Let me guess – when you first considered becoming a travel nurse you imagined yourself in a big, fancy, city hospital in New York. Or maybe you pictured beach time in between shifts, say… somewhere along the California coast or in Florida. Travel nursing is an adventure, and there are many exotic places to practice from Hawaii to Alaska. However, this doesn’t always mean you’re going to be in the most populated area. It’s important to remember not to completely write off the idea of traveling nursing to the less exotic places, such as West Virginia. Traveling to Timbuktu may sound terrible, but you could find there are a lot more benefits of rural nursing than you think.
And because someone else said it better…
“Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere you find yourself.”
Now, let’s delve into the pros and cons of rural nursing!
Top Three Benefits of Rural Nursing
1. More money
Since the cost of living is often cheaper in rural areas, one of the biggest benefits of rural nursing is that you have the potential to make more money. For example, often times your salary rate will be about the same regardless if you are in a big city or a small town. The difference is in how much it costs to live in those places. The perk of making your money last longer can often outweigh the downfall of being in the middle of nowhere.
2. Variety of experiences
Working in a rural hospital means that you’ll have to wear many hats, so to speak. Since there are typically less healthcare workers, this means that regardless of your specialty you may have to dabble into different areas of medicine when needed. This can really help to improve your skillset and open your mind up to other options.
3. Personal relationships
One of the more unique benefits of rural nursing is that in a smaller area with less population, you’ll be able to establish more personal relationships. This goes from becoming acutely familiar with a certain patient to building friendships with your coworkers. In a small town, people are everything. Rural nursing can give you a true sense of community that an urban setting just won’t have.
Top Three Cons of Rural Nursing
1. Limited activities
There aren’t many things to do in the middle of nowhere, depending on the location and your interests. Limited activities can be one of the cons of rural nursing. If you’re someone who constantly likes to be on the move or have access to modern conveniences close by, this is unlikely in a rural area.
2. Higher demand
Since hospitals in rural areas have a higher demand for staff, you’re going to be very busy. Just like we said above in the benefits of rural nursing, you’ll wear many hats. Although this can be a perk in that you’ll learn a lot, it can also be a negative. Working in a high-demand environment can cause some to experience burnout faster than others.
This is already touched upon, but aside from having limited activities and a heavy workload, sometimes Timbuktu can be very lonely. Although you’ll likely make person relationships, there could be very few people nearby to relate to. This can cause some people to get stir crazy or feel isolated. Keep in mind that just because you’re in an amazing location like Hawaii or Alaska doesn’t mean the dense population won’t affect you.
What are some other benefits of rural nursing you can think of? Share your favorite memories of rural travel nurse assignments in the comments below!