If you talk to a travel nurse, most will tell you that they are Loving living life 13 weeks at a time. Why 13 weeks? 13 Weeks is the typical time-frame for most travel nursing contracts. Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t contracts out there that are shorter or longer than 13 weeks, but 13 weeks is the norm in the industry. I’ve been living my life 13 weeks at a time for the past 8 years and I love it.
What are the advantages to living life 13 weeks at a time?
It doesn’t matter if it’s a great contract or a horrible one. I can start counting down to the final week from day #1. If it’s a horrible contract, it helps to know that it’s only temporary. If it’s a wonderful contract, it can simply be 13 weeks without worries.
I’m never more than 13 weeks away from a break from nursing. There have been times when I have extended my contract and ended up with count-downs longer than 13 weeks, but even with an extension I’m usually under 13 weeks left on contract. I try not to extend a contract until I’m down to under 6 weeks and rarely have I extended for a full 13 weeks. When you look at the incidence of ‘burnout’ in nurses; this is a top perk.
I can decide if I want to work over the holidays or not. By pre-planning your life 13 weeks at a time; you can choose if you will be on contract over important holidays or events. This does require some pre-planning but it’s more than worth it. I know many travel nurses that haven’t worked a Christmas since they began traveling. They always work it out so the contract ends before the holidays and they don’t accept a new contract until after the holidays. I prefer to work the holidays and plan my time off either before or after the holiday. Travel during the holiday season is a nightmare as is attempting to see all of my family members. Besides, home for me is Indiana and I would rather visit when the weather is more pleasant….anytime between June and October.
By living life 13 weeks at a time, I can choose to work back to back contracts or I can take as much time as I want/need off between contracts. Do you need 2 weeks to recoup and rebound from work? Perhaps you’re having a new grand-baby and need 8 weeks to help out. Whatever the need, it can be accommodated with a little pre-planning.
Total avoidance of boredom If you get bored easily, travel nursing might be for you. 13 weeks is the perfect amount of time on the job.
What is it like living life 13 weeks at a time?
• Week #1 Excitement/Fear/Introductions.
The first week will fly by as you attend orientation, try to find your way back and forth to work and to the local grocery store. Simply attempting to remember my co-workers names is a task in itself for me.
• Week #2-4 Learning curve.
Learning your routine, new policies, new procedures. The amount of time that this takes varies from person to person. I’ve found that my average is 2-4 weeks.
• Weeks # 4-6 For me weeks 4-6 are when I begin to fall into a good groove on the job.
I can finally find most of the supplies, know how to contact the physicians and the pharmacy and can lose some of the ‘newbie’ jitters. Weeks 4-6 are also when I can start getting to know the staff. During the weeks prior, I generally have no extra time as I’m attempting to fit into the routine as learn everything. Now I have time to slow down and say hello.
• Weeks #6-10 This is prime time to take in the sights.
Work isn’t as exhausting as in the first 6 weeks and I now feel like I can enjoy my surroundings during my time off. Take a weekend to explore a nearby tourist stop, schedule walking tours of the city, meet-up with locals for dinner or drinks. Get out and enjoy being in a new city.
• Weeks 10-13 This is where things can become monotonous for me.
I’m becoming bored on the job. “Nurse Jane’s” quirky habit is driving me crazy. I begin to become frustrated with the lack of __________ (fill in the blank) on the job. Those little things that I didn’t have time to think about during my learning curve are now much more prevalent The good news is that during the last 3 weeks on contract, I’m researching where to go next. I’m chatting with my recruiter and seeking the next adventure (or planning for that much needed time off). Either way, my thoughts are now focused on the ‘next 13 weeks’.
If you’re like me and get bored easily, thrive on change, adventure and the unknown…maybe you should try living life 13 weeks at a time.
Guest post..Bio: A travel nursing educator, Candy aka Gypsy Nurse, RN has worked in healthcare for nearly 20 years, working up the ranks from CNA to LPN to RN. For the past eight years, she’s worked as a travel nurse, allowing her to practice and live in 14 states throughout the U.S. She regularly shares advice for those interested in travel nurse jobs on her website at: www.thegypsynurse.com.