How Travel Nursing Can Grow Your Career
Want to give your nursing career a big boost? Consider travel nursing. You can put your education and experience to good use in a healthcare facility that really needs you while you polish your resume and make yourself an extremely desirable candidate for future nursing jobs. Plus, consider all the adventures you can have on your own time!
But how can travel nursing assignments actually help you grow professionally?
Former travel nurse, Lauren J., BSN, RN—now a senior clinical manager at AMN Healthcare who provides support for nurse travelers on a daily basis—shares her perspective.
The transformative experience of travel nursing
Making the move from a staff job to a travel nursing job really transformed the way that Lauren viewed healthcare. Traveling afforded her the opportunity to get a first-person view of different parts of the country, different cultures, even new clinical settings and new patient populations. It opened her mind to new possibilities.
“It really set me up for future success,” she reflects.
And it can set you up for success, too. If you’ve gotten comfortable—maybe a little too comfortable?—in your current job, it could be time to step outside your comfort zone. You can experience both professional and personal growth by taking on a nursing job in a new place with new people.
Expanding your nursing skill set
Travel nurses encounter a variety of clinical scenarios while on assignment. This enables them to acquire new skills and competencies. In fact, many travel nurses are able to pursue new certifications with those additions to their skill set.
You may get to learn how to use new pieces of equipment or gain experience with another type of electronic medical record. You might be able to float to a unit where you have less experience, so you can learn more about that nursing specialty. All the skills you gain will make you a better nurse—and make you more attractive to future employers.
Working with nursing career experts
One of the best things you can do when embarking upon a career in travel nursing is to partner with a reputable staffing agency. You don’t have to figure everything out on your own. Ideally, you want to find a travel nursing agency that’s well-established and has good relationships with a large number of health care organizations, since that means more job openings for you to explore.
For example, AMN Healthcare has been in business for more than 35 years, is certified by The Joint Commission, and is one of the nation’s largest health care staffing agencies. The company’s dedicated travel nurse recruiters and other staff are there to help you every step of the way, from finding the right assignment to finding housing, to getting adjusted to your new workplace.
It is your recruiter’s job to get to know you and help you find the best travel nursing jobs for your specific needs. Recruiters have the connections, and they know the job market well. They are experts at connecting you with work settings that can develop your skills and provide vital, on-the-job experience. They’ll also check in regularly when you start a new job, and keep working to find your next assignment.
AMN Healthcare also has a team of clinical experts who are available around the clock to help you navigate any clinical challenges that you may encounter while on assignment. Lauren serves as part of that team, putting her years of travel nursing experience to work to help other travelers.
“We will support you in any way that we can,” says Lauren.
Building cultural competence
Employers like to see job applicants who understand the value of cultural competence, given the increasing diversity of their patient populations. When you work as a nurse traveler, you can gain exposure to different patient populations and gain that valuable experience.
For example, you can learn how a particular set of religious beliefs or cultural values affect how patients interact with their caregivers. This gives you the chance to not only learn more about them, but also how to help those patients in ways that they understand. Then you can bring that knowledge to future workplaces and help educate others so they can better serve those patients.
Broadening your professional network
If you want to build your professional network, here’s your chance. When you work as a travel nurse, you’ll meet a lot of other healthcare professionals that you simply wouldn’t have known otherwise. Some may become mentors, friends, and/or professional acquaintances and references.
Lauren notes that she met many people and developed connections during her travel nursing career. Technology and social media have made it easy to stay in touch.
“You can stay in touch with the people you’ve met, and then you can check in with them periodically,” she says. “After all, you can really get to know people when you spend a series of 12-hour shifts together.”
Enhancing your resume
When was the last time you updated your nursing resume or online professional profile? A travel nursing assignment provides the chance to enhance both. You can showcase your qualifications by highlighting what you did at each travel nursing assignment, including experience with technology and your ability to work as part of a team.
By the way, travel nurses can gain valuable experience even in smaller hospitals. If a smaller facility has fewer resources, you may have even more opportunities to get your hands dirty, so to speak.
“Showing that you worked in such an environment shows that you are adaptable and flexible, which are qualities that any hiring manager would be glad to see,” says Lauren.
When you work as a travel nurse, you become accustomed to joining a new team. You know that you can move to a new city or walk onto a floor in a hospital you’ve never seen before and make a positive difference. All of that helps you build personal strength and confidence.
“Again, this pushes you out of your comfort zone, which helps you become more resilient,” says Lauren. “And as you become more resilient, you develop more confidence. You become more confident in your skills as a nurse, and that makes you a better caregiver.”
And when new challenges come your way, you’ll be ready to confront them—and conquer them.
Ready to check out your travel nursing options?
If you’re looking for ways to grow professionally, travel nursing may be just the ticket. After all, no other career path can help you develop your nursing skills and confidence or expand your professional network in so many ways.