CONTRACT #5...I cannot believe that I have done five travel nurse contracts so far since October of 2017. I am halfway through my contract at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin, North Carolina; going into Week 7 out of 13. Three months flies by so fast in the blink of an eye. Just like I mentioned before in Part 3 of my 3-part series, “A Travel Nurse Guide to Richmond, Virginia”, I decided to take a local contract close to home so I can save a little money and be close to my friends and family for a while.
This contract is no different from the others. Learning a new hospital, new computer system, meeting new people, and adopting new ways has become second nature. I have also been able to expand on my skill sets professionally, been able to overcome adversity in different ways, and have adopted a mindset that I am at work for the patients. It is never about me. I really enjoy what I do as a nurse and it amazes me that there is so much more out there that I can do and accomplish. The sky is the limit, really. Also, I have truly enjoyed being close to home again. I have spent quality time with my family and friends and have been present for many experiences and events. This timeframe that I have been home has been one of the best times of my life. That is one of the main things that I enjoy the most about being a travel nurse: I can always come back when I want to, and when I am ready to go, I can leave again.
I am going to be transparent with you all. Since I have came back to North Carolina, I have had some thoughts about my career path and what I would like to do in the future. I feel like me being home and enjoying my time here has a lot to do with it (lol).
I have worked in the hospital (inpatient setting) ever since I became a nurse three years ago. I feel like I want to stop traveling and do something different; specifically on the outpatient side (i.e doctor’s office, clinic, dialysis, health department, etc.). I just feel like I want to do something a little more settled. I have honestly been contemplating about my future as a travel nurse lately. Here are the most probing questions that pop in my head:
Do I stop after 2019, or do I keep going?
Do I settle for a while or not?
What if I don’t stop travel nursing completely, can I just do seasonal travel and hold a permanent job back home?
How long do I want to keep doing this travel nurse thing?
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE BEING A TRAVEL NURSE. This was honestly a goal of mine that I have been aiming for since my senior year of nursing school and I have achieved that and then some. But everything has its pros and cons.
What they don’t tell y’all about being a travel nurse is that it can get exhausting. Living out of a suitcase and moving every three months can get old really quick, especially if you are a person that likes stability. Learning a new city and a new hospital can be tough, especially if you have roots in your hometown. Also, if you don’t have co workers that are willing to help you navigate your new workplace, that definitely becomes more of a challenge. Being a travel nurse can also get very lonely. You can get homesick and miss your family and friends constantly. You scroll on social media and see your friends and family have an amazing time back home with different events and occasions. Your heart aches and you hold back tears because you wish you were there too. You may not be able to relate to the people on your unit and it can be hard to make friends. Travel nursing can also become expensive. Yes, you get stipends that help you with your housing and meals on top of your hourly pay, but you have to duplicate expenses. That means you have to pay rent (sometimes utilities) at the location you are at along with your rent/mortgage and other bills at your place back home. I have come to find that with the luxuries of being a travel nurse, it can also be emotionally and financially taxing.
But, here is how I combat these issues:
I combat loneliness by keeping in close contact with my family and friends and plan visits for them to come see me or to go home for a quick visit. I combat moving every three months by switching back and forth: I will take a long distance contract for one contract, then take a local contract for the next one and just keep doing that. I combat the finances by planning ahead, saving up during every contract, and budgeting accordingly. I also comb through my stipends and hourly pay and plan three months ahead on how much I will save, where I will live during my contract period, etc.
I have not made any concrete decisions yet, but as of now, I am not going to stop traveling anytime soon. Despite the cons, there are definitely more pros and I feel like at this point in my life, a part of me wants to continue doing this for the time being. I go through experiences and see different things as a travel nurse that I probably wouldn’t be able to do if I was still at home in North Carolina. I still have a few places in mind that I really want to visit before I decrease my traveling or stop completely. I just ask that you all continue to pray for me and just allow God to guide me in the direction that HE wants for my career. I only want God’s will to be done with this. Thank you all for reading and until next time,
Live life, love always, and don’t forget to smile,