As a travel nurse, you typically have mixed emotions as your assignment comes to an end. Do you stay or do you go?
This can be a challenging time, as there are so many pro’s and con’s to both decisions. Maybe you have finally found a place that makes you happy and the best version of yourself. Or, maybe the money is too good to pass up, so you think you need to take advantage of another opportunity. But then again, the world is a big place and you feel like you need to move on to somewhere new, and be open to other experiences. I fight this battle every couple of months, and I have finally mastered a way to make a decision. Below are some of the topics I consider when deciding if I should stay or go:
Money isn’t everything.
I have found myself in several situations where I decided to stay at a particular destination because the money was too good to pass up. I ended up regretting this decision almost immediately, because I would exhaust myself to earn the money. The most important thing I’ve learned throughout my travels is that living a balanced life is everything.
When I work too much and don’t find time for myself, I always end up suffering mentally and physically. My advice to other travelers is to make a decision based on what your heart tells you, not what your ego tells you. I understand that you may have financial goals in mind, but always put your well-being first. If the job is mentally and physically exhausting, it’s probably not worth staying. The travel nursing industry is blooming like crazy, and there will ALWAYS be opportunities to make the money you want.
Go where you feel most alive.
This goes in hand with what I mentioned above, but be sure to go somewhere that you can live a balanced life. I personally love being by the mountains or ocean. I think it’s important to place yourself where you can enjoy your hobbies, and be your best self. If you hate the winter, don’t go to a destination where it’s snowing just because the money is there. This career is full of opportunities, so it’s up to you to decide what you want to do with them.
Take time off between assignments.
If you’re thinking about staying at your current assignment, take a break between extensions if you’re able to. I have taken up to a month off before coming back for the second half of my assignment! This allows for you to take some “me time” and not work 6 months straight. You also always have the option to extend for the amount of time that’s convenient for you.
Most of the time, the hospital is willing to accept whatever it is that you will give them. If you don’t want to commit to another 13 weeks, then don’t! Extend according to your wants and needs, and allow the universe to sort out the rest!
Do you have a circle of friends you can’t imagine leaving?
One of the down sides of travel nursing is moving every couple of months, and leaving new friendships behind. I think we can all vouch that it takes a few months to get comfortable with new places and people. Just when you start to open up to people, your assignment comes to an end.
If I feel like I have something really awesome going, I might consider extending at my current assignment. Maintaining relationships on the road can sometimes be tricky, so it’s important to nurture positive connections when you have them. Also, if you have a group of people you enjoy spending time with, it makes the job much more tolerable!
Is your current position challenging you as a nurse?
I like to think in terms of “am I being challenged?”. One of the major perks of travel nursing is growing professionally and individually with each assignment. You will notice that each hospital is different in it’s own way. Some hospitals will require you to brush up on certain clinical skills, while others may require you to learn a new charting system.
Always look at new assignments as opportunities for growth. If you feel “bored or burnt out” at your current assignment, maybe it’s time to move on and seek other opportunities. Each assignment will challenge you in new ways because its an unfamiliar environment.