The idea of working and living in a new location might seem fun and interesting, but it’s important to remember that every job has advantages and disadvantages. When you’re considering a healthcare travel position, a realistic picture of the job’s duties and its external factors will keep your expectations aligned. You don’t have to completely give up your dreams of adventure, just situate them in the practical reality of performing a challenging job in an unfamiliar place. You’re still in? OK, we’ve put together some key points to consider, so read on to review the truths about medical travel that people don’t often talk about.
As a traveling medical professional, you’ll need to keep your paperwork up-to-date at all times. If you work for multiple staffing agencies, the task of maintaining a current resume and tax forms becomes even more important. Make a habit of reviewing your paperwork monthly and providing all parties with the documents they need in order to pay you on time and keep their files kosher. You’ll also need to stay on top of immunizations and any professional certifications you hold, making sure to complete refresher courses on time so that the certifications don’t expire while you are on assignment at a distant place.
LIFE’S NOT A BEACH
Travel assignments are about the job first and the location second. Some staffing agencies will lure you in with visions of sunshine and white sandy beaches, but the demands of your job will likely prevent frequent leisure time. Your employer will expect your full dedication and may not be flexible about weekend trips that require a Friday afternoon off. The people you work with might not understand your desire to visit touristy or historical areas that, to them, might be boring or old hat. You should also note that some geographically desirable spots, like coastal Florida, may not pay as well as other areas of the country. With your adventurous urges in check, you’ll better appreciate the free time you do have and will perhaps consider jobs in colder urban areas or small towns with year-round charm.
As a medical traveler, you’ll sometimes have gaps in pay as you transition from job to job and move around. Even though you’ll receive travel allowances, it can take a while for the funds to process through the payroll department. When switching to a new assignment, expect to work for two weeks without a paycheck. You’ll need to plan ahead by keeping a nest egg for things like rental deposits, gas, groceries, clothing, and incidentals. Sketch out a budget ahead of time, remembering that life is less than fun when you don’t have the things you enjoy, like cable TV and internet.
Every workplace is different, and some facilities treat temporary professionals differently than regular staff. Until you get to know everyone, your coworkers may have their guard up and treat you like an outsider. You may be excluded from events like birthday parties, asked to leave the facility when meetings or seminars take place, or just generally feel excluded from the team at times. Other workplaces may not exclude you but expect even more from you than they do their regular employees. Bosses, supervisors and their underlings might take their frustrations out on you because they know you won’t be around long. An understanding of group dynamics and a thick skin is required of the traveling healthcare professional.
Family and friends at home offer support in ways you will only begin to notice when you’re on location for work. Although there is much to gain from living away from home, it’s possible you’ll become homesick for familiar things and the people you love. Loneliness can set in quickly and drain the enthusiasm and pioneering spirit that led you to travel in the first place. Fortunately, this is one area that’s easy to control. Make an effort to increase interpersonal communication by engaging with your new community outside of work — join a kickball league, do some volunteer shifts, and accept invitations to gatherings and events. You should also communicate regularly with the folks back home — use social media to keep in touch and, even better, invite them to visit.
With new experiences comes personal growth that may not always be fun. You might see your life at home differently and become more aware of how toxic relationships are affecting you and your family. If such realizations occur, you might find your life changing in unexpected ways — a love relationship might end, for example. Although these changes can be painful, they can also be beneficial and might be the greatest reward you’ll receive from your decision to travel for work. Keep an open mind and welcome the personal growth. A more confident and self-sufficient version of you is waiting!
With a realistic perspective on the advantages and disadvantages of healthcare travel, you’re in a better place to begin the process of finding your next assignment. Begin by reading through our Healthcare Travel Guide for more tips and advice from experts. Next, take a look at our allied and travel nurse jobs page and browse for assignments that suit your skills and interests. Our service is designed to help you find rewarding and well-paying jobs in locations across the country. Consult with our team to explore locations you may not yet have considered as well as the places you’ve dreamed of. We’re ready to help you enjoy life as a traveling medical professional!