Nursing is rarely short of opportunities for personal growth. Whether it’s through your interactions with patients, the daily challenges you have to overcome, or navigating choppy emotional waters, this is a career that contributes to your overall enrichment.
However, certain career paths may provide these personal growth benefits more than others. Travel nursing, for example, tests your nursing skills in a foreign environment — whether it’s in a different community, state, or country. With this challenge, you can learn about yourself as a person and a nurse, truly understand your capabilities, and grow from there.
Let’s take a look at how travel nursing can help you achieve personal growth and a few things you should consider to improve your potential outcomes.
Making Informed Choices
Even though travel nursing in general has the potential to help you grow as a person, it’s up to you to decide where and how you’d like to integrate this career choice in your life.
Base your decision on whether you’re ready to relocate, in general. If you have a family, it’s certainly vital to examine how traveling might affect their needs, particularly when you have young children who require a sense of stability. Don’t forget to look into whether your intended destination will have the services — recreational, medical, and others — that you need to thrive.
Be honest with yourself about how a shift into travel nursing could impact your career goals. After all, your continued path as a medical professional is key to your personal growth as well as your professional development. Registered nurse jobs are everywhere, but if you’re in a specialized field, is there enough demand to keep you reliably employed? Consider where you’d like to be not just in the next year, but also in the next five years. Would your move into travel nursing disrupt or enhance this? You may find it helpful to look at industry growth statistics in different parts of the world to assess the likelihood of continued enriching opportunities.
Finding the Right Location
You could consider prioritizing locations that are in particular need of your skills. For example, certain regions around the world, especially, rural areas are in desperate need of medical professionals with specialty knowledge such as obstetrics or emergency care. If you’re looking to stay within the U.S., there is certainly no shortage of medically underserved areas/populations (MUA/Ps). You could target destinations that experience a general county-wide lack of primary care services, or those with key populations in need, such as those experiencing homelessness or migrant farm workers.
If you’d like to go further afield, you could join an organization such as Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) or the American Red Cross. Here, you could serve developing nations, populations that are in conflict zones, or people that are in the middle of public health or natural emergencies. These opportunities provide chances for personal growth, exposing you to various cultures and perspectives.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that some destinations have a reputation for personal growth opportunities. You can prioritize your locations based on what traits, skills, or values you’d like to focus on. For instance, Alaska could expose you to both natural wonders and extreme outdoor adventure possibilities. Travel nursing in Italy or Thailand can give you opportunities to be closer to religious centers that support your spiritual growth intentions.
Getting the Most From the Experience
You can get the most personal growth from your travel nursing if you’re more intentional about how you approach it. As you know, simply drifting through any experience is unlikely to result in the most meaningful results. Take the time to put yourself out there and make choices that’ll expose you to new experiences — whether abroad or in the U.S.
First and foremost, be open to exploring new cultures and communities. Remember that some of the greatest moments of growth come from sharing the values and perspectives that are outside of your usual comfort zone. Seek out local events and celebrations. Ask locals to talk to you about the significance of certain activities and traditions. Learn a little of the local language, wherever possible.
Even if you’re just moving to another state, there’s likely to be local cultural nuances to engage with. When you make genuine efforts here, you can better understand what’s important to the people you’re interacting with and the challenges they face. This develops a greater sense of empathy and human connection, which is important both as a nurse and a rounded human being.
Another purely practical way to get the most out of the experience is to save money. This can both reduce the stress you experience when you’re away and give you more funds to put toward activities for personal growth. Utilize methods to cut the costs of travel, including travel reservation apps that provide you with a wider range of options that could suit your budget. See if you can negotiate rates with airlines or accommodation providers, particularly if your travel nursing is to serve communities in need. If you’re running your own nursing business, you may also find your travel is tax deductible, so don’t forget to claim it.
Travel nursing can combine the personal growth opportunities that naturally arise from traveling to new places and from building your career as a nurse.
There’s certainly no shortage of demand for talented nurses across the world today. You should consider this an empowering thought that gives you the space to make the choices that are right for you and where you want your nursing skills to take you.
Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, activism-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.
Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.