When working as a travel nurse, areas like California, New York, Texas, New Jersey and South Carolina are all in fairly high demand and the places we tend to veer towards. However, these aren’t the only options available to us. Though they remain such prominent places, a rural experience is also a direction you have the choice to go for. But not knowing what to expect out of this type of assignment can be daunting, so let’s break down what a rural travel nursing experience would be like.
Firstly, a rural assignment means to head out to hospitals in communities that are more agriculturally based, meaning that their main economic base is in producing or maintaining crops and farmland. These hospitals are small, predominantly having less than a hundred beds; though each area can differ, but not by much. This style of community as a travel nurse can bring unique and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but may not be for everyone. It’ll be up to you to decide whether this option can really benefit you.
What Should A Travel Nurse Expect From A Rural Experience?
You’re Work Pace Changes
Every hospital has times of slowness and times of go. With significantly more beds in larger populated areas, you’ll find yourself most likely still completing tasks even when there are quieter moments. However, for rural areas, these lulls are quite different. For instance, if you work in the ICU with only a few beds and they are all empty, then there won’t be much for you to do. Instead of sitting around and waiting, you’ll most likely be asked or required to float to different units. For some nurses this may be an option not very much appreciated, on the other hand, to be in a position where you are able to experience other specialties in other units can expand your knowledge and medical practices quite significantly.
Your Housing Could Be Tricky
Tricky being the operative word as you can see it as a burden or see it as an opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone. Essentially, rural areas don’t often have apartment complexes scattered everywhere, so finding a temporary place for your 13-week assignment could be a little difficult. Even if there is an apartment complex, leasing requirements could be a little sideways with steep premiums. Alongside a potential hotel accommodation, what you’ll acquire instead is what they dub an in-Law Quarter. This entails a somewhat self-sufficient unit that is in the main house. You could also find yourself in a Granny Flat, which is a small self-sufficient apartment next to the main house. Or, you could find yourself becoming a roommate of a local family. The best way to understand exactly what your options are going to be is by discussing this in your interview. Your questions won’t be uncommon, so you’ll be able to find out about your options straight.
You’ll Gain Valuable Learning Lessons
For the most part, urban living and urban working are what we know. In hospital environments, you generally head into work with your specific skill sets being used in the specific department you were hired for and you do your best there. When it comes to rural working, you will be urged to utilize your skills in not only new but also more challenging ways. You will be working with a different demographic, in patients and co-workers, and will experience an array of different emergencies, illnesses, ailments and circumstances. While also being asked to potentially float – as stated previously – you’ll be learning valuable lessons in such an environment. On top of this, many use this time to double down on completing extra work. Whether it’s wanting to further your education, choosing a more challenging post or taking on any additional training.
You’ll Experience An Open Armed Welcome
While an urban area will have you checking out popular restaurants, nightclubs and busy attractions, a rural location will be a little timider. But not disappointing. You will be looking at a more personal experience. For instance, instead of heading out to a fancy dinner, you may be invited to a co-worker’s home. This may also direct you towards more unique types of attractions and eateries as each town will have their own version of these. Essentially, you’ll find yourself more taken in by the community of nurses around you, as well as the community outside. You will be the new travel nurse that has come to help, and everyone will know that!
You’ll Enjoy The Great Outdoors
As we already mentioned, attractions are to each their own in every town. You may find yourself a short distance from a beach, in range of a big hike in the area or simply checking out the landmarks around. Even other towns can be sought out and their own quirky attractions can be visited. Basically, we’re saying that although you’ll be in a not-so-popular area, there will be things that you can do. You just have to be ready and willing to discover what you have around you.
A rural assignment won’t leave you in some random place with nothing to do or see. Despite the common misconceptions, you can really make the most of the experience. Working in smaller hospitals isn’t all about waiting in boredom. Your knowledge around work can grow substantially and you’ll find yourself learning things way outside your comfort zone, in the best way. You can create a personal experience with all of your coworkers and the community who will definitely know you’ve arrived. Best of all, as a 13-week assignment, you can learn a lot about yourself and how you can function in such alternate circumstances. It’s just as much of a full experience as it would be if you would work in a more common area, just think fewer people and more time.