Travel Nursing can offer unique opportunities for nurses who enjoy tackling a new challenge. Many of the travel nursing companies offer generous benefit packages as well. Travel assignments normally last 13 weeks. A professional who has good problem-solving skills and adapts quickly will sometimes be offered the opportunity to extend a travel assignment or even make it a permanent position.It may sound like an exciting adventure but there are definite pros and cons to consider. Most Travel Nursing Companies don't offer vacation pay or sick time. Travel nurses would be expected to stay and complete a patient assignment that may take longer than usual. Also, taking on-call assignments, weekend and holiday shifts may be part of the traveler's job.
Believe it or not, travel nurses often earn more than the permanent staff nurses in the facility. Plus many agencies offer free travel to and from your assignment, and free housing while you are there. And, of course, there are health insurance benefits, 401K benefits and much more offered by many of the agencies as well. The demand for travel nurses is expected to increase over 20% in the next ten years and the nursing shortage is only getting worse because of the increase in patients due to the aging baby boomers and the fact that some of us are living longer.
Travel Nursing Salary is higher than average and when you factor in the additional non-taxable benefits you can come out way ahead of the game. This is just one of the many benefits traveling healthcare professionals enjoy. But, there are costs involved with the Healthcare Traveler's lifestyle as well. There are tax implications for the "free housing or per diem" benefits offered. In order to qualify for the tax-free reimbursements you have to keep a "tax-home" or else these benefits are taxable income. This means that you have to maintain a home base with home expenses in order to qualify for the tax-free housing allowances, stipends, or per diems. You have to keep traveling and cannot work in one place for too long as that may change your "tax home". As noted above most travel companies do not offer paid sick leave or vacation time either. Licensing and Certification expenses can be hundreds of dollars depending on where you are traveling and the agencies don't always cover these expenses either.
Just realize there are many factors to consider and sometimes when something sounds too good to be true, maybe it really is. Read your contracts, ask questions and work with reputable companies. Your recruiter should be able to answer many of these questions although it may be necessary to consult a tax professional depending on your circumstances. Use your head and pay attention to details. As always, there are pros and cons to examine and take into consideration when choosing your next assignment.
Mary Crawford, HealthCare Employment Network