Characteristics of the Ideal Travel Nurse
By Christine Whitmarsh, RN, BSN
If you’re a regular reader of the blogs here on travel nurse source, please give me some credit that I’ve been a TNS blogger for several months now and this is my first “top ten list”. During that time, I have had the opportunity to research travel nursing, speak with and receive feedback from veteran travel nurses and those who have just gotten their feet wet in this exciting area of nursing. As a result, I have devised a list of characteristics that I believe make up the perfect candidate for a career in travel nursing.
1. Clearly – a love of travel. This does not necessarily mean that you have to be a “road trip” person or an aspiring jetsetter. After all, you are only traveling between assignments, which are typically three months long. Some travel nurses prefer to life an RV-based lifestyle, meeting new people in RV communities around the country. Others prefer to enjoy the furnished housing provided by travel nurse agencies with the assignment. The common denominator is the travel nurse’s willingness to live for the experience more than coming home to the same house of “stuff” every night.
2. A flexible and understanding family. Despite the misconception that travel nursing is only for single people, there are several examples I have heard about where an understanding spouse and adventurous offspring can turn a travel nursing career into a never ending family adventure. Most families have to save up for road trips across the U.S.A. Travel nurses and their families get paid to travel.
3. A passion for experiencing new towns, suburbs and big cities (depending on your preference). During my interview with veteran travel nurse Epstein LaRue, she mentioned that the first thing that she and her husband do upon arriving in a new town is to travel one hour in each direction, exploring. I can’t say that her adventures didn’t make me a little jealous.
4. Speaking of the job part. Travel nursing assignments seem ideal for the nurse with a short attention span. If you don’t feel the need to get to know your colleagues – nurses, doctors, etc. – for more than a few months, a career as a travel nurse is ideal.
5. Love to learn? Technology, procedures and treatment techniques move so fast in health care that traveling from hospital to hospital around the country might just be the only way to keep up. Nurses are usually natural born learners and bookworms, and a career in travel nursing capitalizes on this curiosity for knowledge and new experiences.
The irony is that the list above describes many nurses currently working in permanent positions. My feeling is that most nurses, especially new graduates, either don’t realize that this is accessible to them or are weighted down with misconceptions they have heard about a career in travel nursing. In reality, a good traveling nurse agency recruiter has some flexibility in customizing a travel nurse career based on the nurse’s experience, career goals and lifestyle. This is an excellent time to contact a recruiter to discuss questions and concerns about a career as a travel nurse.
Christine Whitmarsh is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from the University of Rhode Island. She is a freelance health journalist and medical writer and a contributor to Travel Nurse Source and Allied Travel Careers.