Whether you’re a new nurse or an experienced veteran, you’ve likely heard all about the perks of travel nursing.
Generally, travel nurses are happy in their roles, reporting better compensation and higher job satisfaction than their permanent counterparts, but are travel nurses really as happy as they seem?
Read on to learn about the factors that contribute to travel nurse job satisfaction as well as the potential challenges that they face during each new work assignment.
Table of Contents
- Are Traveling Nurses Happy?
- What Makes Travel Nurses So Happy?
- Challenges Travel Nursing May Pose and How To Overcome Them
- Find Your Happiness With the Help of Trusted Nurse Staffing
Are Traveling Nurses Happy?
Yes! According to a survey conducted in 2023, 76% of travel nurses surveyed reported higher satisfaction than they had with their former staff position.
Most travel nurses are drawn to the profession by the higher compensation, better benefits, and greater flexibility that come with the job. However, there are several other factors to look forward to if you’re considering making the switch from your permanent position.
What Makes Travel Nurses So Happy?
So, what exactly drives high rates of travel nurse job satisfaction?
The top motivators reported for travel nurses include:
- Compensation and benefits: 76%
- Job flexibility: 67%
- Sense of adventure: 32%
- Work-life balance: 32%
- Less stress over workplace politics: 26%
Below, we’ll explain what makes each of these factors rank so highly for satisfaction criteria.
ZipRecruiter reports that travel nurses earn $105,021 in annual income on average, higher than the $90,901 average salary for registered nurses. However, your salary as a travel nurse may vary depending on your facility, education, experience, or state.
Currently, the five states with the highest salaries for travel nurses include:
- New York – $128,277 per year
- New Jersey – $110,831 per year
- Wisconson – $110,128 per year
- Nevada – $109,193 per year
- Wyoming – $109,177 per year
Not only are travel nurses happy earning higher pay, but they typically receive additional compensation, reimbursements, and tax benefits, including:
- Non-taxable pay: The “tax-advantaged plan” allows some travel nurse contracts to include non-taxable per-diems, stipends, and reimbursements for lodging, travel, and meals.
- Bonuses: Travel nurses may be offered completion bonuses, referral bonuses, sign-on bonuses, extension bonuses, or bonuses for accepting undesirable or high-demand assignments.
- Overtime pay: Besides your contracted hourly rate, some travel nurse companies offer overtime pay. The rate of overtime pay can be negotiated but is typically time and a half of your base salary.
- Insurance: Agencies typically offer health, vision, and dental insurance to travel nurses.
If you’re looking to maximize your compensation and benefits, Trusted Nurse Staffing is here to help. We offer:
- Competitive pay with tons of bonus opportunities
- 401(k) with 4% match after 1,000 hours and a year of employment
- Flexible contracts
- Housing, meal, and travel stipends
- Health, vision, and dental insurance
- License, certification and CEU reimbursement
- 24/7 access to a support team
- Perks, rewards and nurse swag
Ready to start your dream job? Use Pronto to search for the best contracts available and subscribe to be the first to know about new opportunities.
Freedom and Flexibility
If you’re searching for a flexible career, travel nursing may be the perfect choice. With an average contract length of 13 weeks, travel nursing enables you to experience a wide variety of new cities, people, and work environments over a relatively short period.
And the best part?
You get to choose which contracts you take on and the length of time off between those contracts — plus you can negotiate the terms of each one to fit your specific needs.
Freedom and flexibility in a role not only improve job satisfaction but have been shown to affect performance and mental health as well.
According to a study conducted by Atlassian, only 14% of workers in flexible roles reported experiencing burnout, compared to 36% who had no flexibility in their roles. The same study found that positions with greater flexibility resulted in improved morale in organizational culture and promoted greater innovation.
Sense of Adventure
As newer generations enter the workforce, we’ve seen a decline in the popularity of 9-5 office desk jobs. Instead, millennials and Gen Z are shown to prefer jobs with greater variety, flexibility, and freedom.
A 2016 survey found that approximately seventy percent of millennials identify travel as the most important deciding factor for their careers.
Travel nursing is perhaps one of the greatest options for those looking to satisfy their sense of adventure. Not only do nurses get the opportunity to choose a new city for each contract, but they also get to live in — and fully experience — their chosen city for a full 13-week period. Travel nurses can use their free time to explore the city, try the best restaurants, visit nearby attractions, and become fully immersed in the local culture.
Achieving proper work-life balance can go a long way toward improving job satisfaction, maintaining good mental health, and preventing burnout. In fact, work-life balance is a key factor in career choice for most of the population.
One of the benefits of travel nursing is the ability to negotiate your schedule during your contract. If you’re looking for more free time, you may be able to negotiate for a 3-day work week, leaving the rest of your time for relaxing, taking care of personal obligations, or exploring your new city.
Travel nurses are also able to choose how much time off is needed in between contracts. If you anticipate needing a couple of days, a couple of weeks, or a couple of months off before moving to your next assignment, you are free to do so. This aspect is especially beneficial around the holiday season. Most workers may only receive one or two off around the winter holidays, but travel nurses can take as much time off as necessary to spend quality time with their loved ones.
The Ability to Focus on Patients, Not Politics
Registered nurses and other permanent staff at a healthcare facility may find themselves wrapped up in the “politics” of the workplace. They may find the constant change in policy and procedures to be frustrating, ultimately affecting their overall happiness and job satisfaction.
As a travel nurse, you’re used to acclimating to new facilities, procedures, policies, and staff. A new change within the facility you’re contracted with will likely not influence your job as it will with the permanent staff. The lack of stress while you work can greatly improve your ability to focus on the patients
Challenges Travel Nursing May Pose and How To Overcome Them
While rates of travel nurse job satisfaction are among the highest in the healthcare industry, every career has its downsides. Experiencing new locations, staff, and facilities can be vastly rewarding, but the majority of travel nurses inevitably experience feelings of loneliness or stress.
Here are some of the most common struggles that travel nurses experience during their careers and some constructive methods for coping with them.
Always Being the New Nurse
One of the greatest benefits of travel nursing is having the ability to experience more variety than you would in a staffed position. However, the rotating door of new facilities, positions, faces, and policies can take a toll on even the most confident and flexible travel nurse over time.
Take Your Time When Acclimating
Remember that while consistently starting over in a new place with a new staff and a new set of rules is completely normal for you, it’s still a stressful experience.
Allow yourself time to acclimate to your new environment fully. Take some time to decorate your home, explore the city, or do some self-care activities. You’ll have plenty of time to make friends and get the hang of your role over the remainder of your contract.
Contracts last around 13 weeks on average and may take you thousands of miles away from your home. The transient and demanding nature of travel nursing might make it challenging to spend quality time with the friends and family you love.
Reach Out and Make New Friends
If you’re feeling lonely, remember that your coworkers may be feeling lonely, too. Each new assignment brings ample opportunity to form new connections, and a great way to start is by expressing an interest in hanging out. You may be invited to tag along for a hike or join a game night that enables you to make friends that can support you through the length of your contract and beyond.
Navigating Offers, Assignments, and Paperwork
Choosing a career as a travel nurse brings an onslaught of inevitable opportunities, contracts, paperwork, and onboarding processes. Repeating these processes for each new contract can quickly become overwhelming and stressful for any travel nurse.
Spend Time Researching
Each assignment deal can drastically affect your happiness during the contract. It’s important to research assignments before jumping at the first available opportunity.
Thankfully, there are some helpful resources travel nurses can take advantage of when searching for new opportunities.
You can use search tools such as Pronto to help filter through available opportunities, for example, and save yourself from becoming overwhelmed by undesirable offers later on.
Lack of Support or Communication From Travel Nursing Recruiters
As you begin your journey as a travel nurse, you’re bound to run into some good — and some not-so-good — recruiters.
Unfortunately, many agencies hide their recruiters’ red flags, making it easy for new travel nurses to get stuck with a recruiter who fails to provide the support they need. When you’re trying to navigate the world of assignments, negotiations, housing, and more the last thing you want is to find yourself stranded when you need your recruiter’s guidance the most.
Carefully Choose Your Travel Nurse Staffing Agency
Nurse staffing is a competitive industry, and the best agencies hold their recruiters to the highest standards.
Here are some green flags to look for in a company to ensure you have the smoothest transition into the world of travel nursing:
- Quality recruiters: A great recruiter can make a significant difference in your success as a travel nurse. Look for agencies known for having a trustworthy, supportive, and responsive team. Research their recruiters’ reviews and experience and conduct “interviews” to ensure you’ve found your best match.
- Assignment variety: Agencies with ample and diverse opportunities are more likely to match you with the best assignments. Be sure to research your prospective agency’s contract volume, available locations, and options within your specialty.
- Compensation packages: Most travel nurse agencies offer countless benefits beyond the average base pay. During your search for an agency, compare pay rates, insurance options, bonuses, stipends, and other benefits advertised.
- Great reputation: An accredited, long-standing agency is far more likely to secure the ideal contracts for travel nurses. Look for agencies that are established, accredited, and award-winning in the industry.
Find Your Happiness With the Help of Trusted Nurse Staffing
Whether you’re new to healthcare or are just looking for a change of pace, Trusted Nurse Staffing can help you navigate the world of travel nursing like a pro.
Our trusted team of recruiters works closely with travel nurses to help them secure the assignments they love and the compensation they deserve.
Ready to take the next step to becoming a travel nurse?
Contact Trusted Nurse Staffing, or get started today using Pronto to search for the perfect assignment.