3 Ways Travel Nursing Can Reset Your Career
After five years working as a permanent nurse, Aya nurse fellow, Zac Shepherd, needed a change. As he contemplated what would come next in his career, he discovered travel nursing. Read more about Zac’s experience below as he shares the three reasons why traveling was the reset he needed to reignite his spark for nursing:
Five years into my career as a nurse, I felt conflicted. I loved making a difference in people’s lives, but I was wearing down — physically, mentally and emotionally. Nursing asks a lot of you every shift, and it took a toll on me. I considered outpatient work, going back to school, or even leaving the profession altogether. I initially pivoted to per diem nursing, and after 6 months in that role, I searched “travel nursing” online.
For me, travel nursing was the solution that reset my career. The experiences and opportunities that travel nursing opened for me have empowered me in my career and extended my time doing meaningful work in a field I love. Here are the three biggest benefits of travel nursing:
- One of the things I value most as a travel nurse is that I have control over when and where I work. When my brother got married overseas, I was able to time my assignments around the wedding to be a part of his special day and even added time afterward to explore Europe. In both my time doing per diem and travel nursing, I’ve found that my schedule adapts to my needs and that I no longer miss out on moments with friends or family due to my work schedule. Based on what I feel is best in each season of my life, I can focus on career goals and take consistent assignments or slow down with more time between assignments to prioritize mental health and time with family. The flexibility to live my life has been vital.
- Before travel nursing, I worked at a hospital where I loved caring for patients and working with my colleagues, but at times found myself frustrated by systemic issues that weren’t being addressed. These issues often affected my workflow and ability to effectively care for my patients. After years without seeing improvement, I felt discouraged about the possibility of change. From my experience working at just one hospital, I only saw one approach to how these issues were handled.
Now, after years of experience as a traveler, I have been able to observe and be a part of many creative and effective solutions. This has provided me with a broader understanding of the healthcare system and of the “bridges” that continue to be built to bring solutions for these challenges. When it comes to the care I give my patients, it’s easy to see the benefit of doing that job and doing it well. But on these wider-reaching issues, perspective and hope can be harder to gain for a nurse facing them daily. My experience traveling has given me hope and inspired personal investment in understanding and participating in these solutions.
- When I finished nursing school, I accepted the first job offer I got thinking my options were limited. And after a couple of years at the bedside, I felt trapped in a set career path. From where I stood, a career move would require going back to school, shifting to an outpatient role or leaving bedside nursing altogether. Travel nursing was my last effort to sustain doing something I loved. When I started, I wasn’t sure it was a solution, but it’s provided me with a great depth of clinical experience, and an even better understanding of my career options as a nurse. Whether it’s travel nursing, full-time staff nursing or per diem, I’ve learned there are different “seasons” to a nursing career. When the time comes, I can use my travel experience and what I’ve learned as a tool to pinpoint where I want to work and what I’m looking for in a more permanent hospital role.
Looking back, travel nursing was the “career reset” that broadened my perspective, extended my nursing career and opened opportunities for me. In a profession where so many people feel stuck, travel nursing was the tool that helped me break free.