travel nursing storiesFor those contemplating the travel nurse field: The best way to learn about the travel nursing field is from those who are actually in the travel nursing trenches.

The following are the travel nursing stories that have been sent to me by other traveling nurses.

Jill from Florida

Jill is an ER nurse who places salary and benefits as her top priorities.  She has been traveling under a year with PPR Travel.

Her first travel job was to Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida.  It was a seven teen bed emergency room in which the staff was very friendly.  Nurse patient ratio was hard at times was six to one.  But when you went to the charge nurse and told them you would take no more, they would listen. All in all it was tolerable for thirteen weeks.

She would like to remind first timers to be very flexible. Get some experience before you start. They expect travelers to come in and need very little instruction. Always keep a sense of humor. Also smile a lot. You only have to put up with where you are for thirteen weeks, unlike the full time staff that are there year after year.


Joan from North Carolina

Joan is a labor and delivery nurse who places location and benefits as her reasons for traveling.  She has been traveling for under a year with Bridgestaffing.  Her favorite city has been Richmond, VA.

This is my first travel assignment experience, and she feel like she made the right decision to quit her job of 16 years and start traveling.  Chippenham Johnston Willis Hospital L&D department in Richmond, VA, has made my first assignment a very positive experience.  They asked her to take another assignment and she resigned another eight week contract because of the staff and doctors that she works with.  She felt like she have made lasting friendships and will be sad to leave Richmond, VA, but she look forward to expanding my travel career that she have started.

She would like to remind first timers to do your homework and decide what is most important to you as salary, benefits, and etc before signing a contract.


Eileen from Washington

Eileen is an OB nurse who places salary and a great recruiter as her top priorities.  She takes the two bedroom housing provided by the Quest Group and has been traveling for almost five years.  Her favorite assignment was in Oak Harbor, WA at the Naval Hospital with her least favorite being Centralia, WA.

Her first traveling experience was awful! There were nurses who were rude and basically mean to her.  The charge nurses dumped her patients on her and she went back and then the charge nurse slept until six in the morning. Then blamed her for not charting on her patients! She told her she’d already assessed and charted on them!  The nurse manager was very rude.  She even had two of the worst deliveries of her career at the hospital…  both on the same night! 

She would like to remind first timers to remember that  you are a guest at the hospital where you are assigned. Act in a professional polite manner. Know your skill level and limitations and be honest and be up front about it. Know that you will learn something new from every hospital you work at. Look at each new assignment in that light, and don’t try to go in and tell the place how it should be run, or find fault continuously. This is one huge mistake she find travelers do too frequently. It makes the staff dislike you. Look to learn from them, but know what the standards of care are and follow them. Also realize that you will be watched closely at first in most places until the staff is sure of you and your skills. Stand up for your patients, and yourself. Don’t let them dump on you but don’t sit on your butt and read a magazine when the rest of the staff is running either. Watch the other staff and see what they do that maybe they haven’t told you about. Buy a clear plastic badge holder to wear with your name badge, and place a card in it that contains all the most frequently needed phone numbers you will likely need on the spur of the moment. For example: she works L&D so she put the docs contact numbers on my badge, the supervisors number, the other areas of the unit’s phone numbers. This allows her to know exactly where the number is when you need it. Saves time when in a hurry. If you don’t have a recruiter who works for you to iron out the problems that are sure to arise during a contract then find one who will. That doesn’t mean you have to leave the company, but you might have to ask for a new recruiter. Get a good tax advisor. Track all your mileage, keep good records. Pack light. Most of all Have FUN!!


Kay from Missouri

Kay is an emergency room nurse who travels for the great salary and benefits.  She has been traveling for over a year now with her favorite city being Tucson, AZ.

At her first assignment the hospital staff was mostly nice, except for one vicious physician and tech.  The patients and staff were primarily speaking Spanish.  She was in a dangerous area of town, dangerous staff/patient ratios insecure working environment.  Luckily she had good company, good recruiter, nice apartment and husband to keep her sane. Even with the nice staff would not return to this facility unless safety was addressed.

She would like to remind first timers not to go until you are competent in the area you are presenting yourself for and to have a backup plan if contract or company falls through and backup cash. Don’t take anything personal and expect bumps in plan with pay/housing/hospital etc. Do not expect orientation, they expect you to work without it.


Steve from Ohio

Steve is an intensive care nurse who places salary and location has his top priorities. He takes the one bedroom paid for from Professional Respiratory Care Services.  He once traveled with World Health, but never again.  His favorite place was San Francisco with his least favorite assignment being Summerlin Medical and Las Vegas, NV.

He had a great first time Great 1st time experience in Arizona in a MICU. Staff was incredibly friendly and management treated travelers like staff. It gave him a great taste about traveling.

His hints for a first time traveler?  “Before you take your 1st assignment you must evaluate what is important to you ie money, location, housing, benefits and don’t sacrifice the important ones. There are many companies out there. Be sure to interview the hospital management before excepting to get an idea of the unit/hospital and expectations…”


W.C. from Ohio

W.C. is a critical care nurse who travel for the great benefits, salary and location.  They have been traveling for almost two years now and finds their own housing.  This traveler is currently with On Assignment, but would change companies if something better came along.  Their favorite city has been Richmond, VA, with Providence, RI, being their least favorite.

Their first time experience was great!  It was a small hospital in Weirton, WV. They had excellent staffing, and WC worked both telemetry and the cardiac care unit for six months.  It was very traveler friendly, and really set her views on traveling as something she will do for a long time!

Her pointers for first timer include:  Not getting involved with all the hospital politics, keep smiling, help the other staff but remember who helps you also! Never compromise your nursing values no matter what. Stand your ground and fight for what you believe in. Always research the company you are considering working for as well as the hospital you are considering traveling to and above all, Always! Always! get everything in writing no matter how nice the recruiter or company sounds. In closing just remember the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!!!!! Good Luck! and Have Fun!!


Chris from New York

Chris is a surgical technologist who travels for the love of money, benefits, location, and recruiter.  He takes the two bedroom housing from Preferred Healthcare.  He has been traveling for almost two years.  His favorite assignments have been San Jose, San Francisco, and Palto Alto related to the beautiful weather.  Most of the assignments have been good, with the worst being UCSF-San Francisco. 

He was scared, and paranoid all the time knowing that he didn’t know anyone in California.  I felt home sick for several days; however, it is kind of cool because he learned to be independent and know myself better.  Also, traveling is the wisest decision he has ever made.

What would he like to tell first time travelers?  “You’ll meet very cool travelers and you will always look out for each other.  Referring only to travelers!  You will be able to discover certain cities that you have never been to.  It is pretty exciting!  Although, for first time travelers, please do not let any recruiter fool you.  Please do a lot of research with any travel nursing company.  Hmm, also kind of make your own list of all the things that you want within your company before signing any contracts.  Ask as many questions as you want and if you feel can’t get any answer to your question then drop that company ASAP!”


Gloria from Florida

Gloria works in the emergency and has been traveling for over six years.  She places her priorities on a great recruiter and salary.  She takes the one bedroom paid for by Nationwide Nurses.  She loved the Southwest and Arizona, but hated Nebraska.

She had her first travel experience with Nationwide Nurses and they will have her last until she retires. She did try two other travel companies in between assignments not because she was not happy with Nationwide but because she really wanted a state they did not have much in, and oh man, what a mistake. She wont name any names but the travel experience was horrible, both other companies actually! She went back to Nationwide Nurses and it has been smooth sailing. My recruiter is Awesome! They call her back if she ever needs her and most of the time can get right through to her. The housing is the best and she even takes her dogs!

She would like to remind first timers to be honest and open with what you want, ask questions and be sure to tell your agency any worries or concerns you have.


Michele from Oklahoma

Michele is an intensive care nurse who places salary and benefits as her top priorities with a great recruiter and excellent location next.  She takes the two bedrooms paid for and has been traveling for almost five years.  She is currently with Medical Express after a disaster experience with Premier Healthcare.  Her least favorite has assignment was in Oakland, CA, and Hopewell, VA, with Tucson, AZ her favorite.

With her first assignment, her recruiter was wonderful! It was a challenge for her to leave my home and live on the road. If asked to do it again, she would in a heartbeat!

She would like to remind first timers to listen to seasoned travelers…they have the experience on how to deal with companies, situations, and a lousy travel job. If you are not flexible and are not able to pick up new things quickly, it’s not time yet for you. Always hook up with other travelers to hang out with when you’re in a new city/town.


Gay from Louisiana

Gay is a PACU nurse that has been traveling for almost five years.  She is currently traveling with Cross Country TravCorp, but would consider another company.  Her favorite city has been Albuquerque, NM.

Her first assignment was at Memorial in Modesto, Ca. Everyone was very friendly. They were especially sweet since she had just been through Katrina. The job was easy compared to the work to my pre travel job.

She would like to remind the newbies to go in with a good attitude. Be happy. It makes the staff feel good and they respond in a friendly manner. You also get good evaluations when they like you. Just don’t sweat the small stuff. Although she thinks that this is easier said since she works PACU. You would never have more than two pts at a time in any reputable hospital. She thinks that other units could be much more difficult to travel to.


Emily from Michigan

Emily is a labor and delivery nurse who travels for the great salary, but always wants a great recruiter.  She has been traveling for almost two years with Nova Pro.  Her favorite city has been Denver, CO, with Reno, NV, being her least favorite.

Her first travel experience was in Denver at Exempla Lutheran. This was a great hospital and very friendly to travelers. My experience in Reno Nevada…well lets just say she probably would not have chosen this hospital had she interviewed with the actual unit instead of her company and was given the correct information!

She would like to remind new travelers that if you have found a good travel company and have started the interviewing process, please try to interview with the unit itself.  She has found that if the travel company interviews you they may have information about the unit that is either old, wrong, or hasn’t been updated. Sometimes this information can determine whether or not you choose the hospital.


Jasmin from Florida

Jasmin is a critical/intensive care and PACU nurse which places money and location has very important to her with benefits and a great recruiter ranking next.  She takes the housing stipend as she travels with HRN Services.  Her favorite city has been San Francisco.

She enjoyed her first travel assignment. If you’re flexible, if you’re outgoing, and you value teamwork, you’re not going to be upset with travelers always floating, having the worst patients, etc. she had a great agency and great recruiter.

Her advice to first timers would include:  Don’t always go with the bigger companies, such as American Mobile, Cross Country, etc. There are some great mid size to smaller companies. As a first time traveler, traveling to San Fran by myself, HRN provided her a great package. If she did ever get bored, she would always be able to pick up extra shift at the hospital she was assigned or they would provide other per diem at a same day surgery, school of dentistry, etc. Higher hourly wages does not always mean you’re going to get the most out of your pay stub. Look at the whole package!


Mary from Arizona

Mary is a PICU nurse who travels related to a great location and top salary followed by benefits and a great recruiter.  She takes the one bedroom that is paid for by RN Network.  She had a horrible experience with AMN Healthcare.  Her favorite assignment was in Salt Lake City with Indianapolis being her least favorite.  Her assignment at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, was a disaster!

First assignment was San Diego CA in 1989 – She had a great experience both at work and off work. She stayed 6 months and only experienced one earthquake!

She would like to remind first timers to take one third of what you think you will need! Do remember to take a few things that will help with homesickness… I don’t care how old you are, a little something familiar is comforting on those odd “blue” days. Also, before you go – practice eating at restaurants and going to movies alone. 


Margaret from California

Margaret is a NICU nurse who places her priorities on a great salary and terrific recruiter.  She takes the stipend and finds her own housing.  She has been traveling for under a year.  She was with Preferred Healthcare, but have a rough time, switched to Procel.  Her favorite assignment was in Irvine, CA, with her least favorite being in Long Beach, CA.

It has been wonderful! I started at Irvine Regional Hospital, a small, close-knit facility. she was welcomed by management and staff nurses alike. They have patiently answered all of her questions and there has always been someone around to help if needed. The equipment may not be the most up-to-date, but it is well-maintained and suits the purpose. Ancillary staff and volunteers are so nice and helpful as well. There doesn’t seem to be an overwhelming amount of policies and procedures to worry about, but she didn’t  feel as though someone is waiting just around the corner to write her up.

She would like to remind first timers to, “Get everything in writing! Just as the saying “If it isn’t charted then it wasn’t done” applies to a legal case, “If it isn’t in the contract then it isn’t guaranteed” applies to the assignment. Enjoy your assignment! Have fun in whatever city you’re assigned in! You’re only there for up to 13 weeks-go with the flow, don’t try to change anything and for goodness sake, stay out of the politics! Don’t worry if others don’t like you or resent the fact that you make more money-if they wanted to make the same general wages then they can apply to a travel agency just like you did.”


Jim from South Carolina

Jim is a med/surg, renal, orthopedics, and oncology nurse who places his priorities on a great recruiter and top salary.  He takes the two bedroom that Trinity Healthcare pays for.  His favorite city has been Greenville, NC, with Fayetteville, NC, being his least favorite.

My first experience at Roper of Charleston, SC was scary. He had to take the PBDS test and was told that if he didn’t make it then the contract will be canceled. His recruiter was very supportive, even had housing ready even before he took the test. The nurse manager was very hard to deal with, asking him what my dream schedule was and then giving him the exact opposite.  He “got” to work every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for two months.  When he talked to the nurse manager, she said “You are a traveler and very expensive.  My core staff is more important so they get their schedule first”. On top of that she cut his contract early which was Godsend and a neurology unit hired him where he had a very nice experience.

His hints to a first timer include:  Be flexible. If bad things happen during your thirteen week contract, suck it in and enjoy going around. Have friends, they make your life less miserable. Research the place and hospital before asking your recruiter to submit you. Also ask your recruiter if they sent anyone to that place before. Good luck and have fun!


Deb in Indiana

Deb is a critical care nurse who places location has her top priority followed by salary, benefits, and a great recruiter.  She takes the one bedroom paid housing and has been traveling for almost two years.  She is currently traveling with AMN Healthcare after a horrible experience with Cirrus Medical.  Her favorite city has been San Diego, with Philadelphia being her least favorite.

She had spoken to many travelers prior to entering traveling. Her first assignment was listed as D/N and she had no idea what that meant and my recruiter brushed over it. Once she arrived at the hospital she was informed that it was rotating shifts. Live and learn! The assignment was fine and she especially enjoyed floating as the units she floated to were so much nicer than the one she was assigned. She renewed three times and hated to leave.

She would like to remind first timers not to over pack.  It took her a few assignments to streamline my packing. She had to throw so much away from her first two assignments that she finally got her act together. She has a flatscreen television, Wii, laptop, two pairs of shoes, uniforms, small suitcase and file folders with all her paperwork. If she need things she buy them when she get there. It is so much easier to buy there than it is to pack it.


Karen from Idaho

Karen is a med/surg/ortho nurse who places benefits and a great recruiter and her top priorities.  She takes the one bedroom housing that Travel Nurse Solutions provides.  She once traveled with O’Grady Peyton, but never again!  Her favorite town has been Columbia, MO, with Phoenix, AZ, being her least favorite.

Her first time experience was very nice, at her home state in a small town with great people who were glad to have her there.

Her advice to a first timer would include:  If you need good insurance, try to get all the details before you make the decision to go with the particular company. Some have really crappy insurance plans, others have excellent.

June from North Carolina

June is a labor and delivery nurse that travels for the salary and great location followed by benefits and a great recruiter.  She has been traveling for under a year and takes the housing stipend.  She has been traveling the Premier Healthcare Professional with her favorite city being Jacksonville, NC.

Her first travel experience was at Onslow memorial in Jacksonville for five months and she loved it.  The nurses worked well as a team and were friendly to travelers. They treated her like family which is why she stayed for three contracts.  Labor and delivery is busy but staffing is pretty good for the most part. Some of the doctors are a pain, but that’s anywhere you go. Although there were a lot of inductions and epidurals, they had an awesome anesthesia staff.  It seemed like they did a lot of c-sections.  Although they still have paper charter, it was a very good place to work.

Her hints to a first timer would include:  Stay out of the hospital politics at all cost!  She kept on having to learn that one!  Maybe extend once but then move on. I’ve stayed so long that it was hard to say goodbye, and that isn’t good when you’re a traveler!

Debbie from Virginia

Debbie is a labor and delivery nurse who places her priorities on a great salary and benefits.  She travels in her RV with American Mobile.  At one time she was with Nova Pro, but never again!  Her favorite assignment was in Alexandria, VA with Sentara Norfolk General Hospital being her worst assignment.

She worked in a fairly new hospital with a new staff, so it was difficult coming in as a traveler and the most experienced nurse most nights she worked. However, the nurses were welcoming and so happy to have her there, and worked so well together and with me. The doctors were unhappy and difficult, because they were used to working with an inexperienced staff. She enjoyed my time there but was happy to leave and move on to a place where she felt she could learn something new and not be the one teaching.

She would like to remind newbies not to get involved in the politics, gossip, etc. Keep your mouth shut and your mind open if you hear staff complaining about the facility or each other. SMILE constantly. Insist on respect from the doctors, introduce yourself and tell them your credentials and years of experience. Be ready to hit the floor running, don’t complain, but don’t let anyone complain about you either! You can be a breath of fresh air for a staff that is overworked and stressed, so have fun and enjoy meeting new people and having new experiences.

Denise from South Carolina

            Denise is an adult ICU, CCU, and Trauma nurse who values money, benefits, location and a great recruiter.  She prefers two bedroom housing and doesn’t mind paying a little.  She has been traveling for 10 years and looking for only the top pay.  She prefers to make over $40/hour and loves a company with longevity and education benefits.  Her least favorite hospitals have been Kaisers, Seton Medical Center, and Alta Bates Summit.  Her favorite cities have been Santa Rosa and Pleasanton.  Her least favorite have been San Jose, and Oakland in California.  She prefers to work 12 hour days with alternating weekends off.  She also prefers teaching hospitals with support and transporters.  She would like to tell a first timer that, “You are a visitor.  Do not try to change things.  Always smile and help your co-workers.”

Jennifer from Colorado

            Jennifer is a Critical Care nurse who prefers a great salary and great location.  She has been traveling for under a year with Aya Healthcare.  Get it all in writing, if it’s not, it never happened. Don’t let your recruiter fast talk you. Go in with a positive attitude (and chocolate). Expect to be floated, and take the crappy assignments. Enjoy where you are!!!!

Carol from Texas

            Carol is a perioperative and circulating nurse for the OR.  She places recruiter and salary tops on her list!  She has been traveling for 4 years with several different companies.  Her only disaster was with Cross Country.  Her favorite city has been Dover, NH, with her least being Frisco, CO.

About her first assignment she writes, “It was fun, and a learning experience. My first assignment was a small, 2 OR hospital in Colorado during ski season. I love ortho, so I got a lot of that, that season. Of course there were some negatives, but I would rather remember the good experience and the great people I met and worked with there, instead of the few “bad apples”. It does take a special person to travel and it isnt for everyone.”

And she would like other travel nurses to, “Be open, friendly and remember there is more than one way to do something. Some things even change in different parts of the country. Be open to new experiences and don’t prejudge what people will be like. I have met some wonderful friends in an area of the country I was told was not very friendly. Enjoy yourself, make the best of any situation and explore. You may never be there again.”

Kim from Missouri

            Kim is an ICU/PACU nurse from Missouri that has been traveling for 3 years.  She was not impressed with the staff at American Mobile, but liked her recruiter.  She is in between assignment now.  She prefers to take the two bedroom and pay a little, and she travels on the basis of location and the recruiter.  Her favorite city has been Eugene, ORm with her least favorite being New Haven, CT.

            She stated that her first assignment was crap.  She didn’t know what she really wanted and took whatever was available.  She would like to remind travelers to,” Figure out what is most important to you. Is it money, location, whether you have to float and to where etc. and make sure you are fully aware of expectations before you arrive.”

Anna from Alabama

Anna is an ER nurse who travels for the great benefits and prefers a totally awesome recruiter!  She takes the one bedroom apartment that is paid for by the company.  Her disaster company was Stat Staffing Solutions-Farmington Hills, MI.  Her least favorite city was Detroit MI.

About her first assignment she writes, “The hospital was great, you know its always one person you will run into that tries to damper your situation. She was rude, and didn’t offer help. But, she needed me to help her. The company did not give me my end of assignment bonus due to the nurse manager giving me a bogus review, I think they work together so the end of assignment bonuses are kept and pocketed for themselves.”

She would like to tell a nurse to get everything in writing!  Research the travel company and the area, and especially check the reviews of the hospital.

Shannon from Wyoming

Shannon is a OR nurse from Wyoming that takes the housing stipend and finds her own housing.  She has traveled two years with Premier Healthcare Professionals.  Her only disaster company was Medical Solutions.  Her least favorite was CRMC in Cheyenne, WY, with her least favorite city also being Cheyenne.  Her favorite city has been Denver.

About her first travel assignment she states, “I had a great first experience, Melissa with PHP treated me like family. I never felt like I was a work horse with PHP. I made the mistake of working with Medical Solutions on my second assignment…Never Again…! My best advice is be specific on what you want and need. Do not assume anything until it is in writing, some reps will promise you the moon and come through on nothing. Stick with a company and one rep if you find a good one. Don’t let companies tell you that no one offers first day paid medical, PHP does.” 

This is what she would like to tell a first timer, “Just always remember no matter what happens during your contract at a facility it’s temporary…you can do anything for 13 weeks.”