How Travel Nursing Can Make You a Better Nurse
By Laura Winzeler, Contributor
Travel nursing can be a fun, fulfilling way to pursue your passion for providing high-quality medical care.While you're enjoying the plentiful perks that come with each travel nurse assignment, you're also becoming a better nurse.
Learn seven ways travel nursing helps you build a solid foundation for your future, hones your skills and makes you a desirable hiring candidate for top-ranked health care facilities across the country
1. You Learn From a Diverse Group of Colleagues
One of the great benefits of traveling nursing is collaborating with peers who come from different geographical areas. They, no doubt, have educational backgrounds and areas of expertise that differ from yours. All the new people you meet along the way have the potential to be either great additions to your professional network or lifelong personal friends.
2. You Grow Your Career By Learning New Clinical Skills
As you work side-by-side and share ideas with colleagues in a variety of settings, your knowledge bank expands. Constant exposure to new policies and procedures helps you become more proficient and versatile. By working in different facilities, from top-ranked urban hospitals to rural community clinics, you gain valuable experience that fills out your resume and makes you very attractive to prospective employers should you decide to secure a more permanent position.
3. Living in Different Geographical Regions Broadens Your Cultural Awareness
The diversity you encounter when you move from region to region can help you develop a multicultural awareness that makes you a better caregiver. You may face a variety of healthcare traditions, socioeconomic factors, religious beliefs and communication patterns that can enhance your cultural competency if met with sensitivity and appreciation. This exposure, both during your shift and in your off-time as you explore your new surroundings, can help make you even more skilled at caring for people across different languages and cultures.
4. You Have Many Opportunities to Deepen Your Empathy
Many travel nurse assignments take you to medically underserved populations and patients who experience economic, cultural or linguistic barriers to healthcare. Examples of these groups include:
- Low-income patients
- The homeless
- Medicaid-eligible patients
- Native Americans
- Migrant farmworkers
People in underserved communities are far more likely to suffer from diabetes, heart disease, cancer, cirrhosis and infant mortality, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Often, the lack of access to affordable, nutritious food and increased use of drugs and alcohol exacerbate medical issues.
The patients you treat may be noncompliant, requiring you to provide the encouragement they need to follow through with a treatment plan. As you try to understand why they aren't taking medications or keeping physical therapy appointments, you may probe more deeply to discover the obstacles that prevent compliance. As you empathize with their struggles, you develop even better-listening skills that will encourage the patients you treat to trust you more readily.
5. The Novelty of Each New Assignment Keeps Your Mind Sharp
Because you're always learning new skills and constantly changing environments, you're challenging your brain and staying mentally active. This is at the top of Harvard Medical School's list of ways to keep your mind sharp at any age. This kind of brain exercise is thought to maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them by activating processes that help prevent cognitive decline.
6. You Can Always Schedule Downtime When You Need a Break
As a travel nurse, you're in control of your work schedule. If you feel the warning signs of burnout or compassion fatigue, you can take some time off for self-care. Travel nurse Kay Slane, RN, makes enough money during the six months she works in California to support her summer off in Idaho. Having the freedom to decompress when you need to keeps you fresh, alert and motivated when you do return to work.
7. You Gain Confidence.
The constant exposure to new people, places and on-the-job experiences that travel nursing entails makes you a far more adaptable, flexible nurse than if you stayed in one place and held a full-time position. When you realize you can seamlessly step into different positions as demands change, you become more confident and a more desirable hiring candidate. Your high value gives you the leverage you need to go for the best-paying travel nurse assignments in the country's premier locations.
If you're in the market for a new nursing opportunity that can help sharpen your skills, visit the American Mobile travel nurse job board to explore thousands of currently available positions in all specialties and all 50 states.