So, when do you know if you should take a staff position or not? At what point do you decide to stop traveling? This is a question I am pondering, as my life has started to go in different directions. Travel nursing is a bit like dating- you meet someone, go through the introductions, decide to hook up. Sometimes there is an instant click, and a honeymoon phase commences. Things seem all sunshine and roses, and then the frustrations start. You start to annoy each other. Little things bother you, until you are ready to blow up and say screw it. As an agency nurse, you have the ability to get up and leave, that a staff position does not have. You can decline to renew your contract, or if it is just intolerable you can give notice and quit.
Other times as an agency nurse, you find yourself renewing your contract over and over. You feel connected to the place, the people, and ponder staying permanently. The thought of leaving causes anxiety. You see the flaws in the system, but you think you can change them. You think, maybe, if I work really hard and invest in this, I can make a difference. The bad boy hospital really wants to change I know it. It is suffering inside and we can make it work! So you keep renewing, and the marriage dance begins. Will they propose? will the offer be enough to accept? Should I go ahead and commit? What if it sucks? Do I really want to be committed to a sign on bonus that I have to refund if I leave?
Neither path is truly realistic. There is no “perfect hospital” or “perfect job”. No hospital administrator in shining armor on her JACHO accredited white horse to save the day. Ultimately one has to decide based on what your goals are, what you are looking for, and what needs you have. Now that I am married, and we have other things to be committed to, I am contemplating taking a staff position. Ultimately, my goal is to have a house and hopefully a baby. This requires a certain amount of permanence. Yes, there still is part of me that very much wants to just put it all in storage and travel from city to city. I would love to go to far away and exotic locations, to have hospitals talk to me with a sultry accent and woo me with new procedures and policies. To have that thrill of exploring a new city, not knowing what is around the next corner.
However, now I have someone else to consider. The truth is, its not fun traveling without your loved ones. It sucks and is very very hard. He is not in a position to travel right now, so I need to consider what will work for both of us. There are other benefits to a staff position. mainly…. benefits. As an agency nurse you can usually get at least a 401K and health insurance, though it is very expensive. The problem is the other benefits- PTO, ELB, short term disability. those are not offered as a travel nurse. If you do not work, you do not get paid. So you have to plan for time off, and save for it. That is all fine and well if everything goes according to plan, but sometimes it does not. Additionally, if I am lucky enough to get pregnant, there is no promise I can work through all of it. There are risks associated and a good chance I could end up not able to work. I need to take that into consideration.
So, at this juncture, I am contemplating my options. Continue the sexy, slightly risky path of travel nursing, or take the committed path of staff nurse. Not sure what I will do, but I will keep you all posted.