Whew! So you've finally been officially hired, you've finished the paperwork, and you're ready to make the big decision about where you're going to take your first assignment. You're excited — and you're nervous. Which option should you choose?
We've found that many nurses feel they are facing these decisions alone; online travel nursing resources often give great advice about agencies, job duties, and contractual decisions, but rarely do you get any direction on how to make that very first and most important decision about where to go.
We put our heads together and came up with three considerations many nurses forget to include in their decision-making processes. We hope these suggestions will enable you to make positive choices that lead to new and rewarding experiences as a travel nurse.
It's important to branch out to experience something new — that's what this experience is all about, isn't it? Just keep your preferences in mind when it comes to weather and seasons with regard to the length of your assignment.
If you'll be living in a hot and humid environment or a cold and snowy climate for the first time, you might want to consider sticking to shorter assignments in those areas. If you find that you love the weather, you can always accept a longer assignment the next time around.
This is a consideration that often takes travel nurses by surprise. The cost of living in a small town in Kansas is going to be shockingly different from a large city like San Francisco or Boston. Your pay will likely be adjusted to make up the difference, and your housing costs may even be covered, but even so, run some calculations.
Cost of living isn't just about housing; it also includes the cost of your groceries, dining out, recreational activities, and clothing. If you like to spend $4 on a venti nonfat Frappuccino every morning and afternoon, you might have to adjust depending on where you land. USA.com is a great resource for finding information on the various costs of living in all parts of the country, so give it a good long browse before you make your decision. Our door is always open as well.
Do you live in a big city? More important, do you like living in a big city? If so, follow the same advice we gave you when evaluating weather: If you want to try something new, take a shorter-term assignment until you're sure that you can make the pace of your new location work for you. Or stick with what you know. Suburban areas have many general similarities, but there are plenty of new things to discover in a similar area of an entirely different state, too. Just be mindful of your choices and plan wisely.
This list is certainly not exhaustive, but it's a positive start. Travel nursing offers a wealth of opportunity to explore the country and experience new cultures and populations. Keep these three important details in mind as you make your decisions and you'll be prepared for whatever opportunities and challenges come your way.