chowaiki.
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