Travel Nurses Need a Vacation, Too!
You’re stepping on a plane, ticket in hand and luggage rolling behind you, ready to jet off to your destination with a smile on your face. No, you’re not going on vacation — you’re headed to your next travel nursing assignment. It can feel a little like a vacation at first. Eventually, however, you’re going to remember that this is about work, so it’s important to also schedule a vacation at some point as well.
Assignments aren’t vacations
Travel nursing is the perfect opportunity to visit new places. Unfortunately, researching a destination, finding cool things to do, and preparing to jet off to an unknown place doesn’t make your assignment a true vacation.
When the time comes for your first shift, spending hours in a hospital can come as a bit of a shock to your system. There’s so much to do and see, but you have to work. At this point, it’s easy to develop a negative mindset about the experience. Instead, set clear expectations about your travels and remind yourself that you’re there for work, not for play. Of course, you can find time for both, but by setting your expectation and intention on work, you’ll be in a better mindset to prioritize a vacation in the future.
Get some rest and relaxation
As a nurse, you work hard caring for others and deserve an opportunity to relax and enjoy yourself. Here are some important reasons to take a break once in a while:
- Avoid burnout: Burnout is an unfortunate side effect of demanding jobs like nursing. After weeks or months of long hours, high-stress situations, and emotional strain from caring for or even losing patients, you likely feel emotionally drained or irritable and, frankly, exhausted. Chronic stress can negatively affect your mental and physical health if left unchecked and could affect your ability to effectively care for patients. Taking a much-needed vacation can help you rest and recharge so you’ll be at your best when working with patients.
- Become a happier, healthier person: Vacation time provides the perfect opportunity to disconnect from the daily pressures of work and responsibilities. According to Emma Seppala, science director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, “If you take time off you’re going to be more productive, you’re going to have higher performance, you’re going to have better relationships with people, be more charismatic — the list goes on.” So, taking a vacation is not just “nice,” it’s great for your health and well-being, too!
- Travel without the pressure of responsibilities: When you travel on assignment, you have an opportunity to explore new places, but work remains your priority. Taking a vacation gives you the chance to explore without worrying if you’ll be late for your shift or whether you need to head home early to prepare for the next day’s tasks.
When is the right time?
A lot of nurses don’t take vacations because they feel guilty asking for time off or have a hard time fitting it into their schedules. Fortunately, taking a vacation as a travel nurse is easier than you think.
If you need a short break during your assignment, take 48 hours away from work for a weekend trip or an overnighter to a nearby area. However, keep in mind that any time-off requests that occur during an assignment must be approved prior to your start date. You should inform your recruiter of the requested time off so that he or she can include that information in your travel nurse assignment submission.
Even better, take a longer vacation between assignments. Once your assignment is over, you don’t have to take a new one right away; block off a week or two and head somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit and recharge before tackling your next work adventure.
No matter when you take your vacation, remember to unplug, focus on things outside of work, and have fun!