What’s Next After Travel Nursing?
Travel nursing is a rewarding career that can change the course of your life. Many nurses who have worked in the same hospital for decades and want a change of pace turn to travel nursing to shake things up and see different places. Some nurses who are just a few years into their careers who want to enjoy their independence and explore the country take up travel nursing for the new challenges and opportunities it presents. Others do it for the excellent pay and benefits it can bring. When you become a travel nurse, though, you also need an exit strategy. What will you do after travel nursing?
Not everyone will be a travel nurse forever. Most nurses travel anywhere from one to 10 years or more depending on their experiences. It's highly likely that there will come a time when you want to settle down in one place. If you are on an assignment now and feel like you want to return home, go back to a place you particularly loved, or have loved ones living somewhere you want to be near -- start taking steps to consider what comes after being a travel nurse.
Take Some Time Off
As was the case while you were a travel nurse, taking some time off after you decide to finish is fun and part of the adventure. It's important to reflect on your journey as a travel nurse and acknowledge that it's coming to an end. Budget for some time off after you finish your last assignment so you can relax and take a break. It's important to give your body and mind a rest so you can take on the next phase of your life and career full of energy.
Assess Your Strengths
Travel nurses tend to come out of the field with greater adaptability and a broader perspective than other nurses. They also have a wider range of experience and exposure to different environments. As your travel nursing career winds down, ask yourself:
- What were the greatest lessons you learned while travel nursing?
- What were the biggest challenges?
- How have you grown?
- Were you put into leadership positions that have prepared you for management?
An excellent resource as you move on to the next phase of your career is the book What Color is Your Parachute? by Dick Bolles. It’s a famous book for career changers and job seekers that has been updated through dozens of editions. It will help you to assess your strengths and weaknesses and determine what makes you happiest.
Find a Fit for Your Career Phase
Nurses from all different backgrounds choose to become travel nurses. The majority, however, are recent graduates with two or more years of experience. Some nurses travel during the last phase of their career before they retire. Many travel nurses will study while on assignment so they can finish school online. Do you have the drive to get another certification? Are you looking for a more challenging role? The most important step is to understand what you want out of your career after travel nursing so you can be happy with your choice.
Hone in on What You Love
Travel nursing exposed you to different places and environments. If you kept a journal while on the road, reread it now so you can see where your high and low points were. Did you thrive in a small town? Were there cities where you felt the most challenged and rewarded? If your next destination is still a mystery, this is a great time to reflect on where your best move for a permanent home would be.
If you worked in different hospital settings and on different teams, you can also reflect upon those experiences to determine where you should go next. As you search for a permanent position, polish your resume and play up these experiences to highlight how you'd be a fit for whatever you decide to pursue.
Travel nurses are in high demand even after they leave the field of travel nursing. You emerge a highly adaptable nurse who is adventurous, a team player and ready for new challenges. This primes you for your next career move, whether it be in a management or leadership position or otherwise. Taking the time to thoroughly assess yourself and what motivates you will pay off in the end, because you'll come out of it self-assured and prepared for success.