I love travel nursing and I think that every nurse should spread their wings and get out there at least once in their career and experience what travel nursing is like. Travel nursing allows you to earn more money, live in amazing places across the United States, gives you ample time off to travel or do what you love, and so much more. Travel nursing allows you to grow both personally and professionally as you’re sometimes put in uncomfortable situations without knowing many people. But with all of good, of course comes the bad. Travel nursing can be incredibly difficult and there are certainly disadvantages of being a travel nurse. So while yes, I think every nurse should experience travel nursing, I also believe that every nurse should be informed about the disadvantages of being a travel nurse too.
Disadvantages of Being a Travel Nurse
Always Being the “New” Nurse
Sometimes it’s exciting to be new; you get to meet new people and be pushed outside your comfort zone, it can be a fun experience! But when it comes to being new at work, that’s a different story. As the new travel nurse at work, you’ll sometimes be treated differently because the other nurses don’t know you and your skill set. They don’t know if they can trust you to watch over their patients during breaks, or trust that you know what you’re doing if your patient gets sick. Always having to prove yourself can get exhausting. On top of that, you probably aren’t getting as many critical patient assignments which can be difficult if those are the types of patients you like to take care of.
Of course, if you stay in a unit for more than one contract, nurses will get to know you better and you’ll be trusted more and more every shift. So while it’s hard to be the new nurse every 13-weeks, go into work with a positive attitude and prove each and every day why you’re an amazing nurse and others will start to see it too.
Finding Housing is Challenging
Finding housing as a travel nurse is one of my biggest challenges and one huge disadvantage of being a travel nurse. Not only is it overwhelming choosing which neighborhood to live in, but on top of that you’re sometimes paying (a lot of) money to move into a strangers home. How do you know it isn’t a scam? And you should also keep in mind that renting a fully furnished apartment for a short period of time can be pretty expensive.
I’ve been through this so many times that I’ve created a few resources for travel nurses looking for housing. Make sure to read this post detailing the best housing options for travel nurses.
And if you’re moving to a city I’ve already worked in as a travel nurse, read the following posts for ideas on which neighborhoods to live in in each city…
Finding a Recruiter You Trust is Overwhelming
Another disadvantage for travel nurses is finding a recruiter that you trust and who is fair. There are so many opportunities for recruiters to take advantage of travel nurses especially when it comes to pay. If you’re working with a recruiter who doesn’t have your best interest in mind, you may find out that you’re the lowest paid travel nurse on the floor. To avoid that, I highly recommend working with a recruiter that someone recommends versus finding one on your own. If you are looking for a recruiter, please DM me on Instagram and I’d be happy to share mine with you!
For more on travel nurse recruiters, don’t miss…
Why Picking a Travel Nurse Recruiter is More Important than Picking a Company
Why it’s Important to Work With More Than 1 Travel Nurse Recruiter
How to Pick the Right Travel Nurse Recruiter for You
Not Being Able to Plan Out Your Schedule in Advance
Not only are you generally not self-scheduling when you’re a travel nurse, but you sometimes don’t even find out your schedule until the day that you arrive. This makes it nearly impossible to plan out anything in advance unless you’ve asked for time off during your contract.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an upside to this one and it just comes with the territory of being a travel nurse.
Fear of Your Contract Getting Canceled
Another disadvantage of travel nursing, is that nothing is set in stone. You might show up to your assignment and be canceled before you start, or you might start and then the census drops and you aren’t needed anymore and you get canceled a month early. While it isn’t common, it can happen, and it’s something you should keep in mind when starting a new assignment.
To be prepared for a cancelation, make sure to check out What to Do if Your Travel Nurse Contract Gets Canceled
Using Private Health Insurance
As a travel nurse, you have two choices when it comes to health insurance. You can opt to use company health insurance, which is generally pretty good… or find your own private insurance. If you’re like me, and you like to take a lot of time off between assignments to travel, company health insurance isn’t the best option, which forces you to take private health insurance instead. The reason is is because the health insurance you get through the travel nurse company usually won’t cover you for a long period of time if you take off work.
When you’re picking a travel nurse company to work with, make sure to inquire about health insurance so you know whether or not you’re going to need private insurance. And if you do need private health insurance, DM me on Instagram and I’d be happy to give you the name of who I use!
Don’t miss: Travel Nurse Health Insurance – What’s the Best Choice for You?
Being First to Float
It’s common knowledge that travel nurses are always the first to float at work. And honestly, it should be that way! While I consider this a disadvantage (I don’t like to float), try to frame it positively in your mind because you’re going to be doing it so you might as well do it with a positive attitude. Try to think of it as a learning opportunity or a chance to meet new people.
Don’t miss: Tips for Nurses Who Have to Float
No Sick Leave/PTO Accrual
Another big disadvantage to travel nursing is that you typically don’t accumulate sick leave or PTO. Some companies do offer the chance to accrue sick leave and PTO, but you generally earn these hours very, very slowly. On top of that, if you call out sick for a shift, your company can choose to withhold your housing and meal stipends for every shift you call out. So not only are you not getting your hourly pay, but now your stipends are being taken away from you which can make your paycheck significantly less money.
If you’re on the fence about travel nursing, I hope that this post doesn’t sway you into not taking a chance on travel nursing. Instead, I hope that it allows you to go into travel nursing with a better idea of how it works, both the good and the bad.
If you liked this post, don’t miss: The Pros and Cons of Travel Nursing