Can I Be a Local Travel Nurse?
Are you someone who is intrigued by the idea of travel nursing, but you’re hesitant to go somewhere far from home right away? Or do you have family members or any obligations that may keep you close to home, so you’re not sure that travel nursing is an option for you? If so, you may want to consider becoming a local travel nurse.
You may be surprised to learn that it is possible to travel locally or closer to home. When people imagine what travel nursing looks like, they often assume it requires you to be hours away in a distant state. That’s not always feasible or ideal for everyone.
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Flexibility with location is always ideal and will likely afford you more options to choose from. However, you don’t necessarily have to drive 12 hours or fly from Florida to California to make travel nursing happen. With travel nurses being in more demand than ever, it may be worth exploring what assignment options might be available to you closer to home.
There are a couple of things you would need to consider when exploring local travel nursing options.
Caveats of Traveling Locally
First, some clients, hospitals, or facilities may have a radius restriction in place for travel nurse candidates. This means that they require travel nurse candidates to reside a certain number of miles away from the hospital or facility to be eligible for consideration. The distance requirement is determined by the hospital or facility, not the agency. This isn’t always the case, but it’s something you’ll want to be mindful of. Your recruiter should be able to tell you upfront whether the position you’re interested in has any kind of mileage or distance restriction.
Secondly, depending on the circumstances, you may or may not qualify for tax-free stipends, also known as per diems. Generally, you need to be “duplicating your expenses” to be eligible for non-taxable allowances. People who commute to their jobs are typically not duplicating their expenses and thus wouldn’t qualify for non-taxed stipends. Be sure to check with a tax expert or accountant when determining your eligibility for allowances.
Testing the Travel Nursing Waters
If you are a new traveler and want to stay close to home for your first assignment to give travel nursing a trial run, you’re not alone. Leaving the comforts and familiarity of home to take a job in an unfamiliar area and hospital can seem overwhelming and daunting. You may want to have the security of going back home anytime you want during your assignment. This is entirely understandable! However, you may also consider trying to find a shorter contract somewhere, as some hospitals and clients are open to 8-10 weeks versus 13 weeks. You can also request time off during your assignment so that you have scheduled days where you can drive or fly back home. You can visit your friends or family and give yourself a much-needed break.
Again, the goal is to expand the number of options you will have to choose from. The greater the distance from home you’re willing to go, the greater the number of positions that will be available to you. Chat with your recruiter about your needs, wishes, or any hesitations, and develop some solutions that will work well for all parties involved. Being a local travel nurse might be the best path for you!