One of the best things about a nursing career is its built-in portability. Almost every city has a healthcare system (hospitals, clinics, private practice doctors, wellness centers, etc.) so no matter where you choose to live, you’re likely to find a nursing job opening that fits.
We’d call that geographic portability.
But what about other types of portability? For example, what if you wanted to be able to travel, and use your nursing skills while doing so? What about working from home, or work location portability? What about being able to structure your work around your other personal commitments, or lifestyle portability? The great news is that nursing careers offer these and other options for structuring your work around your personal preferences and priorities.
1 – Travel portability
Travel nursing is a popular option for many nursing professionals (you must be an RN). This involves working for one of the many traveling-nurse contract firms, and having multi-week assignments in locations throughout the United States and sometimes internationally. Since your contract projects may last for a significant length of time, most agencies cover moving and housing costs (check this before you sign up with a potential employer), and salary can often be higher than it is for permanent nursing positions. Depending on the organization, some also offer retirement benefits.
Some well-known agencies in this area include Travel Nursing Central, Travel Nurse Across America, Travel Nursing, Fastaff Travel Nursing, and American Mobile Healthcare, among others. A great place to check out more information about these options and other employers is Highway Hypodermics.
(And yes, cruise lines do hire nurses, if that’s your dream job!)
2 – Work location portability
Generally, work location portability means working from home, or at a location other than your employer’s office. Although traditionally most nursing jobs were too “hands-on” to enable remote work, the introduction of telemedicine and other technology-supported nursing processes is starting to change that dynamic.
A quick check with Flexjobs, the leading clearinghouse of part-time, project, and remote-working job opportunities, lists numerous telecommuting jobs, including Member Navigator, LPN Engagement Specialist, Oncology RN Case Manager, Telephonic Nurse Case Manager, and Director, Quality Management.
Working remotely, your tools (in addition to your nursing skills and expertise) will be a computer, Internet access, and a phone, since most of your work will involve engaging with patients and coworkers virtually. You’ll need good self-management skills, but if this is a strength for you, working remotely is a great way to balance both work and personal/family commitments.
In addition to Flexjobs, you may also want to check the main nursing job sites and LinkedIn Jobs using search terms such as “remote,” “telemedicine,” “telecommute,” “virtual,” and “online.”
3 – Lifestyle portability
One way to achieve the greatest amount of portability for your nursing skills is to consider working as an independent, picking up contract nursing work where and as it aligns with your lifestyle. Two ways to consider doing this would be to 1) sign up with a temp (temporary placement) firm and take those assignments that work with your life circumstances, or 2) consider becoming a nursing “solopreneur,” establishing your own independent nursing business, possibly focusing on an area of practice or clientele where you have special skills or a personal passion.
For temp jobs (which are also a great way to try out potential employers or clients), you’ll want to check out the leading nursing contract agencies, such as AMN Healthcare, Maxim Staffing Solutions: Nursing, or one of the niche agencies like ReadyNurse, which specializes in staffing school nurses.
If you’re considering going independent, you may want to first check out the “Options FAQ” tab at the top of the website for the National Nurses in Business Association. This will give you a solid overview of what types of work independents can do, what it’s like to do it, and why this might (or might not) be a great fit for you.
Thinking about portable options
If you’re not working in a permanent, full-time place-based nursing role, what might you be doing with your nursing skills? You might be doing research, virtual patient counseling via e-mail or phone, administrative work, online training for other nurses, working with informatics and/or data, or supporting individual doctors in private practice through telemedicine activities.
Or, you might be one of the experienced nurses who are now helping out the profession by becoming an online nurse educator, such as the many instructors you’ve had at American Sentinel University.
As you can see, a career in nursing can “flex” with your life circumstances and individual priorities. Just another confirmation that you made a great career choice!