Travel Nursing - Karen's Story

Ever thought about becoming a travel nurse? The timing has never been better; the demand for travel nurses has surged in recent years as the staffing shortage continues across the country, and – anecdotally – there has never been more opportunities for travel nurses to choose how and when they want to work. Travel nursing is an exciting prospect for anyone interested in seeing our beautiful country whilst earning money, and gaining important clinical experience across a variety of facilities. 

But what is travel nursing actually like? To find out, we spoke to two travel nurses who generously offered their time to sit down with us and discuss their first-hand experience.  


This month we spoke to Karen, who, like Jane (check out her story from last month here!), did a short-term travel nursing job a few years ago, and hadn’t really considered it since. However, because of the rising demand they both decided - based on their prior experience - to give it another go. 

“I first did it a couple of years ago, but there hasn’t been a huge demand for it until now, since Covid. When I see all the jobs over the last week I think, “Oh, yeah, I wouldn’t mind going to Blenheim!” You’re well looked after as well; even being so far from home I haven’t had anything negative, they just treat you like they’ve known you for 10 years.” 

The length of assignments can vary a lot, from a few weeks to a several months. While away, travel nurses are generally put up in motels. However, both Karen and Jane agreed that they didn’t find the adjustment difficult. Despite having family back at home, Karen said she found it easy to maintain her familial connections digitally, over video calls. 

“I do feel like I adapted to living in motels well. Everything’s there. I video call my grandkids while I’m away, and I’ll say to them, “How do you get on with me talking over the internet?” They say, “It’s just like you’re sitting here.” And when I go into a new motel they’ll say, “Go on, show us all your surroundings, what the room’s like!”

"I tell them, “I’m very well looked after, in the motel and at the facility. I haven’t had any problems, I’m quite safe and I’m happy!” 

Karen’s outlook is that if you’ve done agency work, the transition into travel nursing isn’t a shock, it’s just the same work in a different location. 

“Because I’ve been an agency nurse for Medcall locally, I’m used to just walking in. I do my meds, I do my dressings, answer the phones, deal with doctors, and go home again! It’s just a different town. I think working away from home is what you make of it. You can either make it a negative experience or you can make it a happy, memorable one.” 

“Don’t overthink it, because if you overthink it your shift’s just going to turn pear-shaped. And don’t panic. People will say to me, “How come you look so calm?” And I say, “If I panic, the whole shift is gone. So just take a breather and reassess it.” And they’ll say, “I can’t get over how you’ve adapted to it,” and I say, “Well, I’ve been doing agency for so long that I know what to expect. It’s nothing different.” 

She says her favourite part of travel nursing, compared to regular agency work, is the variety of experiences to be had. 

“You travel to different places, and when I’m up there I meet different residents and their families… just meeting people! Getting to know their way of life… I’ve spoken to other agency nurses, RNs, and they say, “oh, I couldn’t go away and work like you do,” and I say, “It’s just what you make it.” 

Are you interested in becoming a travel nurse? Do you have more questions or are you ready to dip your toes in? Get in contact with us! We'd love to hear from you.