Top 6 Travel Nurse Myths Busted

You’ve been thinking about travel nursing as a career option for a while now, but you’ve been hesitant to take the plunge. Maybe, you don’t think you can hack it as a travel nurse because you’re naturally shy, or you’ve heard from your friends that travel nurses are given difficult patient loads. Well, Travel Nursing Central has busted the top 6 travel nurse myths wide open below. We bet you’ll be surprised by what you might learn.

Travel Nurse Myths

Don’t let rumors or myths scare you away from a rewarding travel nurse career.

  1. You Must Be Outgoing: While being an extrovert usually helps, it isn’t required in a travel nurse. In fact, most travel nurses believe that being a team player is the more important trait. You’ll make friends faster among the hospital staff if you can quickly learn the hospital’s routine, bring a positive attitude and hit the ground running with your awesome clinical skills. Outside of the hospital setting, there are plenty of perks to traveling alone. First of all, you get to schedule your adventures and enjoy them at your own pace. Going on a hike or indulging in your photography hobby are just some of the activities you can enjoy solo. However, if you’re still worried about how you might handle traveling, you can test the waters by sticking to a location fairly close to home. Then you can truly decide if the travel nurse lifestyle is for you.
  1. You Don’t Get to Choose Your Travel Assignments: Nothing could be further from the truth on this one. You absolutely have a choice when deciding where you want to travel. Your traveling company might not always have a job available in your dream location, but that doesn’t mean you have to go anywhere you don’t want to. Just let your recruiter know a few of your top location preferences and your recruiter will find jobs for you. Overall, remember to keep an open mind about where you decide to travel. You could be surprised to find that you enjoy the slower pace of a small town hospital compared to the rapid-fire pace at a sprawling facility in New York.
  1. You Can’t Take Your Pet with You: There are many companies that will accept your pets as a package deal and will gladly find pet-friendly housing for you. But, not all agencies are willing to let your furry friend come along for the ride. Moral of the story? Do your research before you sign a contract if you want to travel with your pet.
  1. You Aren’t Eligible for Benefits: Almost all travel staffing companies have a benefits package for their travelers, so this myth is a pretty easy one to debunk. However, benefit packages vary greatly with the traveling company. Here again, it pays to do your research. Find out which benefits are the most important to you and go with the company that offers them. You can start your research on TNC’s agency reviews page here.
  1. You Get the Worst Patient Assignments: There’s also the assumption out there that travel nurses get the worst patient assignments. Again, this isn’t usually the case. As a travel nurse, you are there to lighten the hospital’s patient load. Most staff members are happy to have you there, and your patient assignments won’t necessarily be more difficult than a permanent nurse’s load. However, if you know you don’t want to be a floater, put it in writing if possible. Your contract can sometimes be your best protection.
  1. You Will Make Tons More Money as a Travel Nurse: This myth is a bit of a gray area. Many times, travel nurse pay is typically better than a permanent position, but that might not always be the case. There are some assignments that are incredibly lucrative, but others can be comparable to seasoned nurses’ current pay. The key here is to remember that your pay as a travel nurse is usually based on a number of things, including whether or not you take company housing, enroll in company health insurance, and/or the location of your assignment. Again, this all depends on your travel company and how they handle pay. Be sure to ask your recruiter about this issue before you sign a contract, and remember the power of negotiation!
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Future Hiring Trends Look Bright for Travel Nurses

When the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, healthcare in America changed forever. By 2022, the number of nursing jobs is expected to increase by 1.05 million. Likewise, travel nurses will also become a vital resource as the healthcare industry struggles to meet this growing demand.

Check out this infographic from Norwich University’s Master of Science in Nursing Program to learn more about how the Affordable Care Act affected the nursing industry. 

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Ask Travel Nursing Central: Contract Questions

Questions about travel nursing contracts

Reading your travel nursing contract can sometimes leave you with more questions than answers. It’s important to know what you’re signing up for when you agree to a travel assignment.

Your contract is arguably your most important tool to help you navigate the sometimes uncharted waters of your travel nursing career. It can also be the most confusing. Fortunately, Travel Nursing Central is here to help you map out your professional path. We posted some of your frequently asked questions about travel nursing contracts and our answers here. Please keep in mind that our website should not be substituted for legal counsel. Rather, we hope this information helps you become a better advocate for yourself. As always, we recommend that you speak with your recruiter before you sign or break your contract.

Question: “I am on my first assignment in Kentucky. I agreed to this job because the agency and the hospital both made it sound so much better than it actually is. I took a night shift job, which was a huge mistake. I’m not sleeping well, I’m sick 24/7, and I feel depressed and yuck. On top of that, my contract is extremely vague, and things don’t make any sense to me now. I missed a shift, and now they’re taking money away from me. I want out — I’m going through so much and frustrated. Help!”

Answer: “I’m so sorry your first traveling assignment hasn’t been a fun experience. Even though this trip wasn’t everything you’d hoped it would be, you still have options.

In your case, I recommend that you let your recruiter know how you’re feeling about this assignment so far. If your recruiter has your best interests at heart, she or he should be able to reassure you and offer advice on what to do next. Maybe this current assignment is almost done, and you can soon relocate to another hospital with better hours. After all, that’s the positive side of traveling nursing—most assignments are short.

If your assignment is truly unbearable, you can quit, but make sure you read your contract thoroughly so that you understand the consequences. Some contracts have monetary penalties for travelers who end an assignment early. Again, you can always ask your recruiter to go over your contract with you to explain anything that seems vague to you.

For future traveling assignments, I would also suggest thoroughly reviewing any new contract with your recruiter before you sign anything. It’s not always a joy to read all that legal jargon, but, if you do, you won’t ever again be surprised with any unexpected charges or fees. I hope you start feeling better, and enjoy future trips as a traveling nurse soon.”

Question: “I have been at my current travel assignment for almost a year. I have never done travel nursing before this. My travel agency and facility would both like me to renew, but I have heard from different people that you aren’t considered a contract nurse after a year at one facility. My travel agency says this isn’t a problem. What is your understanding of this? I would like to stay at this facility, but I don’t want any surprises if I decide to stay!”

Answer: “You can work at your current facility as long as you like. However, if you decide to stay, you will no longer be eligible to receive a housing stipend or a Per Diem allowance. If you work in the same location for a year, the IRS considers that location as your new permanent tax home. In the eyes of the IRS, you are no longer away from home, so you can’t receive the tax-free money. Whatever you decide, I hope this information helps you in your travel nursing career. Good luck!”

Question: “I am currently fulfilling a contract in California. I was told by my agency that the company I am working for is going to decrease my rate mid-contract. I found out that it was not affecting all travelers on my unit. When I called my agency upset about this rate change, they told me that I could either accept the rate change or my contract would be cancelled.  Can they do this?”

Answer: First of all, I’m sorry to hear that this assignment has been stressful for you. I would highly recommend asking your recruiter about your contract. I’m not a legal expert, but they should not be able to change the terms of your contract without consent on both sides and without proper notice. However, there could be provisions in your contract which would allow your agency to the cancel the assignment if you don’t agree. Without reading the specifics of your contract, I believe you have two choices in your current situation. You can accept the change and complete the assignment, or you decline the change and start looking for another position with another agency. Again, I would speak with your recruiter first to fully understand your options before you make any decisions in your current assignment. Thanks for writing and good luck!

For more FAQs regarding travel nursing contracts, please click here

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