According to a U.S. Staffing Industry Forecast, the travel nurse market grew 40% in 2021 and was expected to grow another 19% in 2022. Recent nursing shortages mean the demand for travel nurses is at an all-time high. However, travel nurses have been around for decades. They’ve helped fill staffing gaps when there are unexpected changes in demand or when there are other supplemental staffing needs.
For nurses interested in a change of scenery, travel nursing can be an ideal career path. Although some may find the unpredictability of each new assignment exciting, it can still be difficult to acclimate to a different city, hospital or other healthcare environment. Forming friendships and positive working relationships with co–workers can prove challenging as well. To be successful, travel nurses must find ways to adapt to change.
Many organizations that hire travelers require that these nurses have a BSN. If you are an RN interested in travel nursing, you may want look into an RN to BSN program, such as the one at The University of Texas at Arlington.
Travel Nursing Tips
Travel nursing can be an adventure, but making the transition with each new assignment can be a bit unnerving. Here are tips to adjust smoothly and find success at every facility you visit:
Ask questions. Communication is at the center of good nursing, and the ability to request the information you need in a new environment is essential to good outcomes. When you are the “new” nurse, you may be hesitant to ask questions for fear of sounding clueless or unqualified. Following that line of thought can be disastrous for a travel nurse, though. Management may forget to share pertinent information in their rush to bring in new nurses. Asking questions — coupled with reading through policies and procedures — can help you bridge any informational gaps.
Reach out. From day one, pay attention to the dynamics of the unit in which you are working. It will soon become evident who knows their way around and is willing to lend a hand to their co–workers. This is someone who can be a valuable resource during your time at the facility. As a travel nurse, you may have to be more proactive in developing friendships, so ask them to coffee or lunch, and continue to reach out to others as well.
Be a go-getter without pushing boundaries. Being shy or hesitant are not ideal qualities in nurses. Travel nurses have to be willing to step up — and step in — where they are needed. However, doing so right out of the box, especially in an overly aggressive manner, may not sit well with your co–workers. It can be a tough balance initially, but aim to be personable and friendly first and foremost. There will be plenty of time to demonstrate your abilities during the assignment.
Flexibility is your friend. Inevitably, once you travel to a few different locations, you may find that each facility has its own unique ways of doing things. Flexibility is the key to avoiding frustration. Successful travel nurses know that give and take are required. Learning to adjust to new policies and procedures — without complaint or a negative attitude — is the best path.
Prioritize self-care. When you are traveling, you may neglect practicing self-care. In doing so, you can hinder your ability to concentrate as well as diminish your physical and emotional strength. Make time to prepare healthy meals, exercise and visit with friends and family — even if it is only by phone. Consider mindful practices, like meditation to incorporate deeper relaxation into your day. Also, arrange a sleep-friendly environment so you can be well-rested and alert during your shifts.
Is Travel Nursing for You?
Each nurse will have to decide if travel nursing is the right fit for them by taking into consideration their personality, personal commitments and career goals. Early-career nurses with no spouses or children often decide to pursue travel assignments for a chance to gain experience and see the country.
A Viable Career Path
For those who choose to pursue travel nursing, it can be an immensely rewarding and lucrative career. With an estimated 50,000 travel nurses in the U.S. and the opportunity to potentially earn double the pay, plenty of nurses are opting to travel for a living. However, adapting to a new environment, co–workers, and management can pose unique challenges. By following the advice above, you can confidently approach each assignment and find success as a travel nurse.
Learn more about the UTA online RN to BSN program.