Getting paid to travel and help people? What could be better than that? Travel nursing is an alluring career option with its flexible schedule, high pay, and other benefits. But is travel nursing the best decision for your career long-term?

Like every job, travel nursing has pros and cons, and there’s a lot to consider before deciding. I recently had the chance to discuss this topic with Jerome Alacre, Director of Nursing (DON) at Vista Manor Nursing Center, a Generations Healthcare facility in San Jose, CA. Before becoming a DON, Alacre worked as a travel nurse from 2013 to 2016, traveling to 13 states. Throughout his career journey, Alacre learned three important lessons that are helpful to anyone debating whether to become a travel nurse or dedicate themselves to a singular facility:

1. You Have Less Support

As a travel nurse, you make big adjustments every time you move to a new facility. With new systems, people, policies, and procedures, there’s much to figure out with each move!

Because he was only in each facility for a short time as a travel nurse, Alacre felt less support in this role than he did staying with a facility long-term. Additionally, he thought that long-term employees were given higher priority while he was often left with more complicated tasks or transferred between units more frequently.

On the other hand, when Alacre became a nurse dedicated to a single SNF, he saw a huge change in how he was treated. “Because they knew me better,” he say, “upper management was better able to understand my needs and help me progress in my career. Even though the recent pandemic was a challenge, I still felt support from all who surrounded me at Generations Healthcare.”

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2. More Difficulty Focusing on the Future

Travel nursing is an excellent option for those who are younger, more active, want experience, and want to see other parts of the country. However, because travel nurses are always on the go and never know where they will end up next, travel nursing can make it difficult to plan and focus on future career goals.

“In the long run, I didn’t see the position as a permanent job,” Alacre says. “As I got older, I decided it was better to settle down in one location and focus on my plans and goals. So once I settled down at one SNF, I finally had time to sit down, focus on my future, and set goals.”

3. Great Opportunity to Gain Experience

As a travel nurse, you get to meet many different people and learn a lot from different facilities around the country. With that in mind, Alacre is grateful for his time in this position. “My experience as a travel nurse has enabled me to perform better in my current role as a DON,” he says. “Because of my exposure to many different patients and hospitals around the US, I have an easier time understanding and managing patients.” In addition, Alacre’s experience and broad clinical skills allow him to be a strong support for the whole facility.

Generations Healthcare strives to recognize and appreciate the contributions of every staff member. Alacre says, “Generations has been very vocal and appreciative of my clinical experience. In 2019, I was the winner of Generations’ Presidential Award due to the tremendous decrease in readmissions to the hospital that Vista Manor saw in relation to my clinical skills and experience developed from travel nursing.”

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Travel nursing has its perks. Depending on where you are in your career journey, it could be a great option to gain some valuable experience before settling down at one facility. Alacre is very grateful for his time as a travel nurse and has no regrets about his career.

If you are in a position where you want to travel and gain experience, consider travel nursing. If you prefer to have more support and focus on your future, consider choosing a facility where you can settle down. To see examples of the benefits available for staff nurses in skilled nursing facilities, visit lifegen.net/career.

Amy Osmond Cook
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