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Interested in travel nursing, but is it for me?

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by MH_RN MH_RN, BSN, RN (New) New Nurse

Specializes in Med/Surg Oncology. Has 3 years experience.

Hello!

I am very interested in travel nursing but I am not sure how to figure out if I'm ready for it or if it's for me. I also have so many questions about traveling and so I have come to you all in the hopes that you can help guide me. Realistically, I'm thinking about starting traveling in about 7-12 months at the earliest. I would like to know what you all think I should do to head in the direction of traveling. How does one know when they're capable of travel nursing? How does one know if they're made for travel nursing before taking the leap?

Here is a little background on me:

So I've been an RN for 2 years on a med/surg oncology floor (really a medical floor with some onc patients and the rare chemo administration) at a small (~200 bed) community hospital right outside of a large city. This is a hospital that I was a volunteer at in high school for 4 years and then a year later started working on the same floor I work on now but as a nursing assistant and was there for 3 years during college. So I've been in the same place with the same people for 5 years, granted only 2 years have been full time. I used to love my floor and my hospital and have the best manager in the world, but as the past year has gone on, I've found more and more that I don't like about where I am. COVID has truly shown me that I need a change from my coworkers and workplace. Though, I'm worried that my facility is so small that I may start traveling and I might not have broad enough knowledge to be able to work anywhere and everywhere there is an assignment. Would going to a big medical center be impossible and not in my best interests?

I have a BSN and have taken the ONS chemo/immunotherapy course, but (d/t COVID) have never given chemo/immunotherapy. I have a decent amount of telemetry knowledge, but we really don't take care of true cardiac patients. My floor is the kind of floor that maybe gives IV metoprolol a few times a month and we don't touch IV dilt or anything similar, those would have to go to our PCU or ICU. We also really don't take surgical patients, unless it's someone who had been with us and had a toe or 2 amputated or a lap cholecystectomy. My coworkers are known to call the surgical floor RNs or the surgical PAs to drop NGTs, as we have so few of them. Very rarely do we see chest tubes. My hospital has an IV team who does IVs, but pre-COVID I planned on being trained on IVs and was unable to during this time. I plan on taking the CMSRN within the next few months. I have not done charge, but at my facility the charge also has an assignment. I do not have my ACLS, only BLS. My floor gets LOTS of hospice patients and I have a pretty good handle on CMO care and medications. My floor, as many others, was a COVID floor from the beginning of April until mid-June (and hopefully never again), so I do have a decent familiarity with respiratory patients. I have minimal Meditech experience (2 years of my nursing assistant years and 0 nursing time with it) and am very comfortable with EPIC.

Also, how exactly do the taxed/non-taxed stipends work when you live with your parents and they do not make you pay rent. Do you still get housing and meal stipends? Do you just get more taxes taken out or do you not get those stipends?

What are your must haves in a contract? What are things to look out for in a bad contract?

Thank you so much in advance!

18 hours ago, MH_RN said:

How does one know if they're made for travel nursing before taking the leap?

 Also, how exactly do the taxed/non-taxed stipends work when you live with your parents and they do not make you pay rent. Do you still get housing and meal stipends? Do you just get more taxes taken out or do you not get those stipends?

If you like new challenges and new everything every three months for one. The way to check if you are capable of adapting to new everything and hitting the ground running with minimal orientation before hand is to try agency per diem. Drive a couple hours to the next city if you have to.

Personally, I think this meets the IRS tests for tax home. But some (or at least one well known travel specialist) tax preparers think not. You can certainly make a darned good argument if you are audited. Again, my personal opinion. Not suggesting you cheat on purpose, but audit rates are very low and you have a good case. Unlikely to be penalized in an audit.

MH_RN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg Oncology. Has 3 years experience.

23 hours ago, NedRN said:

If you like new challenges and new everything every three months for one. The way to check if you are capable of adapting to new everything and hitting the ground running with minimal orientation before hand is to try agency per diem. Drive a couple hours to the next city if you have to.

Personally, I think this meets the IRS tests for tax home. But some (or at least one well known travel specialist) tax preparers think not. You can certainly make a darned good argument if you are audited. Again, my personal opinion. Not suggesting you cheat on purpose, but audit rates are very low and you have a good case. Unlikely to be penalized in an audit.

Thank you so much! I'll definitely look into agency per diem. There are more than 5 large hospitals within a 15 mile radius of me and a few smaller within that 15 miles and a little further.

I hope so! I mean I've lived here for 20+ years but it just isn't something I pay for. I just don't want to get hit with tax issues later when this is really where I call home.

Seems to me your situation applies. I've thought for many years that there could be some nurses in such a situation. You are the first I've had confirmed that was interested in travel nursing. Good spot!

It should also apply to a trust kid, where the inheritance pays for or owns the housing. Of course, that person wouldn't care about compensation or taxes.

Swellz

Specializes in oncology, MS/tele/stepdown. Has 6 years experience.

I want to echo Ned's advice about agency or at least being a pool nurse before traveling. I only had one nursing job before traveling, and I had no idea how small my world was. Your concern is that your hospital is too small to give you a wide variety of experiences - my hospital was a large, teaching facility, with lots of resources, and I saw a lot of stuff, but when I went to small community hospitals where so much more is done by nurses, I was totally out of my element. The more you see beforehand the better off you will be!

I would not worry about your skill set per se - just be honest about what you have experience with and work with a recruiter to find a job that fits. From a chemo perspective, there were a couple hospitals I worked at that were super impressed that I had a chemo card, but wouldn't sign me off to give chemo because of liability or staffing reasons. Again, just be honest; it is enough to say you have worked in an oncology environment and are familiar with chemo, but do not administer it and wouldn't be comfortable administering it without proper training on that facility's protocols. They will probably have travelers or applicants who have no oncology experience anyway, so don't undersell yourself just because you don't give chemo.