I completed my travel nursing contract job a bit over two weeks ago. While there were positives about the experience (including getting to speak/practice Spanish with most all of my patients every day!), it feels so great to be done. Our days and routines are going much more smoothly. Bonnie is eating and drinking far better these past many days than she has in the past many months. I have been able to attend biblestudy & MOPS once again. I've had two whole weekends in a row off (which feels crazy after working long stretches every other weekend). All of that to say, I'm thrilled to be done and it all kind of feels like it never happened. Though it very much did...
For my fellow nursing friends, I wanted to share a few things I learned about travel nursing and how to make it benefit you the most (Some of these things, I wish I knew prior to this whole experience).
-Financially, it will benefit you most if your permanent residence is 50 miles or more away from your travel site. This is how you will receive the tax-free and stipend benefits that drastically increase your wages.
-Most travel companies will offer to set you up with housing or offer you a housing stipend for you to find living arrangements on our own. Take the stipend and figure out something on your own if possible. This is how most travel nurses make bank (I did not qualify for the housing stipend... or tax free bit, so I was not a lucky travel nurse making bank).
-Negotiate with your recruiter. Yes, you're working for their company, but they desperately want you. YOU make them money. I had no idea I could negotiate... I missed out.
-Add whatever you want in your contract (regarding vacation time, etc). I wanted thanksgiving week off and was hesitant to ask but received it without a problem in my contract. If it's not in your contract, it won't happen. I also discovered I'd have to pay a toll each day to work. They covered the cost with no problem after I asked!
-Be firm. The recruiters are good at their job... very kind... but very persistent. VERY persistent. Know what you want/are looking for, and be firm. Don't feel bad saying no!
-Take your time prior to signing a contract. You will likely be told, "you need to sign it today," etc, but take the time you need to properly research your assigned hospital, ask the questions you have, and make sure your financial package is fair and high enough for the area of the country you will be working in. I had no idea RNs in the bay area made so much money... I did not do proper research and thus was not paid at the best rate I could/should have been. But, now I know!
If you are single/wanting an adventure... Travel nursing could be a great way to go! I most definitely see the advantages and could see myself enjoying it a lot more if I were in a different situation and didn't have a family to care for. It's a great way to learn new skills and be challenged in your nursing practice. It's also a great way to try out living in a new area. Most contracts start out at 13 weeks and can be expanded from there if you're asked to stay. This is where the "be firm" comes in. It's easy to feel pressured into staying...
Ultimately, travel nursing is something I never thought I would do but am glad to have given it a go. It's a great way to work a short stint and then have time off before getting back into it again. A few of the travelers I met work 3 assignments a year and then do whatever they like for the remainder. How fun!
Anyways, if you're an RN (usually need at least 2+ years experience) and have questions about travel nursing or want to look into it further, let me know! I can connect you with the recruiter I worked with (who is very, very kind and helpful).
I must say, it feels great to just be mom day in a day out again! I'm sure the nursing work bug will hit me very soon as I am passionate about my work. For now, I'm all about these babies & hubby of mine!