Is It Time to Stop Being a Travel Nurse? Here Are Four Things to Consider
By Thomas Jurbala
Did you become a travel nurse at the beginning of the pandemic? With travel nurse wages rising an average of 25 percent in April 2020, it’s not hard to see why! The opportunity to earn more money, travel, and help out in truly desperate situations made travel nursing an amazing option for many nurses.
Now that the pandemic is slowing down and the benefits and pay for travel nursing are waning, is it still worth it? It depends on your lifestyle, but in many cases, choosing to dedicate yourself to one healthcare facility is the very best choice for your short-term pay, your long-term career, and even your sense of well-being. Being a nurse dedicated to one healthcare facility can:
- Put you on a great trajectory for career growth
- Give you more meaningful perks
- Set you up for long-term learning
- Give you a comforting sense of family
Let’s break it down:
Get on a Great Trajectory for Career Growth
When you work at one facility with one area of specialty, you’re able to dive deep into your area of expertise and become an indispensable part of your team. This means you feel more confident, your coworkers can rely on you more, and your managers take note.
“As someone in management, I really appreciate having nurses who have stayed in one setting for years as opposed to those who have moved around,” says Edwin Cabigao, PhD, RN, director of clinical services at Generations Healthcare. “Typically, nurses who have stayed at least two or three years retain and add greater value to what they learn. They are going to stand out more as people to mentor and promote.”
Receive More Meaningful Perks
“There are perks for those who have shown dedication and loyalty,” Cabigao says. “Tuition reimbursement, scholarship to conferences—we tend to award these to people who have stayed with us and will stay with us.”
Set Yourself Up to Learn Long Term
Your mindset is one of the biggest differences you may notice between working as a traveling nurse as opposed to being a dedicated nurse at one facility.
“If you set your mind to working in one facility, with no deadline, your mindset toward learning is more progressive and organized,” Cabigao says. “You take your time to absorb what you’re learning and are more likely to retain it.”
Plus, as you learn and make mistakes (which is only natural!), your long-term teammates know you and can better support you along the journey.
Have a Comforting Sense of Family
“For my PhD, I wrote my dissertation on why nurses stay in nursing homes. The common denominator is that sense of family,” Cabigao says. “You don’t see that in acute care settings.”
The difference between acute care and long-term care settings is similar to the difference between travel nursing and dedicated nursing. In an acute care setting, there are a lot of interns, registry nurses, and other roles coming and going all the time, and you see new faces all the time, much like you do as a traveling nurse. Working in long-term care, by contrast, you see the same staff and residents every day. You feel a sense of family as you grow together, much like you do when you choose to stay in one facility long term.
“I worked in one organization for nine years, where over 25 percent of the staff has been there for over 20 years!” Cabigao says. “They had pictures of when they first started; their kids grew up together and are now adults. In long-term care settings, you get recognition for dedication and loyalty that is rare in other settings like acute care hospitals.”
Travel nursing definitely has its perks, but now that the benefits and pay for travel nursing are waning, it may be time to choose one facility to call home. Doing so can help you get on a great trajectory for career growth, receive more meaningful perks, set yourself up to learn long-term, and have a comforting sense of family.
To see examples of the benefits that are available for staff nurses in skilled nursing facilities, visit lifegen.net/career. Have more questions about travel nursing vs. being a dedicated nurse at one facility? Feel free to send your questions to Edwin Cabigao at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thomas Jurbala is the director of project development at Generations Healthcare, with 30 years of experience in building and program development in skilled nursing, assisted living, memory care and behavioral health facilities. He holds a master’s degree in international business from Loyola Marymount University and a bachelor’s degree in business from Purdue University.