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Travel Nursing:  How to Decide on the Right Location for Your Next Assignment

Published by Administrator On 19 Dec, 2018

The number of places you can go in the U.S. for a travel assignment is huge. The possibilities are endless.  Yet when the reality of searching for the best location begins, you may find that the place you dreamed of going to doesn’t have the options you hoped for due to competition, availability or the pay.  Choosing a destination tends to involve finding a balance of several different variables.

One of the biggest deciding factors is the location specific stipend and hourly wages for a facility.  Lets face it, most travel nurses are enticed into this specific lifestyle for the great pay and freedom to explore.  If money is a priority, it may be impractical to move to some of the country’s most expensive cities where the cost of living will quickly eat into your paycheck.  This is where doing a little foot work on the cost of living (food, rentals- HYPERLINK to housing options article, parking, gas, etc) can help you decide if an offer and location are right for you.  With the cost of a rental most likely being the biggest cost, having a site like Transplant Housing to reference can quickly give you can idea of what you can afford.

Travel nurses must also keep in mind what states they are licensed in and whether they want to apply for further licensure.  Most travel companies will reimburse you; it’s just a matter of paperwork and red tape.  Your company may encourage you to apply for an Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact that will give you immediate working availability in over 25 states. 

As a nurse you will have your specialties, past experience and preferences for the type of facility you want to work in as well.  If you are very specialized in your field, the facility prefers someone with experience in a specific area, or you simply want to be picky with where you will work this can immediately limit options.  It is important to keep in mind keep your skill level and how comfortable you are with taking on new and different responsibilities from what you used are to.  Some nurses will thrive in a new setting while other will want to avoid it due to feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

Lastly, who is traveling with you may determine the optimal location choice. Whether it’s kids/family, a significant other, a fellow travel companion or pets, they may all have opinions on what location will fit them best as well.  Discussing the options and making sure everyone is on the same page will help you make the best decision. 

Keep these key points in mind as a check list with each assignment:

  • Cost of living in a specific region vs. stipend offered
  • Preference of rural vs. city setting
  • Current nurse licensure and difficulty of getting licensed in each state (this varies)
  • What type of activities you would like to have available (museums, outdoor recreation, etc)
  • Preference of whether it’s close to family and friends
  • Ease of travel to a destination (driving, flying, etc.)
  • What season you will be on site

No matter what you decide, it’s important to find a good travel company with established relationships with their clientele so that your recruiter can give you superb recommendations.  Ultimately, don’t take a job you know you will hate just because it’s in the right location or pays what you want; it’s not worth the stress when there are so many options.  Find a balance that optimizes your own quality of life in addition to your patients’

Once you’ve chosen a location, don’t forget to check out our packing list here (hyperlink when complete)!

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