If you're considering this option, use these four exercises to make a decision.
Exercise 1: What type of traveler would you be?
Travelers have many reasons for traveling, but for most of them, one particular reason will dominate. Look over the following list of travelers and circle the one that best describes you. Be honest with yourself so you can identify your goals. When you're clear about them, you'll be clear about your choice.
Exercise 2: Do you have what it takes to be a health care traveler?
After doing exercise 1, you should have a better idea about why travel appeals to you. Now is a good time to think about whether you'd be good at it. Health professionals from all walks of life and situations travel, but they do have certain characteristics in common. Traveling, by nature, tends to attract a particular kind of person-someone who's adventurous, flexible, independent, organized, friendly, assertive, and enjoys challenge. Sound like you? See how you'd fit in by responding to the questions below. Circle the answer that best describes you most of the time.
1. In the face of change, you
a. like to roll with the punches.
b. like plenty of notice so you can plan ahead.
2. At this stage in your life, which do you value more?
a. the stability of a home
b. experiencing new and different things
3. Which do you prefer?
a. the unknown
b. the known
4. When faced with new situations, you tend to
a. need time to adjust.
b. adapt quickly.
5. In unknown situations, you prefer to
a. jump in and figure things out as you go.
b. wait for instructions.
6. You describe yourself as
7. When faced with a challenge, you first look for
a. a solution by yourself.
b. outside help.
8. How would you describe yourself?
a. get homesick easily
b. free spirited
Now go back over the test and count all the even-numbered questions you answered "a," and write that total here ___. Now go back and count all the odd-numbered questions you answered "b" and write that total here ___. Add the two numbers together and write the total here ___.
Would you be a happy health care traveler? If your overall score is 3 or less, you'd probably enjoy traveling right from the start. If your score is between 4 and 6, you may not like traveling as much (or as often) as you think. Try working for a local agency to get an idea of the flexibility required for traveling. Then, if all goes well, try a travel assignment or two to see how you like it. If your score is above 6, you probably wouldn't enjoy traveling.
Exercise 3: Imagine the experience.
Assume you know that travel nursing appeals to you and think that you'd be a good fit but are hesitant to take the first step. Try this exercise to clarify what kind of experience you're seeking and what your expectations are.
Set a timer for 5 minutes and imagine the best experience you could have as a travel nurse. Think about:
- Where you want to go and why, then imagine you're really there.
- What kind of place you want to work in.
- Whether you're traveling alone or with friends or family.
- What you'd do with your time off.
- Whether you're working days, evenings, or nights.
Visualize as many details as possible. Write them down so you can see what you're expecting from travel. How do you feel now? How can you pursue it? Remember, you'll have a lot of choices about where you want to go, where you want to work, what shift you want to work, and you don't have to settle for less.
Exercise 4: Identify what you can't live without.
Write down all of the good things you imagined when you pictured yourself as a health care traveler in exercise 3. Then pare down the list to the essential things that you'd have trouble living without or compromising on. Keep those top items in mind when you're looking for an agency and assignments that interest you.
Hitting the Road: A Guide to Travel Nursing by S. Kearney, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2003.