Andrew Wettengel / Tuesday, May 21, 2019 / Categories: Work World


Wondering if a career as a traveling nurse may be right for you?

If you’re looking for a well-paid, rewarding career that involves helping others — and allows you personal choice and flexibility along the way — you’re on the right track. Further, the need for more qualified U.S. nurses is beyond dispute; for example, the BLS projects demand for RNs will grow 19.4 percent between 2012 and 2022, with the country needing a whopping 3.2 million by 2022. Average travel nurse salaries by state are listed here.

That said, certain personal characteristics and skills are bound to make your job as a travel nurse a more natural fit. While people of all backgrounds, ages and walks of life have had success in such roles, you may be ahead of the game if you’re already inclined toward certain traits.

One of the most important elements you need is a sense of adventure. Because the job involves continually learning new things and reacting to new people, places and circumstances, you must be willing and able to get out of your “comfort zone” and embrace those new experiences.

The good news? For those who are open to adventure, there’s no limit to the things you can discover while travel nursing.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do,” Mark Twain once advised. “So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” To help you decide whether to take the next step, here are a few other top qualities and skills needed to become a successful travel nurse.

  • You’re outgoing and enjoy meeting new people: While nursing is already a people-centered profession, you can expect to meet way more new co-workers, patients, neighbors, roommates, acquaintances and potential friends as a travel nurse. If being around people energizes you rather than drains you, that wealth of people should work in your favor.
  • You’re flexible and adaptable: Of course, the less restrictive you are about where, when and how you’ll be placed on assignment, the easier you can find work as a traveling nurse. And because you’ll be living and working with a wide range of personalities and situations, you’ll need to be at least somewhat easygoing and able to take the unexpected in stride.
  • You like to stay organized: When you’re far away from home and in new surroundings, it’s crucial for you to be able to stay well-organized personally and professionally so you can bring familiarity to unfamiliar surroundings. If you tend to fly by the seat of your pants, you may find yourself constantly discombobulated.
  • You’re emotionally intelligent: To assimilate quickly into each new workplace, you must be perceptive about social and cultural cues that provide important information that may not be provided in the employee handbook. That means remaining self-aware and continually “reading” co-workers and patients so you can understand, empathize and negotiate with them.
  • You’re patient: As a nurse, it’s imperative to maintain empathy and patience when it comes to your patients’ symptoms, questions and idiosyncrasies. As a travel nurse, you must also react calmly if your day-to-day life isn’t exactly how you imagined it. Instead of expecting everything to run smoothly all day every day, you’ll be much better off if you anticipate some hiccups and minor setbacks.
  • You have a strong work ethic: A willingness to work hard without constant supervision is absolutely essential if you wish to maintain good references from supervisors and co-workers. You’re being hired to be of real use to patients and co-workers, but you will quickly lose credibility and the good regard of others if you leave a trail of poor or mediocre performances in your wake.

So what if you don’t have all those traits?

Naturally, you can still have a long, productive career as a traveling nurse if you don’t already have each characteristic. You may have to work harder to cultivate certain skills, but awareness of what you need is half the battle.

You may also be able to adjust your working arrangements so you will be happier in your new role.

“Be who you are,” advises an article on TravelNursingCentral.com. “Everyone is different, and that is beautiful. If you don't really fit the profile of a traveler, you can tailor traveling to fit your personality. You may want to take traveling a little slower … or travel to places that have a consistent need so you can extend your assignments for a longer period of time.

‘Whether you were born to travel or not, taking action can teach you a great deal. The only way to know whether something is for you is to try it.”

Travel nursing can be a great way to gather new experiences, meet new people and bolster your resume with new skills.

If you think you’d make a great traveling nurse and/or want to learn more before going all-in, we’d love to hear from you. Call OneStaff Medical at 877-783-1483.


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