The Drawbacks of Being a Traveling Nurse

being a travel nurse

As a traveling nurse you will need to be able to adjust to your environments rapidly. Given that s/he will be traveling to brand-new areas and dealing with various jobs on each assignment, the traveling nurse accepts this is one very essential drawback to the job.  If you are unable to adjust rapidly, you are going to be miserable in your assignments.

Considering that nursing deals a lot with interaction with patients and your colleagues, if you are an introvert then constantly interacting with new people might also be a disadvantage.

Working Relationships

If you take a very long time to build an excellent working relationship with your co-workers, becoming a traveling nurse might be a disadvantage.

The Unknown

As a traveling nurse you need to be able to get used to unusual circumstances and the unanticipated events. If you like, and are more comfortable in, environments that you know and are familiar with, then a travel nurse assignment might not be the smart choice for you.

When you travel, things can go wrong!  No matter how much you have actually prepared, no matter how much detail you have actually put into your plans for an assignment, the unexpected will take place.

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The Unexpected

If you are uncomfortable dealing with issues that can emerge during your time away, then you might want to check out a more traditional nursing job. Enjoying home life is great.   Travel nurses are often on the move a lot and aren’t at home.

Assignment Length

A common assignment lasts from 6 weeks to approximately 52 weeks.  This could be very disruptive for someone  who likes to be close to their family.  Being far from their household for extended periods of times means you need to perhaps consider the shorter travel assignments.

The one advantage to this is that you can choose your assignments and select the locations you want to travel to.  So if you want to just go a matter of a few hours away or 2 days away, the choice is yours to accept an assignment or not.

Emergencies At Home

Another drawback is that you are often on call  day due to the fact that you are living near or on site.  For instance, if you are on a cruise ship assignment your services will have to be available at any time they are needed. For individuals who want to work a set schedule, this can often be distressing to them psychologically and physically.


In some cases you’ll have co-nurse bitterness to deal with. When a co-worker finds out you are a travel nurse, they know you are being paid greater for the very same work that they are doing. This can result in  uncomfortable working scenarios.

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The best way to handle scenarios like this is to be pleasant, helpful, and to clearly demonstrate that you are there to do a job.  If you are a true professional it may change their perception of the traveling nurse job.

Your Employers

Last, but not least among biggest disadvantages is dealing with two employers.  You really have two employers — The agency you work for and the facility that hired the agency to bring in a travel nurse.

Sometimes the terms in your contract with your agency will conflict the policies of the facility.  It’s important to get a clear understanding BEFORE you show up for work.

What To Consider

Of course, there are many advantages to being a travel nurse.

      • Positions in all 50 states
      • Bonuses and incentives
      • Benefit packages from some agencies
      • Opportunity to build your skills
      • Free housing
      • Try a new location before moving
      • And many others

It is important to weight both advantages and disadvantages before making a change.

What about you current travel nurses?  What are the disadvantages you might advise a colleague to consider?   Add your comments below…


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