Imagine venturing off to different parts of the country, experiencing the culture, people, places, food, and being able to make a good income while doing it. Travel nursing is one of those jobs you speak of and those listening will be in disbelief that such a unique lifestyle is possible.
While boosting your resume, gaining knowledge through each new hospital, and expanding your horizons, you must maintain flexibility. This is because you may not be in one spot for too long.
You may be needed in another hospital in another state, even if you enjoy your current location immensely. With contracts typically lasting 13-weeks, hospitals will subsequently decide if they need you to stay, or if you can be better utilized elsewhere. However, a contract won’t last forever.
Can Travel Nurses Choose Where They Go?
You might have some specific destinations in mind to work at if you’re interested in travel nursing. Perhaps there’s an area you’ve always wanted to visit. Maybe you have some locations you do not want to consider.
It’s normal to have preferences about where you’ll be assigned as a travel nurse. However, it’s important to remember that temporary assignments only open up where there is a need for additional nursing staff. Traveling nurse contracts fluctuate, and every nurse has their preferences, so other nurses might also be interested in your top assignments.
From the available assignments, you’ll have some choice in where you want to go. You and your staffing agency will work together to find the best contracts for you. It’s important to keep in mind that less popular assignments sometimes come with added financial perks to make the contract more appealing. It pays to be flexible!
How Long Are Travel Nursing Assignments?
Contract jobs for nurses can vary in length. The most common arrangement is a 13-week contract, typically with housing assistance. However, there are certainly shorter and longer contract nurse jobs, and you may take contracts of different lengths throughout your career as a travel nurse.
The length of a contract could influence your choice of assignment. If you have something coming up and you need a short contract or prefer variety, then 4-week travel nurse assignments could be a good choice. If you rather stay in one place a bit longer and get to know the area, then standard +13-week contracts might be a better fit.
Extending a Travel Nurse Contract
There are inevitably circumstances where you love where you are. Maybe you enjoy the way the hospital operates or have made some great acquaintances and genuinely enjoy the area. All are completely valid reasons and a good sign that you have not experienced nurse burnout. Despite the way you feel about it, you are not always guaranteed an extension and it may not always be a possibility.
If staying is something you want, contact your recruiter ASAP and let them know your situation. Only then can they begin to work on helping you extend your contract, and the sooner they can get started, the better.
Once you have been accepted, you are only allowed to extend your contract up to 12 months. Once the year is over, you must move on to your next destination. As an IRS guideline, this rule is put in place for tax benefits along with a host of other conditions. This means your contract can be renewed four times before you must start your adventure in another part of the country.
How Long Can a Travel Nurse Stay in One State?
You will need to be licensed wherever you accept travel nurse assignments. However, that’s not the only limitation on where and for how long you can work in one state. After you have extended a contract up to a year, you will need to work in another area but won’t necessarily need to leave the state.
As some states are quite large, you could remain in one state indefinitely. Keep in mind that if you keep returning to the same general area, it could eventually have tax implications. There are long-term considerations to think about when you decide to work in the same areas over and over.
Tax Considerations of Travel Nursing
The biggest concern about staying in one place as a travel nurse is the tax implications. The IRS defines a “tax home” and you are taxed based on that address. If you earn money as a traveling nurse, some expenses are tax-deductible, meaning saving on your tax bill.
If you start earning most of your income in an area that’s different from your tax home, you’ll be taxed based on that area’s rate or classified as an itinerant worker. In both of these scenarios, you won’t enjoy the tax-free benefits on your expenses, meaning your take-home pay will be reduced.
As a travel nurse, it’s in your best financial interests to move around and take contracts in areas with the greatest need. Not only will you be making a difference, but you’ll save on your travel nurse taxes!
Finding Adventure Wherever You Go
Flexibility, reliability, and professionalism will be your best assets as a travel nurse. In a job that gives you so much adventure and exploration of the country and self, it is a great opportunity for anyone. The experiences you’ll gain inside different hospitals are extensive and can elevate your career in so many ways.
The point of being a travel nurse is to, well, travel! Pitching in and seeing how people live across the country will broaden your horizons, provide new perspectives, and allow you to build new skills. Find new adventures until you’re ready to settle down in one place again with a permanent position.
Starting Your Travel Nursing Journey
Getting started as a travel nurse doesn’t have to be intimidating. A high-quality staffing agency will help ensure that you get the best possible placements and help you with all the logistics.
If you are interested in beginning a career in travel nursing, here at TheraEx, we support you through the process. We work to provide you with the best opportunity that works for you. You can find more information here or feel free to ask any questions you need here. We look forward to working with you!