While travel nursing can provide adventure and reward, it can also be taxing. Though the day-to-day in each assignment may be similar to a traditional nursing job, hopping from one assignment to the next is anything but normal. Over time, you may become exhausted from all the packing, moving, and readjusting that each contract might bring, especially if you leave little downtime between each new job. If this describes you, it may be time to take a step back from this kind of work. Below are some suggestions to keep in mind as you go about taking a break from travel nursing.
1. Determine the Length of Your Break.
There are no hard and fast rules about how much time you should take between each assignment. Only you know how long is long enough. However, as you are making this decision, you should consider how long you can survive without pay because travel nursing jobs typically do not provide paid time off. Additionally, no work can mean no medical insurance, depending on your personal circumstances. If you are new to travel nursing, it might be wise to speak with an agency advisor for some sound advice around break lengths between contracts. Alternatively, you can speak with other travel nurses to see what they do. No matter what length of time you decide on, make sure it’s worthwhile and truly allows you to accomplish the following steps.
2. Focus On Things You’ve Been Neglecting.
This is not a suggestion; it’s a plea! It’s important to unwind no matter what job you have. In the healthcare field, it’s even more essential. You likely know from experience that nurses often work long hours. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, lengthy work weeks and travel nursing contracts seemed to be a packaged deal. Taking a break from this line of work should include adequate rest. This can look different for each person. Determine for yourself what would be the best form of R&R for you. Are you in need of a relaxing vacation? Do you want to catch up on some zzzs? Or could you use a trip to the spa? Whatever you decide, be sure not to confuse rest and relaxation with recreation.
While different from rest, recreation is just as vital. You’ve heard the saying, “All work or no play makes you dull.” The same is somewhat true if all you do is work and sleep. You have to make time to let loose. Once again, only you know what that looks like for yourself. It’s easy to spend your entire break vegging out in front of the TV. There’s nothing wrong with making some time to do that, but you probably don’t want to spend all of your allotted time for recreation between assignments glued to your couch or bed. If you’re an active person, make some time to try a workout class you can’t normally attend. If you’re outdoorsy, find the nearest incline and put on your hiking boots. The sky’s the limit!
If your assignments often involve long work weeks, it’s easy to put off important things and neglect responsibilities at your home base. Due to back to back contracts, you may have pushed duties like household chores, car maintenance, and scheduling appointments on the back burner. Now is the time to take care of those responsibilities. When you are ready to begin work again, you want a fresh start, not lingering tasks. To avoid overwhelming yourself while you’re trying to recuperate before heading back out into the field, it would be helpful to make a realistic list based on task priority. Be sure to balance your time between these responsibilities, rest, and recreation. Don’t beat yourself up if there are things you don’t get around to.
3. Plan for the Future.
Remember that you will have to return to work at some point, whether it’s to another travel nursing job or a different position in healthcare. If you haven’t already thought about it, it’s important to come up with a plan of action.
If you’re intending to return to travel nursing long-term, will your previous living/lodging arrangement continue to work for you, or will you need to explore other options? Some nurses have their own home or apartment but take advantage of whatever lodging provisions their staffing agency offers or utilize other housing options while on assignment. Alternatively, some have turned to mobile living. If that’s something you are considering, be sure to count the cost. A traditional mortgage will not do the trick. If your savings aren’t enough to foot the bill, you may need to apply for a personal loan to finance your tiny living space.
There’s no shame in taking a break. In fact, it’s healthy. Listen to your body and mind as you try to navigate work/life balance as a healthcare professional. The beauty of travel nursing is that opportunity always awaits!
We hope you found this article on taking a break from travel nursing helpful. Have you taken a break from travel nursing? If you would like to share some tips, comment below.