Travel RN to New FNP - Is it worth it?

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by SublimeEMTP SublimeEMTP (New) New

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I'm a brand new FNP. Just passed boards, interviewing this week for multiple positions. Background is paramedic, ER nursing, flight nurse, and now travel RN in the ER. I am really struggling with the financial aspect of this change.

I am currently making about $3400/week working only 3 day shifts/week. This is a travel contract but I make the drive about 1hr 20 mins each day I work so I can get the travel pay (50 miles from your home or farther to qualify).

The money is nice, and the 4 days off a week is really nice, but I pretty much dread going to work. I am very burned out as far as bedside nursing goes. I'm tired of the usually short staffed days, 12 hours of stress and being behind on tasks, the monotony of the tasks each day (get an IV, label things, send it, get EKG, help patient to bathroom, beg for urine sample on everyone, hang antibiotics, rinse and repeat for 12 hours). I feel like I shouldn't complain because I am being paid nicely and I only work 3 days a week, but I don't enjoy the days I do work.

The NP job I interviewed for yesterday asked my pay expectations. I said $65/hr at least because that is what my base travel RN pay is (without my travel stipends, which I know I can't expect from a local NP job). They said $65 is the top pay they offer across the board for the position and would likely not be able to do that for a new grad. I have seen some positions offering around $45-55/hr on indeed for FNPs (Texas). I expected a pay cut to some degree because I am starting a new career essentially, but man I didn't think it would be this steep. A place today offered me a salaried job at 105,000 per year which they say is higher than they normally offer new grads because of my resume. I honestly don't think I could afford my current life with that (15 year mortgage based on previous RN earnings of 130K/year).

My question to all of you is, is it worth it? Am I looking at this the wrong way? Did anyone else in a similar scenario find a huge relief when they started an outpatient NP position and got away from the bedside and did not regret taking a pay cut? I am honestly stressed right now thinking about it. I spent a year working extremely hard (stayed full time at my flight RN position working 48 hours a week and did full time clinical hours) thinking there would be a pay off in the end. But all of the work and school dollars spent.... for a significant pay cut.

Thank you for any advice.

jillk1552

jillk1552

3 Posts

Honestly, I don’t recommend going to NP school. It is more work, more responsibility often times for less money. As a bedside nurse you work you shift and go home, as an NP the work follows you. My opinion, stick with travel nursing 

SublimeEMTP

SublimeEMTP

7 Posts

10 hours ago, jillk1552 said:

Honestly, I don’t recommend going to NP school. It is more work, more responsibility often times for less money. As a bedside nurse you work you shift and go home, as an NP the work follows you. My opinion, stick with travel nursing 

Unfortunately there wasn't anyone to tell me that a few years ago before I started this journey. In early 2019 when I started all the NPs I talked to said it was worth it. This was pre-covid, nursing pay had not skyrocketed, I don't think the market was quiet as diluted. Too late now though, I've already done it.

FullGlass

FullGlass, BSN, MSN, NP

Specializes in Adult and Geriatric Primary Care. Has 4 years experience. 2 Articles; 1,403 Posts

You have to decide what is more important to you:  short term $ or long term career prospects, plus a job you will like better.

Do some research on FNP earnings in Texas for experienced NPs, so you get an idea of your long-term earning prospects.  After at least 1 year of FNP experience, you might want to specialize, and specialty NPs typically make more, so explore some specialties of interest.

Also, don't just look at gross earning.  Travel NPs have no benefits.  Benefits like vacation, insurance, etc., are worth something!  Employer-paid health insurance is worth $330 to $700 per month that you don't have to pay!  In addition, employes pay for additional training, like CME.

I'm going to assume you are young, so let's say you pay $500 per month for decent health insurance as a travel RN.  If your employer paid $400 per month of that, that is $4800 per year!  Also if you get 2 weeks of paid time off per year, what is that worth?  So you can actually do some math.

The real estate market is hot now.  So you can consider refinanching to a 30 year mortgage or even relocating.  I suggest you do research on where NPs can make the most $ in Texas and elsewhere in the US.   

Good luck.

Tegridy

Tegridy

Specializes in Former NP now Internal medicine PGY-3. 495 Posts

If you don't think that not getting a job right out of school will hurt you, you could always travel for another year or two then get a job. A lot of outpatient specialties are still hit from all the covid stuff since people aren't getting out as much.

Tony1790

Tony1790, BSN, MSN, NP

Specializes in Rheumatology/Emergency Medicine. Has 13 years experience. 216 Posts

I’ve seen travel RN here in WA state advertising $130 an hour, I’ve been an NP right at 5 years now and I work for a federal agency and just got a pay raise to $60/hr, $46 he when I first started in 2017, I work in Rheumatology, my RN pay rate would be $54/hr here which is less but the only thing I would have to do is take vitals and a few IM injections at my outpatient clinic 

Financial going NP vs RN travel, expect to make less than you are now. 

I worked PRN in the ED as an NP for my first few years here, I made as much on the weekend 2 days with OT and differential as I did all week in my regular job, saved up quite a bit of cash that way

sarena33

sarena33

22 Posts

I am in the exact same boat as you.  I make REALLY good money working in the bay area as a travel nurse, I just graduated from NP school and I'm now looking for an NP job.  The only difference for me is that I moved to California to be a travel nurse and I'm bored and lonely because I don't know anyone here.  Something that I'm not sure you've thought about is the fact that legally, you can't continue to be a travel nurse in the same region for longer than a year.  So technically, after one year of working in that city/region, you'd have to move. You could try to get away with not doing that, but if you ever got audited you'd likely get in trouble with the IRS.  So, basically what I'm saying is that, the travel RN thing is not sustainable unless you want to keep moving around every year. I need to live in a place where I can put down some roots. I don't enjoy worrying about a new job/finding a new place to live every 3 months (or even every year).

For me, I'd prefer to take the pay cut (and receive better benefits as a previous post noted), and have better quality of life, live in one one location.  I also feel like I will enjoy the work I do as an FNP more than what I do as an RN, but that's just me. I'm excited for a new career path. Just some things to think about!! Good luck!

FullGlass

FullGlass, BSN, MSN, NP

Specializes in Adult and Geriatric Primary Care. Has 4 years experience. 2 Articles; 1,403 Posts

Something else to consider is that it is not good to wait too long from graduating to actually becoming an NP.  Employers generally won't like that.  You also have to consider losing your NP certification after a certain period.  I would say travel nursing is OK for up to 1 year, but if you really want to be an NP, I wouldn't do the travel RN for more than 1 year unless you just want to go back to being an RN.

Numenor

Specializes in rounding on the floors probably. Has 10 years experience. 555 Posts

Ah yes the crux issue of wanting the big bennies but also the title of provider. You won't have both right now. NP pay sucks especially considering what travel nurses get. In my job, I am interchangeable with an MD with little oversight and I make far less than a travel nurse. Nice...

This travel nurse gravy train won't last forever. It is not sustainable. But the farther out you get from NP the less desirable you will be.

NPs are in overstocked supply, so you are going to have to deal with allll those burned-out nurses who went to NP school thinking it would be easier. You will NEVER make that 130 an hour travel money some are getting.

You are going to need to decide what you want. I will say if you choose to work as an NP, get used to a lower salary. Negotiating for something close to traveler pay is not going to be fruitful. They will go with someone else every time.

 

On 1/9/2022 at 7:04 PM, sarena33 said:

I am in the exact same boat as you.  I make REALLY good money working in the bay area as a travel nurse, I just graduated from NP school and I'm now looking for an NP job.  The only difference for me is that I moved to California to be a travel nurse and I'm bored and lonely because I don't know anyone here.  Something that I'm not sure you've thought about is the fact that legally, you can't continue to be a travel nurse in the same region for longer than a year.  So technically, after one year of working in that city/region, you'd have to move. You could try to get away with not doing that, but if you ever got audited you'd likely get in trouble with the IRS.  So, basically what I'm saying is that, the travel RN thing is not sustainable unless you want to keep moving around every year. I need to live in a place where I can put down some roots. I don't enjoy worrying about a new job/finding a new place to live every 3 months (or even every year).

For me, I'd prefer to take the pay cut (and receive better benefits as a previous post noted), and have better quality of life, live in one one location.  I also feel like I will enjoy the work I do as an FNP more than what I do as an RN, but that's just me. I'm excited for a new career path. Just some things to think about!! Good luck!

Hello. Interesting post. But can you please elaborate on your statement that "legally, you can't continue to be a travel nurse in the same region for longer than a year." To what law are you referring? Also, why would the IRS care where you work, as long as you pay your taxes?  Thanks.  

FullGlass

FullGlass, BSN, MSN, NP

Specializes in Adult and Geriatric Primary Care. Has 4 years experience. 2 Articles; 1,403 Posts

11 hours ago, Looking Forward said:

But can you please elaborate on your statement that "legally, you can't continue to be a travel nurse in the same region for longer than a year." To what law are you referring? Also, why would the IRS care where you work, as long as you pay your taxes?  Thanks.  

This is for state income tax.  If you work longer than 1 year in a state, you have to pay that state's taxes.  I'm not sure, but you may also have to pay taxes in the state of your legal residence.  Check with your accountant.

I agree that state income taxation rules are complicated and that it is wise to get advice from a tax accountant or tax lawyer. I would be particularly leery about relying on a one year rule, as I am not aware of any state that has such a rule. In fact, depending on the state and the specific facts, state income tax liability could attach much quicker than one year. 

Forty one states and the District of Columbia tax income of residents. One universal trigger of state income tax liability in these states is if the individual is "domiciled" in the state, meaning that the person maintains a residence within the state with an intent to remain indefinitely or, if the individual is absent from that residence, intends to return to that residence in the future.  I am not aware of any state where domicile depends on the passage of any particular time period; rather, in most and maybe all states, someone who establishes a residence in a new state with the intent to remain in that state indefinitely is immediately domiciled in the new state. 

Some states also find an individual who is not domiciled in the state nevertheless to be a “statutory resident” of the state (and therefore liable for state income taxes) if they spend a certain amount of time in the state during a particular tax year. 183 days is a common trigger but some states have different thresholds (e.g., 6 months, 200 days, 9 months.) Some states have other rules for when an individual becomes liable for state income taxes.

Although there are exceptions, a worker normally must pay non-resident income taxes for the state in which they work (assuming that the state imposes such taxes) and resident income taxes for the state in which they live. Fortunately, many states treat taxes paid to one state as a "credit" for taxes owed to the other state. But it is important to know the law and claim the credit. You don't want to be in the situation where you pay one state and then a different state subsequently makes a claim for its taxes.