Travel (temporary) nursing and local (long term) nursing both offer pros and cons for anyone choosing a particular career path. More so, there are often misconceptions surrounding the different types of positions. For example, some often associate agencies with per diem / temporary opportunities. However, some agencies- such as JayKay Medical Staffing- can provide full-time, long term placement with a facility. So, to provide a bit of clarification, we’ve outlined some of the top pros and cons for travel and local nursing employment opportunities.
Travel versus Local: An Overview
While each agency may define things differently, here at JayKay Medical Staffing, travel placement typically centers on these four key points:
- The opportunity is for a pre-determined amount of time (usually between 4 and 13 weeks).
- The placement usually comes with the requirement that the traveler must be based more than x miles away from the facility.
- There is the possibility that the facility will provide housing for the traveler (however, not guaranteed).
- Travelers can earn income that is not subject to income tax.
Other than these four points, the opportunities may vary in length, guaranteed hours, scheduling, etc. Travel opportunities do usually come with a required shift (i.e., days or nights) and will specify if overtime will be available. In contrast, our local opportunities are typically more open-ended. While some of the placements may have a minimum length of service, they typically do not have a max like one would find with travel placements.
Pros and Cons: Travel Nursing
Commonly noted benefits of travel nursing:
- One of the most obvious pros is the ability to travel and experience different locations. It’s important to understand this is not the same as having vacation time and/or PTO. Most of the time, travel contacts will include restrictions against paid time off and/or vacations during the duration of the contact. However, when traveling, you can take off as long as you desire in between assignments.
- Travel nursing allows you the opportunity to expand and broaden your work experience at an accelerated pace, while also meeting new people. When traveling, you never know who you will meet and have the opportunity to work with.
- The income is certainly one of the most popular benefits. First, the hourly payrate for travelers is typically higher. Secondly, travel nurses can earn non-taxed income. Thus, travel nursing can be very lucrative for travelers.
- When you are at a facility for a limited time, you typically can avoid workplace politics or drama that come with working at a facility for an extended period.
- Typically, those with changes in their work environment are less prone to burnout.
Commonly noted downsides to travel nursing:
- You must be able to adapt on the fly. You have to acclimate to new surroundings, policies, and colleagues on a regular basis.
- Travelers aren’t typically afforded detailed orientation or onboarding. They are often expected to land on their feet.
- While a facility may typically recruit travelers for a specific shift, travelers are often called upon to fill in when needed.
- Because travelers are often only at a location for a limited amount of time, they might find they have limited/ restricted access in some parts of the facility.
- While some may or may not consider this a con, traveling does require quite a bit of time away from “home”- and thus, family and friends. “Living out of a suitcase” can take its toll on a traveler.
Pros and Cons: Local Nursing
Commonly noted benefits of local nursing:
- Usually, employees working in more permanent positions can count on a predictable week-to-week income.
- Longer-term nurses often have more input on their schedules (even though the facility will often ask for open availability).
- Employees with long-term placements can build a rapport with their work colleagues and patients (depending on the setting).
- Becoming established at a facility allows the nurse to become more familiar with the policies and procedures.
- Quite often, facilities will provide their long term employees with continuing education opportunities.
Commonly noted downsides to local nursing:
- A local, long term employee will be paid less than their traveling counterpart.
- Often, long term employees may have mandatory scheduling when it comes to weekends, overnight shifts and even holidays.
- Compared to a traveler who can simply take a month off in between assignments, a long term employee may experience more restrictions when trying to schedule a vacation/holiday.
- In many cases, long term placement can mean a workload that is a bit more routine (however, to be fair, this might be a pro for some).
We’ve outlined these pros and cons based on the experiences of our nurses. With that said, it’s important to keep one thing in mind. Whether something is a “pro” or “con” is up to you! Someone’s “pro” may often be someone else’s “con.” More so, travel nursing versus local nursing: neither can’t be summed up in one blog post. That is why partnering with an agency like JayKay Medical Staffing can be a true advantage. You always have access to both. In fact, to make it easier for jobseekers, we’ve divided up our placements into two different job boards! Click on the links below to see for yourself!