Boost Your Happiness Factor with Travel Nursing

I'm happy to share this article from guest writer Anne Devine, MA, BSN.

Do you dream about experiencing a different place or climate firsthand? Would you like to experience this in a financially feasible way? Travel nursing may be for you.

Travel nursing can boost your happiness factor while enhancing your personal and professional experiences all at the same time. It provides opportunities to explore new places, make friends, extend professional networks, and learn about regional differences in best nursing practices – all while earning an attractive salary and benefits package.

 Explore New Places: Travel nursing provides short-term (usually 13 or 26 weeks at a time) opportunities to work and live in a place you choose. Select a setting that fits your current yearnings – whether it’s to experience big city life or living in a rural area. There’s no better way to explore the nuances of a place than to actually live there. You can browse nursing job boards for travel nursing opportunities and check hospital review sites like or, to read what nurses are saying about working at a specific hospital.

You can scout out which outdoor activities to explore first, and the special, off-the-beaten path places that are unknown to travel websites. You can see cultural performances that might not make it to your hometown, and learn about local history, arts and crafts, and music. If you’re a foodie, tasting regional cuisine may be your passion, as you can find the mom and pop places that serve authentic, home-style food, and explore the bounty of local farmers’ markets.

If you’ve been living in the snowy Northeast, a stint in sunny southern California may increase your pep and Vitamin D. A desert dweller from Arizona may find a tour of duty in the green, beautiful Pacific Northwest a welcome reprieve. Since contracts are short-term, you can potentially experience a variety of locations in the course of just one year. You get the picture!

Make New Friends and Extend Your Professional Network: Nurses often forge bonds that last a lifetime, whether it’s from your BSN or diploma program, graduate school cohort, or the team of nurses you work with in your first nursing job. This camaraderie doesn’t stop with your early nursing career. Along the way, you’ll meet special people you’ll want to keep in your circle, and today’s social media makes this even more possible.

Flexible schedules (such as three 12-hour shifts a week), provide time to explore an area, and what better way to enjoy it than with other travel nurses or local coworkers? Working closely with other nurses can be an intimate experience where memorable experiences are shared. These experiences can result in close friendships and admired acquaintances that can expand your professional network for a lifetime. Be sure to connect with people you value on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and other sites appropriate for your relationships. You never know when these connections may be of future benefit, professionally or personally, or when a former colleague may reach out to you for advice and information.

Learn About Regional Differences in Nursing Best Practices: Although regulatory agencies, accrediting bodies, and medical/nursing protocols dictate standards of patient care, there are regional differences in how these standards are applied. As a travel nurse, you will observe and learn from working in different settings and seeing how patient-centered care is implemented. You can also learn how local cultural and social norms affect nurse-patient interactions.

For example, as a travel nurse working in a rural hospital, you may learn how to assess health literacy so that patients can more fully benefit from the health teaching you provide. Experience in a large urban area may teach you how culturally competent nurses decipher cultural values and practices that can impact an immigrant family’s health.

These experiences will enrich your nursing repertoire of best practices that you can draw upon throughout your career. You’ll also have the opportunity to see how people work together – nurse-to-nurse and as multidisciplinary teams – and decide on the kind of healthcare/hospital environment that best suits your professional style and goals.

Earn an Attractive Salary and Benefits Package: Before signing on with a travel nursing agency, carefully research the details of their salary and benefits package. Of course it’s important to review the hourly and differential rates offered, but don’t forget about travel allowance (for getting to your new assignment), housing allowance, and other benefits, including medical and dental insurance coverage. It may be useful to meet with a tax accountant to review the overall package to ensure that it meets your financial needs and goals. Travel nursing can be financially rewarding; be sure you fully understand any additional paperwork required of you, as well as any tax implications.

It’s been said that travel has three parts: planning, traveling, and remembering. You don’t have to go anywhere to get started as a travel nurse. Begin by thinking of three places you’d like to explore. Then start your web research about travel nurse opportunities in those areas.

Finding Balance Outside The Bubble Through The Holidays

Holidays are a funny time. Christmas lights go up, Rudolph songs hum through stores and customers pummel each other for Black Friday sales. Even when life is treating us well, holidays can be a stressful time. With so much uncertainty politically, it adds a bit more tension at family gatherings, doesn’t it?

As a Nurse for many years, I have filtered the news to understanding what interests me most, such as science, healthy living, fitness and self-care related issues. That has shifted for me recently as I investigate my personal actions and the impact they have on the world. It is not enough for me to stay in my little bubble and my happy place. I am attempting to find balance in investigating true news sources, staying open to listen to other viewpoints and taking steps to align my actions with my values.

For example, I value clean water, clean air and equal rights. As Nurses, I think most of us do. Last week, while I celebrated Thanksgiving after working at the hospital, I reflected on the North Dakota Pipeline and the actions by Native Tribes, Americans and Veterans to peacefully protect the land. While it is much easier to stay in my bubble and do my part at the hospital, I needed to question myself. Are my actions aligned with my values. After watching THIS VIDEO I knew they weren’t.  I took action to transfer my money from Wells Fargo to a local credit union because big banks and our President elect are invested in this pipeline. 

Now I’m not saying we can’t have fun. Don’t boycott holiday shopping altogether; That probably wouldn’t go over too well with the kids! I invite you to do it consciously. Give some thought to how much is enough? After watching the documentary TRUE COST. I am more aware of the consequences of shopping at H&M or The Gap verses Patagonia who promotes fair and safe labor practices. This sounds like a political issue and not such a Nursing issue but where do we draw the line? This is absolutely a Nursing issue. I was enlightened by The California Occupational Nurses when I spoke at their Nursing Conference. We as Nurses are responding to the impacts of how politics impacts individual people who show up at our bedside.

After maintaining weekly blogs for nearly three years, I will be shifting the frequency of my posts to monthly and as needed. I still look forward to engaging with you and supporting all of us in self-care. What better way to do that than dial back commitments?

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I will be offering the 8-week MBSR Course in January. SAVE $50 with Early bird registration which ends December 9th. If you live outside SF, stay tuned for an online offering coming in 2017.


I'm Back In Town And Teaching Mindfulness Course

I love so much about traveling. I love exploring different cultures, creating memories with friends, and getting out of the comfort zone of the familiar auto-pilot zone. Changing our routine gives us the wake up call to see our lives with fresh eyes. I'm settling back in after extended travel and I am setting the intention to live the concept of Non-Striving. For those of you that know me, this may bring an eye roll to your face as I've been known to be a bit of a busy bee.

Learning to create a lifestyle that is more peaceful and able to navigate the ups and downs that life throws at us is one of the teachings in the comprehensive 8 week mindfulness course started by Dr. John Kabat-Zinn forty years ago. I am always amazed at the tremendous growth and progress that happens in such a short time period, which is why I am offering this course again.

So if you are afraid your mind will resemble the photo above, come join the 8 week course and I will walk you through the mindfulness course in a step by step fashion with each week building on the previous class.  If you want Anderson Cooper to convince you to do this course, then watch him talk about his experience.

To get more details on the Free Introductory class or the 8 week MBSR course, click here

Remember, Nurses get 28 units of Continuing Education credit by taking this course.

Meet Lindsay - Transplant RN to Informatics to Nursing Education

How long have you been a nurse and what areas of nursing have you work in?  I have been a nurse 12 years this July. I started out in Kidney, Liver, and Pancreas transplant. I worked as a super user for several nursing informatics projects, including building out provider and nursing care orders in UCSF’s Epic EHR over the course of the first 10 years. I have moonlighted as a nurse in a women’s outpatient setting where our focus was providing abortion post-operative care, and at an esthetic medicine clinic providing laser hair removal services. Currently I am a clinical nurse educator focused on the professional development of the adult acute and transitional care nurses at UCSF Medical Center/ UCSF Health.

What do you love most about nursing?  I love nurses. The work we do is incredible; incredibly hard, incredibly rewarding, and incredibly mind bending. What nurses do for patients is unparalleled and I love seeing nurses work their magic in all the ways that we do. Nurses in the ‘zone’ are just awesome. I also really enjoy the captive audience that many of my patients were – they helped me hone my sense of humor as much as I honed my practice.

Tell me what you consider the biggest challenges or concerns about nursing today.

·      Keeping management and support units relevant and clinically competent

·      Managing the incredibly tight margins that ACA have presented (more patients, but losing money) and the frenetic pace to keep up with the number of patients seeking care

·      Dealing with patients that 5 years ago wouldn’t survive their condition. Futility of care concerns.

What throws you off balance and how do you know you are out of balance?  Having many projects that all need to get done and have competing deadlines – a constant in my role. I have to choose between family and personal balance, and feeling happy with my work. But they both require the other to be in a good space. This has been my challenge in the past couple of years. I know because I stop being funny and playful and eat terrible things in great volumes. And I cut corners for myself.

What brings you back into balance?  I grew up figure skating and have gotten back into it recently, including taking lessons. So I go to the ice. I have also really enjoyed my fitness community – November Project. A huge friendly group that meets 3-4 days a week for a morning workout, hugs, good vibes, and a good sweat. And it is rain or shine, holiday or not, FREE. It has been a game changer – helped me to meet tons of happy, healthy people who have found balance via adventuring, learning, playing. I am a more playful person because of this community and they have really been a source of balance.

When all else fails, I run off to Tulum Mexico and unplug. It is glorious and works every time.

Tell me about your most favorite nursing job and why.  I have really liked all of my ‘gigs’ but the one that I have the most affection for was working at Women’s Options at SFGH (now ZGH) in San Francisco. Helping women of all ages and backgrounds deal with a difficult decision and time, and carrying them through it was so rewarding. I worked with the smartest group of clinicians and support staff – nurses with advanced degrees and PsyD’s, and a provider group that were not only colleagues but our teammates and friends. It was incredibly hard and incredibly rewarding.

What advice would you give to new grads starting out?  BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. People will tell you it takes 6 months, 1 year, 1.5 years. It takes as long as it takes, and it is SO worth the wait. Some will ‘get it’ faster than you, some will not. It is all about you. Focus on that, enjoy the ride, and ask all the questions. We are excited to welcome you to one of the hardest and best jobs ever.