We’re pleased to bring you a guest blog from travel nursing veteran and patient advocate, Holly Lewis. She busts common travel nursing myths in this article, and telling it like it is. Have you believed any of these travel nursing myths?
Myth #1: Travel nursing isn’t worth it.
You make very good money as a traveler if you can get every shift you’re expecting. Aside from your travel nursing salary, you have a chance to earn bonuses such as sign-up bonus, referral bonus and completion bonus. A change of scenery and perhaps an opportunity to sight-see a little in your down time is icing on the cake! While I was a travel nurse, I was finishing my BSN so the downtime for me was also an excellent opportunity to write research papers.
Myth #2: I’ll be floated to other units.
It’s true that you’ll be floated to another unit for low census before regular staff will – you’re the traveler. However, it’s probably not as common as you might think. During my travel nursing job in California, I considered myself to be a traveling float nurse. Meaning, I never knew which hospital, or which unit I’d be working in that night until 5pm. That was fine with me as I was a skilled and competent floater. But when I chose to accept a 13-week travel nursing assignment exclusively for one hospital/one unit, I was actually only floated out of the unit three times during the length of my contract. Overall, that’s a fairly low percentage.
Don’t let your fear of floating prevent you from taking a travel assignment. And when it happens, think of the new people you’ll meet and the differences you’ll get to experience, which will serve to expand your skillset and your resume. Many nurses, especially new nurses, typically avoid med-surg like the plague. But working med-surg floors helped to make me a capable and strong floater. And a patient on that unit you may be floated to this shift needs you as his or her nurse.
Myth #3: I won’t be accepted as a traveler.
Ever heard the saying: nurses eat their young? Of course you have! Because it’s true. Travelers are no different from new permanent staff. There are always going to be nurses who are petty and step on the backs of their coworkers and dishonor our profession. Just like there will always be nurses who invest in the growth of new nurses and new employees, lifting them up and embracing them as part of the team.
I won’t sugarcoat it. As a traveler, your odds are 50/50 on that scenario. But aren’t they the same odds you’d experience back home taking a permanent nursing job? You bet they are. In two years of travel nursing, it was mixed for me, but I’m grateful I experienced more of those who embraced me and wanted me there than those who didn’t.
Travel nursing can be very fulfilling. It was an excellent experience for me and one I’ll always remember and cherish. Travel nursing is no different than many other jobs/experiences – it is what you make it – despite any obstacles you may encounter. After my 13-week assignment exclusively to one unit in California (which concluded my two years of traveling and I was headed back home to Tennessee), the staff surprised me with a wonderful going-away party! Was the job perfect? No. But no assignment is. Was it worth it? Absolutely!
Myth #4: I can’t take my pets or my spouse with me.
Yes, you can! I took my husband and our two dogs with me to California. We stayed in a pet-friendly, long-term, hotel suite with a living room and separate bedroom. Many travelers take advantage of apartment options. You certainly don’t have to leave your fur-babies behind. Bring them with you for a great adventure!
Myth #5: If I’m called off for low census, I have no other options for income.
Ok, it’s true that if you’re called off for low census, you’ve lost your income. That’s unfortunate. And it happens. And when it happens for two or three consecutive shifts, it can cause anxiety, because after all – you’re there to make money!
I’ve had that experience. What did I do about it? I banked some money for my own rental car, and negotiated my own rate at the hotel I was staying during that assignment. Paying my own hotel/car put me in control of my own time while I was in California; it gave me options. I then spent my days off orienting with another company to be my fallback position if my primary agency called me off for low census again.
Perhaps you’ll never be called off enough to make it an issue for you, but if you are, you do have options. Travelers have more control than they think. Being proactive in this situation can increase your chances for work and ease your anxiety in low census situations.
So whether you’re in your twenties and just starting out, or you’re an older traveler – like I was in my forties – travel nursing is an excellent way to experience our profession. Travel nurses are capable at overcoming obstacles for a positive result. They are excellent trouble shooters. And I think that’s because we like what we do!