With what seems like an almost constant shortage of nurses and healthcare workers globally, travel nursing has become an increasingly popular occupation. It tends to the problem of a shortage of healthcare workers while allowing healthcare workers to get experience and work done.
On top of getting work experience and being a force of good, helping others in a time of need, the travel nurses also get to experience foreign people, food, and cultures.
This is a significant boon and benefit for healthcare workers who are the more adventurous type or enjoy a change of scenery now and again.
What is a Travel Nurse?
Put simply: A ‘Travel Nurse’ is a nurse or healthcare worker of some kind that travels to a different country to lend a hand in the face of a crisis or shortage of healthcare workers. It is a very noble profession, just like any other job that entails helping others and saving lives, and one that will, unfortunately, see you plenty of work.
We say ‘unfortunately’ because the job of a travel nurse was founded because of a shortage of hands, and it doesn’t look like the shortage is going to decrease for many years to come.
However, the very fact that there are so many travel nurses in the world is an inspiring thing, as there are people who travel to various countries, lending their help to the various short-staffed hospitals.
What Does a Travel Nurse Do?
This means travel nurses get to work in foreign countries, help out in hospitals that need a helping hand, and experience what it is like working in a different hospital with different people and cultures. The contracts are very flexible in their duration, so a travel nurse will never be left bored of a setting or scene, with a contract lasting anywhere between eight and twenty-six weeks.
Most commonly, travel nurses take a contract lasting thirteen weeks so that they have ample time to make a good impact at their new workplace while also giving themselves enough time to explore and experience this new land.
How Does Being a Travel Nurse Work?
On the note of contracts, it should be mentioned that there is a middleman in this deal. There are roughly 340 travel nursing agencies in the United States, with 110 of them certified through the Joint Commission.
There is no shortage of avenues to take, and it can often be overwhelming which agency to go through. The certified agencies are the most trusted, and the busiest, as well as the ones that get the most work from foreign hospitals.
As mentioned before, the travel agencies will offer you contracts generally lasting between 8 and 26 weeks. These weeks are very flexible, and it is up to the nurse themselves how long they stay for, picking the contract length they desire, and that works for them.
Ending a contract early is very difficult, if not impossible, as it is a legal contract that cannot be broken without repercussions, so you will have to make your choice wisely.
Is Being a Travel Nurse Sustainable Long-Term?
It should be noted that this can be a somewhat risky job in terms of job stability. While there is no shortage of assistance needed around the globe, the contracts’ nature means you can sometimes get the short end of the stick and not end up with a contract you like, or not even get one at all. This is a rare instance, but it is possible.
Additionally, it is rare, but not unheard of, for a hospital to cancel your contract and send you home early should they find more local hands to fill the gap. If this does happen, you won’t be paid for the remainder of the contract, and your agency will have to scramble to get you a new position or bring you home.
How to get a Job as a Travel Nurse
Owing to the slightly unstable nature of the job, and how the contracts work, the salary can vary wildly. The average annual salary for a travel nurse in 2019 was $92,734, a significant figure given the many other benefits you get with this job.
You’ll need to have studied and gotten an education with a nursing school, with a minimum of four years of study under your belt. Otherwise, you’ll need an ADN or BSN qualification.
A travel nurse is a noble profession that has you leaving home to a foreign country to help out where there is a lack of healthcare workers. The job pays quite well if you can land a job, which is the tricky part. But once you find an excellent agency to work through, you’ll be set to work for a good while.