We know that travel nursing can lead to a big boost in pay, but can it really change someone’s life? We know one travel nurse who changed his life in just 6 months.
Better Nurse caught up with Robin, a RN traveler who was able to get out of the rent trap and buy his first home thanks to her travel nursing contracts.
In his own words:
“This job has changed my life in 6 months”
Give us a little bit of background information about your nursing career?
I have been a PCU nurse since 2017, started my career at a hospital in Orlando FL, and was there up until 2021 when COVID’s second wave hit.
Orlando is my home and I plan on staying here to be close to my grandmother and family.
How long have you been doing travel nursing?
I started travel nursing around July 2021 when the Delta variant hit.
My floor became almost unbearable. Half of the staff left for ICU/ER/Travel, and the other half were travelers.
I would say I have been a traveler for a total of 7ish months.
How has the pandemic affected your contracts?
The pandemic hasn’t really affected me personally, because I only know pandemic contracts.
I have been floated to almost every unit, including ICU as a buddy nurse and the ED as a PCU hold.
Yes, I get COVID patients, but I had them anyways as staff. So, why not get paid more?
What travel nursing agency are you working with and what are the pros of the agency?
I always read about horror stories of going to a larger agency, but my recruiter has been AMAZING.
She finds me contracts basically instantly and is always in touch.
I will say that I have an advantage being PCCN certified, which according to her puts me in priority over others.
What made you switch from staff to travel nursing?
Honestly, it was losing my friends.
I had a group of nurses and charges that were with me since day 1 and have grown professionally with me over the years.
If they all stayed, I probably would have too. But now my old unit is all travelers, and I would be sitting there like a dummy making a third of what they’re making.
What have you liked so far about travel nursing?
Travel nursing has opened my eyes to how other units/hospitals are run.
They all have pros and cons, but overall it has been smooth sailing for me.
I used to HATE being floated, but now I kind of look forward to it, because I get to meet new people. Obviously the pay has changed my life too.
You say travel nurse pay helped changed your life. How has the pay been compared to staff nursing?
About 3 to 4 times as much as staff.
I ended up paying my bi-weekly staff check as weekly taxes, so that was an eye opener for me.
One week of 36 hours was basically how much I would make in a month, and if I picked up, that was mind blowing how much I was making.
Are there any downsides to travel nursing?
The only downside I could think of was the thought of not knowing what’s next.
Sure, I can extend my contract (which I did once), but around week 16 I was so bored out of my mind that I didn’t extend again.
It’s weird. I hated change, but now I love it.
You said becoming a travel nurse changed your life in 6 months, and it allowed you to buy a home. Can you tell us more about that?
WHERE TO START OMG!?
My landlord has been increasing my rent by $100 pretty much every year since like 2019. I felt this stranglehold on me and I couldn’t break free.
I was saving as much as I could from my staff job, but it was IMPOSSIBLE to save enough for a down payment. Once my friends made the leap to travel, I asked them for some info and off I went.
I spent probably a year reading about everyone’s issues with getting a mortgage because of travel nursing. I spoke with a mortgage lender and explained to him what travel nursing was (I also had a hard time explaining to my parents what I did because, yes dad, I have a job, but not right now, but I will… no I don’t know where), and he told me that I needed to STICK with AYA for a few contracts.
I went local, and so my stipend was put into my hourly and taxed, which made my hourly STUPID high.
I worked my ass off picking up extra shifts (which I never did) and squirreled away as much money as I could for a down payment. This took me about 6 months to do. I lived like I was still making $1800 bi-weekly.
They needed 2 years of work history, so I gave them a partial W2 from my staff and the other W2 from AYA. I grossed a pretty high number, so they were happy to help me.
Local contracts were not bad. I did the math and it came out a few hundred short of an actual travel nurse with stipends but totally worth it. I was able to get a loan, and I close next week. 🙂
Taking the leap into travel nursing can be scary. What advice would you give to nurses considering it?
Nike, Just Do It.
Is there anything else we should know?
Well, that’s a loaded question.
I plan on picking up higher contracts down the road once my house is all good and my grandmother is back to her home country, but that’s the fun of traveling to me:
I. Don’t. Know.
Thanks for sharing, Robin! It’s amazing to see how a travel nurse can change their life in such a short period of time.
You can read more about Robin’s experience in her original reddit post (and the comments).
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