By Kiley Griffin, R.N.
You’ve chosen to enter one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, and your decision to become a nurse allows you to help others while making a great income. With so many job opportunities at your fingertips, it’s often hard to know which direction to go. After all, options such as becoming a travel nurse are glamorous at first glance, but they also have some drawbacks.
Having the freedom to choose from different types of positions is one of the perks of being a nurse, and one of the biggest choices you face is whether you want to pursue travel nursing or apply for a permanent position at a hospital. It’s also important to consider, that on average, a nurse only travels for roughly two years and then spends the remaining part of their career in permanent roles. As you weigh your options, you can ask yourself these questions to make sure that you are happy in your new position:
1. What Are Your Career Goals?
Increasing your income is a common reason why you may be looking for a new position. People often claim that travel nursing offers higher pay. However, this is not always the case. If you are considering this type of nursing job, then you must carefully weigh all of the factors that affect your income.
For example, in California, the take home pay of a permanent nurse is usually 20 - 30 percent higher than a travel nurse. Travel agencies will also take a 15 - 20 percent fee of what the hospital is paying you. In other words, a lower hourly rate. As a travel nurse, your travel agency will only offer a limited housing stipend. In areas with a higher cost of living, this could mean studio living or having roommates.
Your goal may also be to work your way up through the nursing ranks to one day be the head of your department. Or another goal is having the opportunity to grow your skill set. Achieving these goals is far easier when you build your reputation by working within the same hospital system for a period of time.
2. Do You Enjoy the Job Search Process?
On average, you can expect a travel nurse position to last anywhere from two to six months. However, you can sometimes file for an extension if there is still currently a demand for someone with your experience and credentials. This means that you can expect to need to re-apply and interview for new nursing positions on a regular basis.
While some people love the job search process, this type of arrangement also gets stressful. When your goal is more permanent employment, Incredible Health flips the script by having employers apply to you. This unique process puts you in the driver’s seat since you can compare multiple permanent offers from different hospitals, and interviewing is so much easier when you know that a potential employer already needs what you bring to the table.
3. Will You Need to Obtain a New License?
You’ve worked hard to earn your credentials, yet you may have more work to do if you pursue travel nursing opportunities in a state that you are not currently licensed to provide services in. Although you can obtain a compact license that now allows you to work in 29 states, you may still need to apply for a new license if you work in a state that is not included in the agreement. You will also need to be prepared to comply with all the continuing education and training hours that are required to keep your license active in each state that you obtain one in.
4. Do You Need a Positive Company Culture?
There’s no way around it — every company has a unique culture and politics that guide people’s behaviors. While nurses in hospitals develop a team mindset that fosters a positive work environment, many travel nurses come up against negative attitudes from the staff at hospitals where they are assigned.
Unfortunately, many permanent staff members feel as though temporary nurses take hours away from the dedicated members of their team. Other members of the healthcare community believe that temporary nurses compromise patient care. These kinds of negative attitudes make working at a hospital in a permanent role more appealing.
5. Do You Love Where You Live Now?
It’s easy to be enticed by travel nursing when you envision yourself visiting exciting new cities every few months. However, you may need to carefully consider how much you’d like spending two to six months or so in a location with very little to do. You may also dislike the climate in your assigned location or develop a serious case of homesickness.
When you opt for a permanent position at a hospital, whether full or part-time, you choose where you want to spend your time. Since living in a place such as California gives you plenty of places to explore, whether you love hiking in the mountains or lounging beachside during your time off, staying in one place gives you the opportunity to enjoy new adventures and a sense of stability at work.
There are always times when a career change is just the boost you need to revive your love for nursing. Yet, you may already be in a place that offers you more stable employment in a hospital near where you already live. While you never know what the future holds, taking the time to carefully picture yourself in each type of position helps you make the best decision for your success in nursing.