While salary is certainly important, there’s a lot more to weigh when deciding whether a travel nursing gig is right for you. Here are five things to consider besides compensation.
The structure and expectations of each position are going to have the greatest impact on your day-to-day well-being. Though you may be willing to put up with a lot if you have a $2000 weekly take home, the requirements of a specific position may erode your enjoyment of your career:
- Schedule. Make sure a potential gig’s schedule is in line with how you live your life. If you know you tend to suffer from shift work disorder or that you prefer to sleep during the day, make sure your schedule accommodates your needs.
- Mandatory overtime. You probably don’t need a study to tell you that mandatory overtime contributes to nurse burnout and patient dissatisfaction. Before signing on the dotted line, have a clear picture of how much overtime you will be required to work.
- Floating. Floating to unfamiliar units is difficult enough as a traditional nurse. But for travel nurses, who are already in a new environment, it can create an even higher level of uncertainty. Float pool nurses have notorious low job satisfaction, especially if undertrained. Inquire into your new gig’s float expectations and make sure you feel comfortable meeting them.
Location, location, location
This is a big one. Where you travel determines much about your life — from what you do when you’re off-duty to the friends you’ll meet during your gig. It’s helpful to have a firm list of what’s most important to you in a location and aim for places that suit you best.
Here are some factors to consider when creating the list of what you value in a locale:
- Cost of living
- Social opportunities
Now, you may settle on the best town around, but if it has a gridlocked housing market, it might be difficult for you to find a good home. As with location, it’s important to consider what you value in a home, even a temporary one, and have firm dealbreakers in mind when considering a job offer.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Does the agency-provided housing feel liveable?
- What kind of accommodations will the housing stipend get you in the town where you’re headed?
- Are you willing to live in a smaller or less comfortable place to earn a higher salary?
- Are you willing to forgo the highest salary to live in a more comfortable home?
Opportunity for growth
A big salary isn’t the only way to invest in your future. Positions that offer opportunities to improve your techniques, learn from exciting mentors, and broaden your skill set are more valuable than can be quantified with a base rate.
Say you’re offered a position at a teaching hospital in a big city, with state-of-the-art technology, cutting-edge research, and a strong team of nurse mentors to choose from. The pay is not as substantial as another job in a small town, at a hospital with limited resources, doing a lot of the same work you’ve done in the past.
The educational opportunity at the teaching hospital might be worth the lowered salary. The skills, mentorship, and connections that you gain could launch you into a new phase of your career, inspire you to pursue a different specialty, or just make you that much better at your job. Not only is that opportunity invaluable, it could lead to greater salary potential in the future.
Your coworkers, hospital culture, and patients will all have a big impact on your day-to-day happiness.
Get a good idea of the culture, what the organization values, and what kind of folks you’ll be working with. Talk to others who have worked in a hospital you are thinking of traveling to. Take a look at online forums or Facebook groups for the organization.
Just $100 more a month might not be enough to make up for a notoriously toxic work environment. On the other hand, it may be worth it to take a lower paying gig if it means gaining some lifelong friends along the way.
Looking for some inspiration on where to go for your next gig? Check out our blog on the top ten travel nursing destinations.