Updated: Sep 18
If you’re a staff nurse that has ever considered travel nursing, then this is the section for you. Travel nursing offers a variety of benefits and a change of pace for anyone looking for something new, but it’s not for everyone. Like any position, travel nursing jobs have their ups and downs, and here we’ll take a little dive into what those are.
Interested in what other nurses have to say about travel nursing? Check out our Travel Nurse Testimonials page here!
Are you Looking for Stability?
The joy of a staff nursing job is you know where you’ll be employed almost indefinitely. And while the job of course varies from day to day as different patients are checked-in and checked-out, many nurses enjoy returning to the same job each week, with the same co-workers, at the same health care facility, in the same town.
Travel nurses on the other hand exchange a little of that stability for the thrill of adventure. You can absolutely plan assignments back-to-back so you’ll always have consistent (and often higher) income but you may not always be able to work at the same hospital. Instead you’ll jump into an exciting world where everything and everyone is new. You’ll expand your skill set and master the art of “showing your stuff” at each new facility you work at.
If you do prefer the longevity a staff position provides but want to get your toes wet in travel nursing, consider asking your recruiter about extending your contract. While not always possible, many travel nurses end up working at the same hospital for at least six months, which gives them plenty of time to establish some roots, build some friendships, and get to know the area in which they’re living. If you’re considering travel nursing for the first time, this may be a great in-between for you.
Are you really going to miss those office politics?
Guess what staff nurses never miss when they take jobs as travel nurses? Drama.
Unfortunately, when you work with the same people each week, it’s a bit hard to avoid disputes over schedules, pay raises, promotions, even staffing ratios.
When you work as a travel nurse – you’re immediately free of all that. You’re the new kid on the block and can easily stay out of all the office politics because you’re not stressing about being promoted or getting a better position – you’ve already got it!
The one downside is making friends will be a little harder because you're only on the assignment temporarily. However, everyone appreciates a nurse that focuses on their job and helps others accomplish theirs, and oftentimes, invites to ‘Taco Tuesday’ happen quicker than you’d think.
When working as a staff nurse, it’s easy to quickly become an expert at various aspects of your job. You know exactly where things are, who to call, and what specific patients need. You’ll also know the most popular diagnosis, how to treat them and you’re familiar with the seasonal illnesses/injuries of your location.
But if you’ve “been there, done that” and are looking to try something new (without the headache of switching specialties or going back to school) travel nursing is your answer. You can take a job in your home state to start off or jump right into a completely new territory. You’ll see a completely different set of patients, enjoy the various regional differences and most likely tackle disorders and/or illnesses you’ve never seen before. You’ll also work with different technology, a new set of friendly faces (doctors, nurses, administrative support staff), and learn a completely new way to get things done.
Of course, both staff and travel nursing jobs have their own unique opportunities to learn, you’ll just have to decide which is right for you.
Pay structure differences
There really isn’t too much difference between how a staff nurse is paid as compared to a travel nurse. Both track their hours. While staff nurses usually clock in with a badge before each shift and get paid on a bi-weekly basis by the hospital, travel nurses usually submit hours worked to Next Move, and are paid directly by Next Move on a weekly basis. If you find any discrepancies with your pay, you’ll want to work them out directly with Next Move and not the hospital for which you’re working.
So one of the obvious perks of being a staff nurse is earning paid time off. Depending on how long a staff nurse has worked for an organization they’ll earn anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks of PTO each year. In addition, most staff nurses will also have paid sick days. Travel nurses at Next Move do not acquire any paid or sick time off – which can of course seem super lame at the outset, and frustrating if you do need to take time off during an assignment. But what staff nurses never get, and travel nurses get in-between assignments is the ability to take time off whenever, and for however long they so choose. Because travel nurses tend to earn more per hour as compared to staff nurses (Next Move travel nurses earn $1900 a week on average) – the average travel nurse only works 36 weeks a year. That’s 16 weeks off a year!
To Stay or to Travel
A big difference between travel nurses and staff nurses are what they hold to be valuable in their personal lives. This can include raising a family, spending a lot of time with close friends, having new experiences, or going on new adventures. Travel nurses tend to be of the “new experiences/adventures” variety and usually have just a few years of experience and are seeking to take on new jobs and learn new things. Or they’re the empty nester type looking to spice up a lifelong career. Or they can be the young, adventurous family type that wishes to take on a nomadic lifestyle.
Think about what values are important to you and choose the career path that best suits those values.
Interested in seeing what nursing jobs we have available today? Check out our job board here.