What do travel nurses do and some differences from travel nurses

Traveling the world while working? Who does that? Travel nurses! Sounds great, right? However, one must be realistic too.


I think there's a lot of misconceptions out there regarding what travel nurses do. The marketing departments do a really great job of romanticizing this life. They make it seem it's all rainbows, gumdrops, and unicorns.

The agency ads will say:

  • Make 45,000 in 3 months!
  • FREE Housing!
  • Live your life!
  • Have an adventure!

My wife and I love this travel nursing life. It's pretty sweet! But, despite the marketing ploys, the work is essentially the same. Travelers do have some unique challenges and responsibilities though. Sometimes travelers have to deal with really sketchy, unsafe, and even super dangerous clinical situations as well.

Travel nurses work exclusively for agencies.

We don't work for the hospital. We are responsible for knowing hospital policy but it is tough because every place is so different. We also have agency rules and regulations to abide by. We multiple bosses.

We do have to move more often.

My wife and I move about every 5 months. Though, most travel nurses move every 3 months or more frequently.

Travel nurses are often licensed in multiple states.

I'm licensed in California, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. I haven't used California or Washington yet. California takes FOREVER to get so we may use that this winter. If you don't live in a compact state, you end up with a nice collection of licenses.

Travel nurses have really a short orientation

My first assignment. I had 2 days no the floor and 3 days hospital-wide orientation. Honestly, I had a panic attack on my first day on the floor. For a lot of reasons, but I was just overwhelmed with the massive responsibility I was undertaking. It worked out but just know you're on your own in no time.

Travel nurses float more often.

  • My first assignment: Floated about 10 times
  • Second assignment: Floated 1-2 months out of 6-month contract (yes!)
  • This assignment: I've floated 8 times in 3 months.

You get used to it. In fact, I like to float nowadays. I get a chance to meet new people, change it up, and invariably travel nursing comes up. I love talking about it.

Some other things travelers deal with:

  • Poor treatment and abuse from some facilities.
  • Inappropriate assignments because you are "the traveler." So, screw em'.
  • We miss holidays and family gatherings because we're across the country.
  • We see kids grow up through social media.
  • Crappy housing.
  • Etc.

Though there are some unique challenges to this life, I wouldn't change. I would travel forever if I could (and if my wife would let us).

Thanks for stopping by!

Take care!


Edited by tnbutterfly

My name is Andrew Craig. I'm a travel nurse that specializes in medical step down units. I've been travel nursing for 1.5 years and plan to travel until my wife makes me stop! :)

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