Why Every Nurse Should Try Travel Nursing At Least Once

“You know, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, but it just never seems like the perfect time. How do I know if I’m really ready?”

I’ve heard this question in its various forms from travelers-to-be many, many times over the years as a recruiter. I completely respect that taking the leap into travel nursing is not an easy decision to make, nor one that should be taken lightly. There are a lot of considerations, including any loved ones back home who may be impacted in some way by you being away from home for any length of time.

That being said, I have rarely heard anyone say, “Boy, I wish I would have NEVER tried travel nursing!” Sure, sometimes it’s not all unicorns and rainbows, but ultimately, travel nursing is a highly rewarding and enriching experience for those who make the commitment.

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Here are the reasons why I think every nurse should try travel nursing at least once:

You will sharpen your clinical skills and broaden your knowledge base.

There is a good chance that as a traveler, you will encounter situations that you’ve never dealt with up to this point in your nursing career. Maybe you’ve always wanted to care for cardiac patients but never had the chance to, and your facility has agreed to let you work with those patients (after some proper training, of course). You may learn a new charting system. You may see a veteran nurse do something a little differently than you’ve done it in the past, and you think doing it their way will actually make your job easier, so you decide to switch things up. The possibilities are endless. Most of the travelers I’ve encountered love to learn new things, and they’re continually seeking ways to do their jobs better. Travel nursing is a wonderful opportunity to do precisely that.

You have the chance to explore this amazing country – an opportunity you may not have otherwise had.

I have personally had the opportunity and privilege to visit multiple countries, but I can tell you that there’s no place like the great U.S. of A. We are so spoiled for choice in terms of how many beautiful landscapes, vibrant cities, sparkling coasts, and natural wonders we have access to. You could be a travel nurse for months, even years, and just scratch the surface. And how many people get the chance to see all of these wonderful places and make money at the same time? Not many.

While there’s still no place like home, there are many places out there where you can feel right at home – whether you enjoy the great outdoors or prefer to bask in the bright lights of the big cities.

Need some travel job location inspiration? Check out Live Like a Local!

You’ll have a better understanding of (and appreciation for) what you’re truly capable of.

Until we’re put into new situations that require us to expand our comfort zones, we never truly know what we’re capable of doing. Humans are incredibly adaptable creatures. Think about the last time that you had to try something new, whether you built a new habit, had to move into a new house, start a new job, etc. Then, think about how long it took you to get used to those new behaviors or surroundings. I’m willing to bet it didn’t take very long.

Every time you are put into a new situation or environment, the discomfort you might feel only means that you are growing. You are expanding your comfort zone, and with every new situation you put yourself into, your comfort zone gets bigger and bigger. There is an immense sense of accomplishment one can feel when they’ve broken through their own boundaries.

Travel nursing gives us an opportunity to expand our comfort zones, and during that expansion, we are acquiring new skills and developing characteristics that enable us to tackle any future unknowns. You’d be pleasantly surprised how much easier it gets after that first travel assignment!

Travel nursing looks fantastic on a résumé. 

“So, you’re telling me that you had to be flexible to the needs of the hospital and the unit, you adapted quickly to new settings where you’d never previously worked, and you built upon your clinical skills and learned new and better ways of doing things that you can now bring to us to help us to get better?

When can you start?”

Okay, so the conversation might not go exactly like that in your potential future interview, but it still remains the case that hiring managers at most facilities love to see travel nursing experience on a resume. Travel nurses possess a unique skill-set – both clinical skills and soft skills – that allow them to flourish in nearly any type of medical setting. Who wouldn’t want to hire someone who has been there, done that, and could share what they’ve learned with their fellow team members? Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Understand this: It will never be the “perfect” time to travel.

I remember vividly the weeks leading up to my decision to leave the country and travel for a few years. I questioned my decision every single day. I had a great job, I had friends whom I cared for deeply, I had a family who cared about me – I had a lot of “reasons” to stay behind. I could have come up with a million more reasons: Maybe I should save more money. Maybe I should stick with a job that I know is stable and secure. Maybe my friends won’t still be my friends when I come back home. I’m telling you; the doubts and the fears will not stop. You must proceed despite them.

Traveling solo? Check out: “10 Tips for Success When Traveling Alone”

And, while I don’t have a magic crystal ball and can’t predict your future, I can tell you that in all probability, it’s going to be worth it. Yes, you will experience challenges and frustrations. However, I’m willing to bet that they will pale in comparison to that triumphant feeling of accomplishment that sets in when you look back, at the end of that first travel assignment, and proudly declare to yourself, “I freakin’ DID IT.”

It doesn’t get any better than that, my friends.

Every nurse should try travel nursing at least once. You have a fantastic opportunity to explore a beautiful country, meet new people, sharpen your clinical skills, and better prepare yourself for the next great opportunity that comes your way. And as your recruiter, I’ll be there with you every step of the way to help make it as wonderful of an experience as possible for you.

I believe in you! You can do it!

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Charity Crawford
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