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Travel as a long term nursing career strategy: 3 key advantages

by Allison Riley

Nurses travel for lots of reasons. There are as many motives and benefits as there are travel nurses. For some, travel nursing can be a bridge between permanent roles, a way try out a new employment option, or a shortcut to a fun change of scenery. However, for others – including labor and delivery nurse Rachel Ronk – travel nursing can be an important part of a well-planned, long-term nursing career strategy. Here are 3 specific professional advantages that Rachel has gained from travel nursing:

1. Making connections to gain experience

After accepting and enjoying several travel assignments early in her career, Rachel recognized her passion for labor and delivery. She pursued and landed a permanent position to build up her qualifications in labor and delivery, and is doing so with an eye toward a future travel lifestyle designed around a specialty she loves.

She credits her experience as a travel nurse for helping her secure a position in a highly sought-after specialty.

“Labor and delivery is hard to get into,” says Rachel. “Thankfully, my manager at my last travel assignment was really great. She understood I had goals I wanted to pursue, and introduced me to the manager of the labor and delivery unit where I work now. If it wasn’t for my travel assignment with that hospital and manager, I wouldn’t be in this spot today. I don’t know that I would have gotten to where I wanted to be – when I wanted to be here – without the connections I made through travel nursing.”

2. Pursuing personal growth to build confidence

While the professional benefits of travel nursing have been numerous and apparent for Rachel, the personal benefits of travel nursing have been more intimate, yet profound. And they’re proving to be a powerful catalyst for achieving her career goals.

“The personal growth I have experienced through travel nursing is something I didn’t expect,” says Rachel. “I always expect to leave the hospital feeling like I made a difference. Those feelings weren’t new to me. But the feeling of growth and confidence instilled in me through traveling has been huge. I feel like I’m an entirely new person since I moved here. I never expected to be where I am right now. I’ve learned a lot about myself.”

In all her experience, Rachel is most proud of the way she has been able to push herself out of her comfort zone. And that drive has given her the confidence to be deliberate and assured about her future career aspirations.

“I like comfort. I think we all like to feel comfortable in our own realm. So I’m proud of myself for pushing myself to travel in the first place,” says Rachel. “And now, traveling is my new comfort zone. I wish I could still be traveling, but I knew I had to take the staff meetings and other mandatories that come with a permanent position to get where I want to be. I’m proud of myself – proud of my growth and my ability to push myself. That’s not easy for me to do.”

travel as a long term nursing career strategy - image of labor and delivery nurse rachel ronk

3. Applying lessons learned to your nursing career strategy

While taking a “break” from traveling in a permanent position, Rachel continues to draw on the lessons learned and skills honed in her travel assignments. The challenges she faced in new assignments pushed her to sharpen her skills and made her a stronger practitioner. Learning new processes and protocols taught her the importance of being flexible and patient. And exposure to a greater diversity of patients and patient needs helped her further develop her bedside manner.

“Travel nursing has expanded my views on how I saw nursing and hospitals,” says Rachel. “I thought every place was going to be like where I’d come from. But taking on new challenges was the best thing for me professionally. I’ve gained so much from this experience.”

Advice to prospective travel nurses

Finally, Rachel offers these words of advice for individuals considering travel nursing.

“You have to remember it’s about the patient,” said Ronk. “While you might encounter challenges or difficulties, at the end of the day it’s about your relationship with the patient – how you make them feel and how you make their family feel. Making them feel comfortable, and helping them know they’re safe and well taken care of are the most important things. Nothing else really matters.”

For more information about travel nursing, or to speak with a recruiter, visit RNnetwork.

Allison Riley About Allison Riley

Allison Riley is a public relations professional with more than 10 years experience in healthcare and corporate communications. She lives in New York City with her better half and two wonderful daughters. She and her girls are currently contending for world's slowest recorded stair climb to a fifth-floor apartment, and she enjoys writing so she can just finish her sentence already.

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