Considering a career as a travel nurse? This choice offers exciting opportunities, especially for Black travel nurses who are open to new challenges and exploring different environments.
Far too many people – African Americans and others – never leave their own city or state. Working as a cross-country nurse ensures you’ll see far more of America than most folks who always stay local and never “get off the block.”
But don’t let the promise of travel, or even just the potential for a higher salary, be your only decision factor. You should also evaluate personal, professional, and social considerations.
Here’s a realistic look at the pros and cons you might encounter as a Black travel nurse:
Pros of the Travel Nursing Profession
There are far more pros than cons to becoming a travel nurse. Still, it’s important to think realistically about which advantages or disadvantages of being a travel nurse matter most to you. So let’s start with the upside and the slew of benefits you can gain from taking to the road as a travel nurse.
Expanding Your Horizons
Traveling allows you to immerse yourself in different cultures, helping you gain a broader understanding of the country (or the world) and offering others a chance to learn from you. Maybe you were born and raised on the East Coast, but you’re ready and willing to spread your wings and explore the Midwest or South – even if just temporarily, on assignment for a few months.
Or perhaps, your current neighborhood, or the place where you were raised, is overwhelmingly African American. But you might be open to going to an immigrant community, which is largely Latino or Asian, or a place where there’s a large Native American population. If so, one advantage to your role as a travel nurse is that you get to participate in a cultural exchange of sorts – connecting with people of different backgrounds in meaningful ways.
Working in various healthcare systems equips you with versatile skills, making you adaptable and valuable in different settings. You’ll have to be fast on your feet at times, and flexible in working with new people or unfamiliar equipment. But through it all, you’ll gain the benefits of having a rich set of diverse experiences – something that ultimately makes you more marketable as a nurse practitioner, LPN, or other healthcare professional.
Economic Opportunities and Higher Pay
As a travel nurse, you’ll often earn more than nurses in permanent positions. Add to that housing stipends and potential bonuses, and the financial incentives are clear. Earning those higher-than-average dollars means you’re better positioned for financial strength and financial independence. The pay and benefits you receive can put you in a strong position to wipe out debts, invest, or more readily support your family.
A Stronger Professional Network
One huge advantage to working as a travel nurse is that it affords you the ability to broaden your connections. Each assignment is a new opportunity to meet and collaborate with a range of healthcare professionals. These connections can be beneficial for future opportunities. Someone you meet in your role as a travel nurse today could wind up being the same person who hires you or refers you for an even better role in the future.
Different settings present chances to find mentors or become one, aiding your personal and professional growth.
- Provide Positive Representation: Your presence in diverse locations can challenge and change preconceived notions, encouraging a more inclusive environment.
- Connect with Peers: On your travels, you’ll have opportunities to meet other Black travel nurses, potentially forming strong professional bonds and friendships.
- Facing Cultural Challenges:
- Dealing with Microaggressions: These subtle, often unintentional, discriminatory comments or actions can be a regular challenge, and as the “new nurse”, addressing them can be tricky.
- Potential Isolation: In some assignments, especially in areas with less diversity, you might feel like the odd one out.
Navigating Professional Challenges:
- Bias in Patient Care: Occasionally, patients may refuse care based on your race. Handling such situations professionally requires tact and patience.
- Adjustment Phases: Each new location comes with its own set of norms. Adapting to these, especially as a Black person, can sometimes be more challenging.
Managing the Emotional Toll:
- Continuous Transition: Regularly moving can make it tough to maintain stable personal relationships and find a consistent support system.
- Prioritizing Self-care: Facing both personal and professional challenges simultaneously can make it hard to consistently prioritize your well-being.
Tackling Practical Challenges:
- Finding a Good Fit: It may take several assignments to find the best environments where you feel comfortable and appreciated.
- Licensing and Certifications: Some states might require additional paperwork or certifications, adding to the administrative burden.
Making Your Decision with Eyes Wide Open
Embarking on a career as a travel nurse can be one of the most exhilarating decisions you can make as a healthcare professional.
For Black travel nurses, this journey is uniquely textured with its own set of advantages and challenges. With the promise of new cities, diverse patient populations, and the prospect of sharpening your skills in varying healthcare settings, it’s a path many choose with enthusiasm.
Nonetheless, the truth is no job or career alternative is all good or all bad. So, don’t have unrealistically rosy expectations, nor should you fret unnecessarily about potential pitfalls.
Your path as a Black travel nurse will be filled with both unique challenges and rewarding experiences. While there are hurdles to overcome, the benefits, both professionally and personally, can be immense. As with any career choice, being informed and prepared is crucial.
By understanding what lies ahead and building a supportive network, you can navigate the world of travel nursing successfully.