Travel nurse during summer break?

  1. Anyone have any experience with it? After our big trip to Alaska this summer we're trying to figure out how we can spend lots of time in locations that we fall in love with without giving up our cushy 9 to 5 jobs most of the year.

    I'm trying to land a local contract position for next summer just to try it on for size.
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  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   River Song, RN
    I worked as a travel nurse from 2006 - 2008 and STILL get called by recruiters even though I haven't traveled in years. I think the biggest potential problem is if your full time job hasn't been in acute care, you might have problems finding a contract. I know there are travel nurse boards out there that are great for getting information on the current travel market. I stopped in 2008 because the contracts dried up in my specialty nationwide and most of my NICU travel friends had to take staff jobs somewhere.

    Working in NICU, hospitals wanted 2 years of recent experience before they would hire you on a contract. My friends who travelled in med/surg could get contracts with only one year of recent experience. If you've routinely worked on the side in acute care, it would probably work but you would have to talk to a recruiter to know for sure.

    Most travel contracts with the big companies are 13 weeks in duration so if you planned properly and made your plans in advance, it would work if your summer is long enough. Just be aware that travel contracts are always full time, many times you don't get any choice in picking your schedule and you have to pay taxes on your hourly rate and your housing stipend. Often times in many desirable locations (like Colorado and Hawaii) you aren't making much after Uncle Sam takes their cut. People think travelers are getting rich and while some do quite well, I know in Denver I made less as a traveler than I would have as a staff nurse in that location but I went for the location not the money.
  4. by   KKEGS
    Quote from River Song, RN
    I worked as a travel nurse from 2006 - 2008 and STILL get called by recruiters even though I haven't traveled in years. I think the biggest potential problem is if your full time job hasn't been in acute care, you might have problems finding a contract. I know there are travel nurse boards out there that are great for getting information on the current travel market. I stopped in 2008 because the contracts dried up in my specialty nationwide and most of my NICU travel friends had to take staff jobs somewhere.

    Working in NICU, hospitals wanted 2 years of recent experience before they would hire you on a contract. My friends who travelled in med/surg could get contracts with only one year of recent experience. If you've routinely worked on the side in acute care, it would probably work but you would have to talk to a recruiter to know for sure.

    Most travel contracts with the big companies are 13 weeks in duration so if you planned properly and made your plans in advance, it would work if your summer is long enough. Just be aware that travel contracts are always full time, many times you don't get any choice in picking your schedule and you have to pay taxes on your hourly rate and your housing stipend. Often times in many desirable locations (like Colorado and Hawaii) you aren't making much after Uncle Sam takes their cut. People think travelers are getting rich and while some do quite well, I know in Denver I made less as a traveler than I would have as a staff nurse in that location but I went for the location not the money.
    Does it help that I still work NICU as an agency nurse? I left my FT NICU job to become a school nurse but then signed with a staffing agency to still pick up shifts in order to keep my skills up.
  5. by   River Song, RN
    Quote from KKEGS
    Does it help that I still work NICU as an agency nurse? I left my FT NICU job to become a school nurse but then signed with a staffing agency to still pick up shifts in order to keep my skills up.
    I honestly don't know how that would be looked on by a potential employer. The better NICUs usually had fairly strict criteria for who they wanted to bring in on contract - mainly because you get at most two shifts of orientation (usually it was just one) so they wanted you to be able to walk in and function independently. For example, I remember one contract wanted 3 years of experience, some places wouldn't take a nurse without high frequency vent experience, occasionally I saw where you had to have attended deliveries etc. Most units had very specific things in mind for what they wanted of their travelers as it is generally a pretty big staffing expense to take on. For most of my contracts, I was given sick, vented patients just like everyone else on their staff from day one. I only had one contract where they only gave me growers (which was super frustrating). My gut is thinking that most hiring managers would want a traveler with full time recent experience vs. PRN recent experience in a specialty like NICU all other things being equal. If there is a good supply of travelers, it can get competitive. I learned to always answer my phone as a manager will hire the first traveler who has the skill set they need that says yes and one time I missed out on a great contract as by the time I woke up and heard my voice mail, the position was filled.

    Of course, my personal travel knowledge is from almost 10 years ago though I still have friends that do it. I'd highly recommend finding a travel forum and asking current folks their opinion. I had a great recruiter, but many of them won't be honest and/or simply don't understand the real world enough to answer truthfully on how marketable you would really be.
  6. by   Alex Egan
    Most summer camps are screaming for nurses. The pay isn't fantastic, and you have to be careful you don't get stuck as an on camp prisoner, but the locations and people are generally amazing!
  7. by   AdobeRN
    I wish I had more adult ER/ICU experience - I would totally agree to work a summer in Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier NP ETc.
  8. by   Farawyn
    Quote from River Song, RN
    I worked as a travel nurse from 2006 - 2008 and STILL get called by recruiters even though I haven't traveled in years. I think the biggest potential problem is if your full time job hasn't been in acute care, you might have problems finding a contract. I know there are travel nurse boards out there that are great for getting information on the current travel market. I stopped in 2008 because the contracts dried up in my specialty nationwide and most of my NICU travel friends had to take staff jobs somewhere.

    Working in NICU, hospitals wanted 2 years of recent experience before they would hire you on a contract. My friends who travelled in med/surg could get contracts with only one year of recent experience. If you've routinely worked on the side in acute care, it would probably work but you would have to talk to a recruiter to know for sure.

    Most travel contracts with the big companies are 13 weeks in duration so if you planned properly and made your plans in advance, it would work if your summer is long enough. Just be aware that travel contracts are always full time, many times you don't get any choice in picking your schedule and you have to pay taxes on your hourly rate and your housing stipend. Often times in many desirable locations (like Colorado and Hawaii) you aren't making much after Uncle Sam takes their cut. People think travelers are getting rich and while some do quite well, I know in Denver I made less as a traveler than I would have as a staff nurse in that location but I went for the location not the money.
    Great info, thanks. I was interested in this as well. Now, not so much.
  9. by   River Song, RN
    Quote from Alex Egan
    Most summer camps are screaming for nurses. The pay isn't fantastic, and you have to be careful you don't get stuck as an on camp prisoner, but the locations and people are generally amazing!
    I like the idea of being held prisoner - I bet it is often like that!
    Is I didn't have littles at home, I would grab a camp job for summer, or at least a few weeks of it.
  10. by   Alex Egan
    My camp hired nannies for staff children. It's jist one more employee to hire for them, no big deal if you sign the contract early enough. My son had the same nannies as the directors and my boss.
  11. by   kidzcare
    Quote from Alex Egan
    Most summer camps are screaming for nurses. The pay isn't fantastic, and you have to be careful you don't get stuck as an on camp prisoner, but the locations and people are generally amazing!
    Quote from River Song, RN
    I like the idea of being held prisoner - I bet it is often like that!
    Is I didn't have littles at home, I would grab a camp job for summer, or at least a few weeks of it.
    I had a great experience last year as a camp nurse! My kids are all camp ages so they were able to attend while I worked there. I was contacted by a bunch of camps after I registered on a camp nurse website and I'm so glad I went with the camp I chose! Very well run, doctor on site, plenty of nurses so I was not working more than 8 hours a day. During my off time I got to do whatever I wanted. I didn't have to go home and parent (single mom) 3 children or cook meals or clean a house. I hiked a bunch, read 4 books while I was there, watched Netflix on my computer. We are going back next summer and plan to continue to go back each summer for as long as my kids enjoy it. They talk about their time at camp all the time and can't wait to return!

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