Nurses deal with blood, guts and tears, but for those with the stomach to handle it, nursing is a rewarding career. Nurses enjoy personal satisfaction, community trust, impressive salaries and, perhaps most impressive in today’s economy, job security: The demand for nurses should see double-digit growth over the next decade according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On top of the amazing job satisfaction that nurses experience, certain subspecialties offer enhanced benefits for nurses with flexible lifestyles.
In the United States, critical nurse shortages have led to staffing agencies that need traveling nurses. With some experience, nurses can register with an agency and be sent to assignment across the country. Hospitals use travel nursing agencies to cover vacation time, maternity leave and other staff shortages. Travel nurses receive housing in their temporary city and hourly compensation for their work. Some agencies offer a housing stipend instead of providing living arrangements.
Nurses choose which assignments to accept. Typically, work in warm, exotic or metropolitan locations pays less than cold cities or rural hospitals, but travel nurses intent on sticking to the beach can still make a great income. Travel nursing offers flexibility for nurses seeking seasonal employment or subsidized traveling.
Travel nursing is an excellent way to see the country, but it has some downsides. Occasionally, hospitals use travel nurses to cover shifts during strikes, exposing visiting nurses to potential abuse from strikers. Because of the shifting availability of work, travel nursing may not offer back-to-back assignments. Few agencies offer vacation time, paid sick leave or retirement benefits, but the higher hourly compensation might make up for the lack of benefits.
Caregiving in Cold Climates
Special destinations like Antarctica and Alaska offer short-term, well-paid nursing assignments. Unlike travel nursing, professionals interested in these positions apply directly to the research station or rural clinic where they want to work. Both areas offer six-month assignments in remote regions of the world accessible only by plane and only during favorable weather. Because isolated areas may be served by only one physician and one nurse, working in an isolated area gives nurses exposure to clinical procedures they won’t encounter in a regular hospital-based career.
With Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and emergency room experience, flexible nurses can work for emergency helicopter services. Nurses must be comfortable working under pressure to stabilize patients who have experienced severe trauma in rural areas. Some companies require a 24 hour on, 48 hour off schedule, making flight nursing difficult for parents of young children. Helicopters can’t accommodate nurses with excessive height or weight.
Per Diem Nursing
After working at a hospital for a few years, nurses can become per diem employees. Similar to travel nurses, per diem nurses are called in to cover staffing shortages. Unlike travel nurses, per diem nurses stay in the same location and work at a familiar hospital. Retired nurses, student nurses pursuing advanced education and others who want flexible work hours all make excellent per diem nurses. Some hospitals even offer higher pay to per diem nurses to award their flexibility.
Flexible nursing jobs are perfect for new nurses paying off schooling expenses, parents looking for part-time work while raising children or retired nurses wanting to get out of the house. No matter where someone is in their nursing career, flexible jobs should not be overlooked.
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Ruth Jennings is a trauma nurse and guest author at Best RN to BSN, where you can read her latest article on the top online RN to BSN programs available today.