If you’re considering a transition to a career as a travel nurse, you might have wondered why hospitals hire travel nurses in the first place. After all, why hire someone temporarily when the hospital could just hire full-time staff? The answer is, at its roots, because travel nurses are extremely necessary to the everyday running of hospitals from coast-to-coast. To delve into the reasoning behind this answer, read on:
1. To fill short-term staffing needs
As the Houston Chronicle pointed out, there are always times when a hospital needs to fill a short-term position. For instance, if a hospital is looking to fill a highly skilled position, it may take a while to find the right long-term candidate. While the hiring process is ongoing, the hospital usually finds a travel nurse to fill that role. Unlike other professions, hospitals can’t afford to have vacant positions, so rather than leave an opening, a travel nurse takes over. The position may need to be filled for a few weeks or for several months, depending on the skills required and the available long-term applicants. In other cases, the number of available positions at a hospital will ebb and flow with the seasons – as snow birds head south, so do the nurses that take care of them.
2. To cover for leaves of absence
After a long period of work in certain environments or specific specialties, the stress of nursing can begin to wear down even the most resilient of nurses. That’s why it’s not uncommon for experienced nurses to take a month or two off for a sabbatical or leave of absence, as was noted in a cost-benefit analysis found in the National Library of Medicine. Nurses also take maternity leave, have surgeries or go on vacations, so in these cases, the leave of absence can be planned for in advance, and a travel nurse can be contracted to take over the position until the employee returns to their position.
3. Travel nurses tend to be happier
Advanced Health Care Network for Nurses revealed in a study that travel nurses tend to have a higher rate of job satisfaction than local agency or staff nurses. One reason for this (unsurprising) trend is likely because travel nurses are better able to meet their career goals. Travelers get to live in three or four locations each and every year, avoiding one of their biggest pet peeves – getting stuck in a rut. They also get to learn unique skills at the different hospitals, advancing their knowledge even further. This snowball effect builds in travel nurses the ability to better communicate with a wide variety of patients and health care professionals due to their extensive experience in new situations, giving them an adaptability advantage that staff nurses will rarely experience.
Also, since the very nature of travel nursing allows travelers to avoid common workplace politics, they are more focused on the job at hand and less on the culture of the facility. Less politics makes (nearly) everyone happier. In place of company culture, travel nurses get something that they value even more: a sense of adventure and broadening horizons.
4. Travel nurses are more experienced
Unlike agency nurses, who are confined to one geographic location, travel nurses are better able to accumulate experience and put that knowledge to good use. The aforementioned study found that a high percentage of travel nurses have national certifications, making them highly valuable to hospitals.
Nick Angelis, a former travel nurse and author, told AHCN, “To make it as a travel nurse, you need to possess an intuitive grasp of nursing (a lot of common sense) or have extensive knowledge about various diseases and treatments. I had the latter and found travel nursing to be an efficient way to learn the former.”
That kind of experience counts for a lot in the health care industry. Being able to show this to potential employers means that travel nurses are more likely to be considered for valuable contracts. And later down the line, when travel nurses might be interested in settling into a single position, they’ll find it much easier to land a spot at their ideal health care institution.