We get asked this all the time—how easy is it for travel nurse jobs to be part-time instead of full-time? Before you sign up for a travel assignment or have a chat with a recruiter, let us break it down for you. Learn more about how you can actually make part-time travel nursing work out.
Can Travel Nurses Work Part-Time?
Is it really possible for travel nurses to work part time? In a traditional sense, not really. Healthcare travel assignments are almost always for 36, 40 or 48 hours a week, depending on how many days you’re scheduled and how long your shifts are. Full time nursing weeks usually start at 36 hours per week, which is normally three, 12 hour shifts. However, it is possible for nurses to work five, eight hour shifts or four, 12 hour shifts per week when they’re working travel nurse jobs.
When people in a non-medical field realize that you “only” work 36 hours a week as a nurse, you probably hear, “Oh, that’s so nice!” But non-nurses don’t realize how grueling a 12 hour shift as a nurse can be. We totally get it and understand that nurses need the rest of the week as recovery time for working such a physically, mentally and emotionally demanding job. You won’t hear us talking about how nurses “only” work 36 hours a week.
Alternatives to Working Part-Time
Though it can be difficult or nearly impossible to find a nursing job that will only schedule you for two, 12 hour shifts each week, there are definite alternatives. Let’s break them down.
Working as a PRN nurse
One option is working as a PRN nurse. One thing to note: Triage doesn’t handle PRN shifts, so if you’re looking for one, try your local hospital.
The term PRN stands for “pro re nata,” which literally translates into “as the situation demands.” PRN nurses work on an “on call” basis, rather than working a set number of shifts each week. Many PRN nurses like to work this type of schedule because it’s a great way to keep their skills current while taking care of their families, staying home with young children or after retirement from a full-time job. Some travel nurses even pick up a PRN shift every once in a while or maintain PRN status with their home hospital to give them options if they ever decide to stop traveling.
Working as a PRN nurse is a great way to work part-time, but there are some drawbacks to working a PRN schedule. PRN nurses won’t have a set schedule, which means it’s not a good option for someone who wants consistent work (along with a consistent paycheck). Additionally, they’re not usually eligible for benefits, like health insurance, retirement plans, disability insurance or paid time off. PRN nurses do typically have a higher hourly wage than staff nurses, but don’t receive stipends like travel nurses.
If you decide that working as a PRN nurse is right for you, you can reach out to individual hospitals to inquire about their PRN or temporary pool. You’ll have to do some paperwork and get on the facility’s call list, then you’ll be ready to go.
Working shorter contracts as a travel nurse
Another option for working part-time is to work shorter contracts, rather than the traditional 13 week contracts. By finding a shorter contract, you have the flexibility to take a break in between contracts. You may be working the same number of hours while you’re on assignment, but you’ll be able to schedule a longer break, which means your hours even out to part-time status. Shorter contracts can be more difficult to find though, so if you’re only open to assignments less than 13 weeks, give your recruiter some time to make it happen.
Taking time off in between 13 week travel assignments
Yet another choice is to take a longer break in between your regular, 13 week assignments. Some travel nurses choose to take a week or two off in between each one. While it’s not true part-time status, you can give yourself a break. One thing to be aware of though, if your new assignment doesn’t start within 26 days, your Triage benefits will not continue and you’ll have a break in coverage, particularly health insurance. To keep your benefits running, make sure that you don’t have a longer break in between assignments.
Why Should You Work Part-Time as a Travel Nurse
One of the major reasons nurses choose travel assignments is because of the flexibility. This includes the ability to make their own “part-time” schedule. Working like this and ensuring you take breaks in between assignments has some serious benefits.
Benefit #1: Avoiding burnout
Burnout is a serious concern for caregivers, particularly nurses. When a nurse is able to take some time off in between assignments, they’ll be able to fully relax and recharge. And because of the higher rate traveling nurses have over staff nurses, they’re more likely to be able to stash away funds for the time they’re not working.
Benefit #2: Avoiding hospital politics
It’s unfortunate, but true. Hospital politics are a real thing. Travelers and those working as a PRN nurse are able to stay out of all the politics of working at a hospital and just focus on doing their work. And, if it gets to be too much? They can just leave once their assignment is over or turn down PRN shifts in that unit. It’s that easy!
Interested in learning more about travel nursing and travel nurse jobs? Connect with a travel nurse recruiter today to learn more about travel nurse jobs and traveling with Triage.