Before you dive into your first healthcare travel assignment, it's important that you understand both the benefits and drawbacks. We're all about being Real here at Triage so it's important that everyone who signs a contract with us understands the benefits of being a travel nurse or healthcare traveler. But, because not everything is all sunny all the time, there can be some definite drawbacks.
Benefits of Travel Nursing or Healthcare Travel: Higher Pay
One of the biggest pros of being a healthcare traveler is higher pay. Because travelers move around every 13 weeks, they typically have a higher hourly rate than a hospital staff. Added into that is the fact that they receive tax-free stipends to help cover housing costs, as long as they're duplicating expenses. If you're able to find housing that's less expensive than your stipend amount, you'll be able to pocket the difference.
Drawbacks of Travel Nursing or Healthcare Travel: Lower "On Paper" Pay
On the flip side, because healthcare travelers don't have all their pay show up in their taxable income, some have reported issues getting a mortgage for a new home. This is because the IRS and in turn, the mortgage companies, don't consider stipends as a reliable part of income. But, there are a couple easy ways to get around this. One way is to stick with the same travel agency for two years. This shows steady employment that helps alleviate any concerns about contract work. Another, is to find a mortgage company that's experienced with the life of a healthcare traveler. If your local bank doesn't understand what your job means, keep looking.
Benefits of Travel Nursing or Healthcare Travel: Exploring New Areas
During their off time, travelers get to explore their local area, which is a definite benefit. A lot of travelers create a bucket list of places they want to go and things they want to see. When you accept an assignment, check out the local area and create a list of hikes, local restaurants, attractions and more so you can get the most out of each assignment.
Drawbacks of Travel Nursing or Healthcare Travel: Moving Every 13 Weeks
Travelers travel. Since they're there to fill in gaps at a healthcare facility, it's normal that travelers move often. While extensions happen, most people only stay in one place for their 13 weeks before they move on. Making friends, finding a place to stay and packing up at the end of an assignment are all difficult. While your recruiter can't help with all of it, Triage recruiters often have a network of hotels and other forms of housing and can be a valuable resource if you're looking for a place to stay during your assignment.
Benefits of Travel Nursing or Healthcare Travel: Flexible Schedules
If you've ever wanted to take a few weeks off work at a staff job, but don't have that much vacation, traveling might be the way to go. Because travelers aren't tied to any specific location, they're able to take time off in between assignments. Although this time is unpaid, travelers are typically able to take this time off because of their higher pay rates. Some travelers take an extended vacation during the summer months, and then again around the winter holidays. Whether you choose a vacation or to work year round, the flexibility is yours.
Drawbacks of Travel Nursing or Healthcare Travel: Higher Workload
This doesn't happen in all facilities, but the truth is that some facilities give travelers higher patient ratios or the more complex cases. This is why it's so important for travelers to be ready to dive in as soon as they hit the unit. However, if you're consistently concerned about your ratio or patient load, Triage has a clinical department with licensed RNs who are available to help you navigate any clinical concerns that pop up during your assignment. If you need assistance, let your recruiter know and they will get you in touch with your clinical liaison who's there to help.
Is healthcare travel for you? Are the travel nursing benefits worth it? Connect with a Triage recruiter today and let them get started in finding you travel assignment.