Travel Nursing: What I’ve Learned in My First Year Pt. 1

There has undoubtedly been a surge in the number of nurses making the leap into travel nursing since the beginning of the pandemic. Travel nursing can be a very lucrative way for nurses to make competitive salaries without obtaining an advanced degree. I think the pros of travel nursing are very clear, but there are some things every nurse should know before signing their first contract.

The more nursing experience you have before traveling, the better.

It’s not impossible to get a contact as a novice nurse, but it is very ill-advised. Although the money can be enticing, there are certain aspects of nursing that new nurses just don’t have. When you become a travel nurse, facilities expect you to hit the ground running with little to no orientation. You are an aide to the facility, so you’re expected to be an expert in your respective field, possessing the confidence and critical thinking skills needed to independently care for your patients.

Have money saved up before you travel

While this is not completely necessary, I wouldn’t recommend leaving your staff job without at least 3 months’ worth of bills saved up. From the time you sign a contract, to your actual start date is about 6 weeks to complete the onboarding process. You want to have savings in case your start date gets pushed and/or your contract is cancelled for any reason and your job search restarts.

Rates fluctuate, so be prepared to negotiate

More than once, I’ve found myself negotiating my rate with my recruiter. Once you begin your travel nurse journey, you may find yourself wanting to negotiate for a higher rate. I can’t count the times I’d signed a contract, then found another agency offering a higher rate for the same job. To negotiate, I would contact my recruiter to discuss the other agency’s rate and see what could be done to adjust my rate.  I’ve only been unsuccessful once, due to the facility not being willing to budge.

I’m excited to share what I’ve learned during my travel nurse journey, but I’d love to hear your experiences as well! Feel free to leave a comment below and subscribe to my email list so you don’t miss parts 2 and 3!

7 Side Hustles For Nurses

Become A Tutor

You can make some serous money as a tutor (upwards of $45/hr). These jobs are very flexible, as you can set your own, pay, hours, and they can take place in-person or online. You don’t have to limit your self to nursing students, either. For example, if you’re excellent at math, you can tutor grade school and college students alike. You can even sign up to be a tutor to those in different countries to help them learn to speak English.

Working PRN

Picking up per-diem hours can be a great way to make extra money. These positions usually pay more per hour than regular staff positions. You also get to make your own schedule for the most part, and depending on the need, you usually don’t have an issue working as many hours you want.

Starting a small business

As nurses, we often forget that we are great at things other than nursing. Starting a small business can be fun and lucrative at the same time. I would implore you to start your small business doing something you love, even if its not related to healthcare. For example, you could sell your home-made pottery, artwork or even sell homecooked dinners. You’d be surprised how you could turn your side hustle into a full-time gig.

Telehealth – triage nursing

This is a wonderful way to make extra cash no matter your schedule. Triage jobs are usually always in high demand, especially during these times of COVID-19; I see a lot more of these jobs available. Triage nurses can work for doctor’s offices and insurance companies. These jobs often have evening/overnight, weekend and holiday hours. This opportunity allows companies to have a 24hr availability to their patients. The flexibility of these positions is a perfect way for day shift or night shift nurses to supplement their income.

Investing

I encourage everyone to invest! While this won’t bring in a ton of money immediately, it’s a great way to prepare for your future. I don’t know about you, but the thought of learning how to invest puts me straight to sleep. Typically, if you’re looking to make some extra money, you don’t have a lot to spare for investment purposes. I use the ACORNS app to do my investing for me. I love how easy and user friendly this app is. The best part is that I’m only investing my spare change, so I’m not breaking the bank.

Immunization Nurse

This is another great side hustle for nurses. As an immunization nurse, you can work virtually anywhere, providing immunization shots to patients. These positions are very flexible! You don’t need a bachelor’s degree, and you can even start working these positions right out of nursing school.  

Freelancing/Consulting

These positions are great for veteran nurses with a lot of years under their belt. Not only can you set your own hours, but your own pay as well. The more experience you have providing direct patient care, the more you can charge your clients.

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