By Susan Schneider, contributor and Claire Brocato, feature writer
The list of benefits travel nurses enjoy is a long one. It includes
everything from bonuses of up to $6,000 and company-paid housing
to excellent salaries and health insurance plans. For RNs looking
to enhance their résumés or pursue an interest, travel nursing offers
opportunities that aren't always available to permanent employees.
Shana Lyons, RN, from Charleston, West Virginia, who has been working as a travel nurse with American Mobile Healthcare for three years, said she likes to take advantage of learning how nurses in different hospitals perform the same tasks.
“You get to challenge your skills as a nurse and learn how to do things a different way," she related. "I work in dialysis and it's interesting to see how the same procedures are done in the hospitals I’ve traveled to."
In addition to the professional benefits, many nurses use travel nursing as a way to pursue their passions and hobbies.
Travel nurse, Janet Sonderman, RN, is an avid fisherwoman. One of the ways she determines which contracts to accept is by studying the local fishing opportunities. She chose one assignment in Illinois because of its proximity to great bluegill and catfish lakes. Alaska is high on her list of places to visit because of its legendary salmon fishing.
Robert Evans, an emergency room nurse, considers travel nursing an 'extended vacation.' He is passionate about scuba diving and has enjoyed assignments on both coasts near beautiful marine areas, such as Miami and San Diego.
"I tell the company I work for, American Mobile Healthcare, where I want to go and I pretty much have been sent everywhere I've requested. I consider myself a tourist and try to pick places my friends will want to visit too."
Many travel nurses enjoy sharing the benefits of traveling with their families.
Margo Kerby, RN, chose to become a travel nurse eight years ago once her two grown sons had moved out of home. After enjoying assignments in such far-flung destinations as Honolulu, Hawaii; Dallas, Texas; Tucson, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada; Kerby, learned that she was going to be a grandmother. She immediately focused her attentention on finding assignments in Oklahoma City, the hometown of her son, daughter-in-law and soon-to-be grandchild.
"Working near my family gives me the chance to spoil my new little grandson to pieces," Kerby said. "I’ve wanted to be a grandma for ages and travel nursing has made it possible for me to be with my family for an extended period of time and to share this precious time with them."
For some nurses, such as Medical Express traveler, Rose Cousineau, the most rewarding aspect of travel nursing is the ability to escape the stress that’s often associated with nursing.
“I didn’t realize while working in middle management in my permanent job how frustrated and burned out I’d become,” she said. “I worked in a very controlled, stressful environment with no flexibility. It was only once I started working as a travel nurse that my eyes were opened to an entirely different world. It was like night and day.”
“It was the best move I could have made,” she continued. “Working as a travel nurse has breathed wonderful new life into my profession.”