Lately I have come across comments in travel nursing forums and social media groups about how people don’t want to travel to any small, out-of-the-way and “never heard of that place before” towns. I realize travel itself is of course the main allure to travel nursing, but there are a lot of places to explore in this country besides the larger tourist cities. Around 15 percent of Americans live in rural areas—and they need nurses, too.
The struggle for hospitals to recruit nurses to rural areas across the U.S. is outlined in a recent article by Nurse.com. Administrators are experiencing increasing difficulty in filling their full-time positions, and many do turn to travelers. Retirement among nurses in rural communities continues to be a concern along with aging patient populations.
I am not a recruiter and I am not a nurse. But with so many options available to travel nurses, my hope for this year and upcoming years is that as an industry we start to see a change. A change in the locations being requested or at least more of an openness to consider the towns less populated. Can we get to a place where a travel nurse can take just one travel assignment per year out of four assignments in a rural town? What about two, and alternate between the vacation locations and rural locations.
Rural has certain connotations that could also use a change. There are benefits to rural travel nursing:
- Small-town facilities are usually not as fast-paced and stressful as what you’ll find in big cities
- Nurses have the opportunity to gain professional experience by working across various departments, an opportunity you don’t see in larger facilities
- Rural areas have their own kind of beauty. Many are near national parks and forests, have their own unique celebrations or draws, or are so close to an urban area you wouldn’t even feel out of place on the weekends.
- And the patients will truly appreciate what you are bringing to their small community
Eastern Idaho and central Washington (two locations mentioned in that Nurse.com article) don’t sound exciting? Idaho puts you in the best hot springs territory of our country. And just across that eastern border (once you pass through perhaps two national forests on the Idaho side) you’re at Yellowstone National Park or looking at the beauty of the Grand Tetons. Central Washington is the starting point to day trips that take you to Seattle, Mount Rainier National Park, the Cascades, camping trips, ranches and horseback riding.
Like we say here at Cariant, “You can do anything for thirteen weeks.” Why not take the time to serve and learn more about rural America?