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I made $220,000 last year as a travel nurse — triple my salary
before the pandemic. Here are the perks and downsides to
From: The Business Insider
Publisher: Newstex LLC
Document Type: Article
Length: 966 words
Lexile Measure: 1220L
Anna Reese, 26, is a travel nurse currently based in San Diego, California.
She started working as a travel nurse during the pandemic and says the hours can be long.
Here’s what her job is like, as told to writer Kaila Yu.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Anna Reese, a travel nurse based in San Diego, California, about her job. It has
been edited for length and clarity.
I’ve wanted to be a nurse since I was young. My grandfather got a heart transplant when I was 13 and his nurses were inspirational —
they were incredibly kind and made such an impact on his care, it made me want to do the same.
After high school, I moved from North Carolina to attend the University of Colorado-Denver and got my BS in nursing. My first job
after graduating in 2019 was at Johns Hopkins in its cardiovascular surgical ICU in Baltimore, Maryland.
It was a dream come true, and I was fortunate to receive the training to care for some of the sickest patients in the country.
I never planned on becoming a travel nurse until COVID-19
After working at Johns Hopkins for a year, conditions became difficult during the first wave of the pandemic. We were working with
patients in very critical condition and limited resources.
At that time, I noticed that in Los Angeles travel nurses were making $5,000 a week. It was an easy decision to sign on for the same
job for better compensation, so I made the leap to travel nursing in September 2020.
Before that, I made $62,000 a year as a staff nurse
I started at $5,000 a week as a travel nurse in Los Angeles, using job boards like (https://www.ayahealthcare.com/) Aya Healthcare
and (https://www.vivian.com/) Vivian Health. These companies post available contracts and take a 20 to 30% commission of our pay
from the hospital.
In 2021, I made $220,000 — more than triple my salary as a staff nurse. To hit that financial benchmark, I worked a lot of overtime.
The hours are long: A full-time nurse usually works three 12-hour shifts per week
In California, overtime is anything after eight hours each day, and nurses get paid double time after 12 hours.
The base pay may be around $113 an hour, but overtime bumps that up to $170 an hour or even $250 an hour for double overtime.
I prefer 36- to 48-hour work weeks, with the option to pick up overtime.
One of the major perks of being a travel nurse is having control of your schedule
I’ve moved directly from contract to contract to pay off debt and save, but many travel nurses work a 13-week contract and take a
month or two off before signing the next because the pay is so good.
You need at least one to two years of experience as a nurse before you can start working as a travel nurse. After that, it’s possible to
apply and start immediately, because there’s such an increased need for ER and ICU nurses.
As an ICU nurse, I’m tasked to care of the most critical patients
I clock in at 7 a.m. and end my day anywhere from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. My job is to identify the less critical patients, stabilize them, and
transfer them out of the ICU when they’re ready.
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., I admit new critical patients — for example, a heart-attack patient or a COVID-19 patient who’s in respiratory
failure and needs to be put on a ventilator. It usually takes hours to stabilize them, and all the while, I’m monitoring their vital signs,
drawing blood for labs, putting them on the ventilator, monitoring their medications, and more. It’s always a hectic day.
On my days off, I’ve been posting on TikTok about my experiences as a travel nurse and sharing education on nursing and critical
care. I started in September 2020, and it’s been exciting creating an online community and meeting like-minded souls. It’s brought me
a lot of happiness, especially with the stress of COVID-19.
[tiktok-embed] (https://www.tiktok.com/@reesesrn) @reesesrn Reply to @justinebo2 (https://www.tiktok.com/tag/ad) #ad
(https://www.tiktok.com/tag/travelnurse) #travelnurse (https://www.tiktok.com/tag/ayahealthcare) #ayahealthcare
(https://www.tiktok.com/tag/travel) #travel (https://www.tiktok.com/tag/icunurse) #icunurse (https://www.tiktok.com/tag/ernurse)
#ernurse (https://www.tiktok.com/music/Thot-Shit-6972655154873796610) Thot Shit – Megan Thee Stallion [tiktok-embed]
Being flexible is a must, as contracts can be canceled or pushed back, even if you already flew across the country
One of the downsides of being a travel nurse is having to still pay your rent or mortgage back home, so you’ve got to be good with
Also, it’s not always easy to jump into hospitals struggling for staff and dealing with other issues. There was one assignment where I
was the only travel nurse and felt unwelcome and isolated.
Sometimes staff nurses can feel jealous and frustrated that we’re getting paid more. The best solution was to put my head down and
clock high-quality work. Also, I always ask the recruiter how many other travelers will be on assignment with me — I prefer not to be
the only one.
I’m passionate about my work, but I’m terrified of running out of the resources necessary for our patients during COVID-19
I can’t even count the number of times different hospitals ran out of basic supplies and resources for weeks at a time. I’ve been on
hold with coroners for hours because so many people were dying. We need structural change to our healthcare system in this
country. I hope that we have better working conditions in the future.
Otherwise, nursing is an incredible job that allows me to make a massive difference in the lives of countless people. There’s so much
that nurses can do to serve others with just their two hands.
Read the original article on (https://www.businessinsider.com/travel-nurse-tripled-salary-pandemic-perks-downsides-job-2022-2)
Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2022 Newstex LLC
Source Citation (MLA 9th Edition)
“I made $220,000 last year as a travel nurse — triple my salary before the pandemic. Here are the perks and downsides to the job.”
The Business Insider, 9 Feb. 2022, p. NA. Gale General OneFile,
link.gale.com/apps/doc/A692666935/ITOF?u=nysl_ro_robwesc&sid=bookmark-ITOF&xid=3df1fe0b. Accessed 7 Apr. 2022.
Gale Document Number: GALE|A692666935
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