By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
Each travel nurse sets out on their journey with a slightly different goal in mind. Some are looking for the best money, while others simply want the means to take extended vacations and explore as much as possible. A lot of travelers are simply trying to see as much as they can while they travel because for many this lifestyle is temporary.
Because of this, it may seem absurd to think about taking an assignment somewhere you have already worked as a travel nurse previously. However, I truly believe that your personal happiness and satisfaction is more important than following the idea of what you are “supposed” to do in any given situation.
In 2018 my husband and I were lucky enough to score assignments in Phoenix during the high season–meaning we hit the best weather the city had to offer. Later that year when I got an email asking if I would like to return for flu season at my previous assignment, we struggled between the idea of repeating an area “too soon” and going on to explore somewhere new. Ultimately we decided to head back for another beautiful winter in Phoenix, and it solidified our convictions that there is nothing wrong with repeating a location you truly love. In fact, there are some huge perks that come along with doing so.
1. You may have an easy in for a travel nurse job.
A lot of hospitals will give preference to travelers who left on good terms previously. I have personally done repeat assignments at two hospitals, and the whole process was much easier than working at a new facility. Your resume typically gets pushed to the top of the pile if you are returning staff, which also means you should get the first choice on shift and floors as well. Conversely, if you did not love your previous assignment you will know what facilities or companies to avoid which can be just as helpful.
2. Housing is less stressful when you know the area.
Even if you don’t necessarily want to return to your exact situation as before, it is so much easier to find housing in a city you are somewhat familiar with. You don’t have to worry about safety or traffic or if an area would be a fun place to live because you probably already have an idea. Also, if you connected with anyone in the city during a previous assignment, you can reach out to them for help when looking for housing.
3. You can make time for trips that require a little more planning.
Ever get ten weeks into your assignment only to find out about this really cool, amazing adventure that’s only three hours away but requires three months’ notice to book? Or find out about a must-try restaurant two days before you leave town? Despite having three months to explore an area, it is almost impossible to hit every single thing you want to see or do in that time frame. If you circle back to a familiar location you can actually plan ahead for these more hidden gems of trips or activities. In addition, you can ask off for the time needed to explore these areas in your contract.
4. There may be a social circle you can jump back into.
Whether you are into church or gym classes or just really loved your coworkers, it can be nice to go back to a place where you already have a small community to jump back into. As travel nurses, we are generally pretty good at making friends with anyone, but getting others to warm up to us can be tricky. When you are already a familiar face walking back in people will typically be a little more open from the beginning, which is comforting.
5. Sometimes it is just nice to be familiar with an area.
While travel nurses are great at adapting and learning new cities and units and navigating new people, it can get exhausting at times. If you are feeling emotionally spent or even burnt out, going back to somewhere familiar can lessen your overall stress and prove more relaxing than a brand new city and hospital. Don’t be afraid to circle back to an old location just because it feels like you need an easy thirteen weeks–there is nothing wrong with that!
Whether you left an assignment feeling like there was still more to see or you just really really loved a certain area, there is nothing wrong with making a U-turn on your travel assignment every once in a while. The beauty of working as a travel nurse is your path can go in whatever direction seems right for you and your life at any given time. Don’t be afraid to take a little stress off your shoulders and go back to a well-loved assignment if the time feels right. The new and unfamiliar will still be waiting when you get done.
Alex McCoy currently works as a pediatric travel nurse. She has a passion for health and fitness, which led her to start Fit Travel Life in 2016. She travels with her husband, their cat, Autumn and their dog, Summer. She enjoys hiking, lifting weights, and trying the best local coffee and wine.
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