Locum Tenens for Nurse Practitioners vs. Travel Nursing Jobs

October 11, 2022
5 min read

The medical industry is changing rapidly, and many nurse practitioners are ready to escape the traditional hospital or clinic environment. Two paths offer popular nursing alternatives: locum tenens and travel nursing jobs. So which of these options is right for you? The medical staffing experts at OnCall Solutions are here with insight.

What is Travel Nursing?

Travel nurse practitioners take temporary roles in high-need areas. When a hospital or practice is experiencing a staffing shortage, they will hire travel nurses from across the country to relocate temporarily and provide aid.

Pros of Travel Nursing Jobs

At times, travel nursing opportunities can sound too good to be true. However, these roles offer some real benefits for nurses:

  • Giving Back: These opportunities provide high levels of relief for those who need it most, giving you the satisfaction of giving back to the community.
  • Travel Perks: For those who enjoy travel, these positions help you get paid while experiencing and exploring new areas. Not only will you get paid for your time on the job, but many travel nursing opportunities also pay for your airfare, housing, and sometimes even food.
  • Pay: In many cases, travel nursing roles pay more than their full-time equivalents. However, it is important to note that the pay can vary drastically across opportunities. In many cases, the pay reflects the job’s appeal and demand. For example, high-interest opportunities in Hawaii or Alaska might pay less—though many travel nurses find this a worthy tradeoff.

Cons of Travel Nursing Jobs

While it might sound like the perfect job opportunity on paper, there are some downsides to working as a travel nurse that you might consider before diving in:

  • Potential Stress: The hospital and practices hiring travel nurses are often overwhelmed and understaffed, leading to high-stress jobs with long hours.
  • Insurance: You must ensure you have full coverage of malpractice insurance. Some travel nurse staffing agencies provide coverage, but ensuring that the insurance is comprehensive (including tail coverage) is also important.
  • Travel Hassles: The fun of traveling also comes with the downsides of frequent travels, such as living out of a suitcase, airport hassles, layovers, and the missed comfort of home.
  • Licenses and Certifications: You will often need to ensure that you have a license to practice in the state where you would like to travel. You may also need a certification to accept certain specialty positions—such as emergency room travel nurse or labor/delivery travel nurse opportunities. Your travel nursing agency should be able to provide more information and help you with this process.
  • Home Base: Many travel nurses struggle with their living situations. On the one hand, you do not want to pay for an apartment or home as it sits vacant for several months of the year. On the other hand, you might not want to pack your belongings into storage and go without a home base.

 

Additional Considerations of Travel Nursing Jobs

You might have more flexibility and control over your practice in filling temporary travel positions than in full-time roles. However, depending on their staffing agency and the market demand, travel nurses can also lose some of their control.

While many agencies will let you pick where you go as a travel nurse, your options are often limited to where there is high demand. Simply stated: travel nurses usually have to go where the work is.

Additionally, your agency might require you to meet a minimum shift requirement. In these cases, it can be hard to balance taking the leave you want while meeting the shift minimums.

If you are looking for an alternative to travel nursing, locum tenens nursing opportunities might be right for you.

What is Locum Tenens For Nurse Practitioners?

Locum tenens roles are similar to travel nursing roles only in the fact that they are both temporary positions to fill a staffing gap. However, locum tenens positions do not require travel, as these temporary roles are for hospitals, practices, and clinics in your area.

Locum nurses frequently fill the gap when a full-time nurse practitioner is out on medical or maternity leave. You might also find locum roles filling staffing gaps while a practice works to hire and train new full-time nurses.

Pros of Locum Nursing Jobs

You can access a wide range of benefits unlike those in any other nursing opportunity with locum tenens:

  • Offering Support These opportunities allow you to support a practice or hospital that needs help—often giving another nurse the chance to take necessary leave.
  • Experience and Networking: You can experience the hospitals and practices in your area firsthand, which is helpful for any nurse practitioner considering returning to a full-time role.
  • Flexibility: Locum tenens nurses have full control over their practice. Without minimum shift requirements. You can accept as many or as few locum opportunities as you would like.
  • Malpractice Insurance: Agencies like OnCall include medical liability insurance (with tail coverage) for all locum nurse practitioners.
  • Pay: Locum tenens roles often pay more than their full-time equivalents. You can read our guide to locum tenens and moonlighting salaries here.
  • Local Work: Locum tenens roles support local nurse practitioners—making these flexible roles attainable without all the travel. This position is also compatible with nurses with children and pets.

Cons of Locum Nursing Jobs

Naturally, locum nursing positions also come with a few considerations for nurse practitioners:

  • Taxes: Locum nursing positions fall under the 1099 tax status. 1099 can help you qualify for extra deductions in many cases, but your taxes will not be withheld from your paycheck. Rather, you will need to work with a tax professional to ensure that you make the most of your money and pay all necessary taxes.
  • Travel Perks: Local work comes with plenty of perks, but locum nurses will not get the same travel opportunities as travel nurses—for better or worse.

Travel Nursing Jobs vs. Locum Tenens Nurse Practitioner Jobs: Which is Right For You?

Ultimately, only you can decide which nursing position is right for you. Thankfully, the flexibility of these roles can help you try both to experience these kinds of opportunities firsthand. In some cases, you might even be able to switch back and forth between roles. When you are ready to give locum tenens nursing a try, the experts at OnCall Solutions can help.

Find Locum Tenens Nursing Positions with OnCall Solutions

OnCall Solutions partners nurse practitioners, physicians, and physician assistants with hospitals, practices, and clinics in their areas. We offer comprehensive support for locum tenens and moonlighting roles—helping you get credentialed, covered by insurance, and connected with opportunities in your area. You can contact OnCall to learn more or get started today!

The Nation's Leading Medical Staffing and Recruiting Experts
Even before physician burnout was the number one issue facing organized medicine, we sought to offer a solution. Our comprehensive staffing options give physicians control over their schedule and facilities control over their costs - the best of both worlds for hospitals and medical practitioners alike.
Scott Shapiro MD, FACC
CEO & Founder
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