If you’ve ever considered packing up your scrubs and stethoscope to hit the road as a travel nurse, you’ve likely weighed the traditional pros and cons. However, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the travel nursing landscape is much different than it was a year ago in terms of both risks and rewards. Now the need for travel nurses is greater than ever and with increased demand comes higher pay, making it an alluring option. But in an era where travel is universally discouraged, deciding to hit the road can be intimidating.
If you’re a nurse thinking of making a difference for pandemic patients and working in hotspots around the country, there’s a lot to know before accepting your first assignment. Keep reading to learn about the advantages and drawbacks, hear from an experienced travel nurse, and gather valuable resources for making your journey comfortable.
Travel Nursing & COVID-19: What Are the Risks?
Navigating life during a pandemic is challenging in its own right but working as a travel nurse during this uncertain time carries even more risks. Regardless of the experience under your belt, travel nursing in the age of coronavirus should be approached with caution by all. Here are just some of the major risks to be aware of before packing your bags to cross state lines as a nurse.
The Rewards of Being a Travel Nurse During COVID-19
Nursing is a rewarding career on its own but choosing to become a travel nurse during a worldwide pandemic comes with some extra rewards. From increased demand and higher pay to accelerating your on-the-job training and helping save lives, here are some of the positive takeaways for travel nurses during coronavirus.
Expert Insight on Travel Nursing During a Pandemic
Danielle Harris Medlock, RN, BSN, is working as a travel nurse for Gifted Healthcare based in Louisiana during the pandemic. Here are some of her insights into her chosen profession during a pandemic.
Q: Why would anyone want to be a travel nurse during the pandemic?
A: As a home health nurse, I have enjoyed being a travel nurse during the pandemic. It has allowed me to serve my community in areas with higher needs due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Another benefit of being a travel nurse during this time is that I have been equipped with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), weekly COVID-19 testing, hazard pay and travel reimbursement for going outside of my typical coverage area.
Q: Do the potential dangers frighten you? Are you concerned about getting COVID?
A: In regard to it being dangerous to work as a travel nurse during the pandemic: I would disagree with this statement. As long as we are using our PPE as instructed and our patients are utilizing PPE as well, then our exposure risk is greatly reduced. By using our pre-screening questions when scheduling our patients and advising them to wear masks and other PPE during our visits we are controlling the environment as much as possible.
Q: What can you do so that you don’t suffer burnout while working as a travel nurse during the pandemic?
A: I think this question can apply to nursing in general at any time, not necessarily just during the pandemic. As nurses, we have to take care of our mental, emotional and physical health every day. Our jobs are taxing, not just mentally but emotionally and physically as well. It is imperative that we get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and engage in regular physical activity in addition to taking time daily to do something we love. One of my favorite ways to unwind and recharge is with a good book. It allows my body to rest, my mind to recharge and my emotions to balance out all while taking time for myself and getting away from the hectic world that is healthcare.
Q: How do you know if the assignment you’re applying for is right for you?
A: When you apply for an assignment, you can see the exact location, hospital section, shift hours and compensation that is available for that particular assignment. I use a specific company that has an app that allows me to see all of the available shifts and I can select the ones I am interested in. I can see enough information to decide if it’s right for me.
Q: Can you be choosy when it comes to accepting assignments?
A: I don’t have to accept any assignment ever, which is nice. There is definitely freedom and flexibility in applying for assignments especially right now because there is such a high demand for travel nurses.
Valuable Resources Every Travel Nurse Needs During COVID-19
During these unprecedented times, many businesses and individuals are pitching in and providing not only needed supplies but also extras to make life better for those on the frontlines, including travel nurses. Here are some valuable resources that can make working as a travel nurse during COVID-19 not just possible, but comfortable.
Headspace is offering some meditations that you can listen to at any time and use to help you stay calm and sane.
HOLLIBLU is an app exclusively for nurses and nursing students. You can use it to create a virtual nurse profile, highlighting your work and volunteer experiences, licenses and certifications, goals, interests, and more. It makes it easy for you to keep all the documentation that you need for your travel assignment in one place and you can use the app to connect with colleagues around the globe.
Healthcare workers, including travel nurses, can go to HospitalHero.care and request help running errands, preparing meals, or with childcare and pet care. Volunteers across the country have signed up to provide what you need. You share the link on social media and your request will be answered by volunteers in your area.
Have a task you need help with? The National Student Response Network may have a health professions student volunteer who can provide what you’re looking for.
According to the American Medical Association, medical students in some areas also have volunteered to deliver supplies/meals and run errands on behalf of individuals in quarantine.
Child & Pet Care
You can find the care you need – whether for your toddler or your golden retriever– at Care.com. Care.com is offering a free month of premium membership during the pandemic to newly enrolling healthcare workers. Membership allows you to find care in your area that meets your requirements.
Hotels & Lodging
Some hotels in cities such as Baltimore, Maryland, or states such as California are offering frontline healthcare workers special rates and packages on their rooms. Search online to see what deals are available where you are working as a travel nurse.
Several hotel brands are offering rooms at special or reduced rates for essential workers. Choice is one such hotel chain. Request the Choice Cares rate when you book. Marriott is offering special packages and rates for healthcare workers as well.
Like Uber, the rideshare company Lyft is offering freebies to essential healthcare workers including car rides, scooters, and bikes. Free scooters are available in Denver, Los Angeles, Metro DC, San Diego, and Santa Monica, California. Free bike shares are available in NYC, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Metro DC, and Minneapolis.
Clothing & Footwear
Nike increased its discount to first responders and healthcare workers from 10% to 20% during the pandemic. You will need to verify you’re working as a travel nurse to receive the discount.
North Face is providing a discount on its non-sale items to healthcare workers in the U.S. You can use the discount on certain non-sale items on its website, thenorthface.com, and at its North Face owned retail stores. Exclusions apply.
As a thank-you for all you do, nurses can get 30% off on Adidas shoes and other items. You will have to show proof of employment as a nurse.
You may be able to snag a free pair of Crocs. Supplies are limited, but you can sign up to request your pair.
Medelita is offering 30 percent off its scrubs for frontline workers.