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There’s no question that nursing is one of the most fulfilling, rewarding, and toughest career choices. It’s also one of the most demanding, physically and mentally. So, no matter how much you’ve loved your career as a nurse, everyone retires at some point and takes advantage of the relaxation and reduced stress that comes with it.

However, retirement isn’t always what people expect it to be. Some people experience loneliness and isolation. Others feel they’ve lost a sense of purpose, leading to anxiety and depression. One study even found that people in the first year of retirement are 40% more likely  to experience a heart attack or stroke than those working.

Thankfully, as a retired nurse, there are things you can do to find personal growth — including travel nursing.

Self-Discovery After Retirement

Nursing can become an important part of your identity, so you may feel lost when you leave it. Remember that your career isn’t who you are but what you do. However, many nurses have an innate desire to help others. That doesn’t go away just because you’re not working every day.

You can use retirement to discover who you are and why you have that desire. Self-discovery and personal growth are essential after retirement so you understand that you still have a purpose even if you’re not heading to a hospital every day.

Traveling is one of the best ways to “find yourself.” While that might sound silly at first, it often takes stepping out of your comfort zone and seeing the world from a different perspective to dig deeper into your true identity. The benefits of traveling when it comes to personal growth include:

  • Finding and maintaining a sense of purpose
  • Introducing you to new cultures
  • Offering a sense of adventure
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Some of the best places to travel for personal growth include Italy, Greece, South Africa, Alaska, Hawaii, and Spain. Explore rich architecture. Take in historical art. Walk along the sugar sand beaches of an island and breathe in the salty air. If you’ve given much of your life to nursing in one area, changing scenery and perspective can help you discover who you are outside of your career. It can inspire you to use your skills and expertise to make a difference. 

Should You Become a Travel Nurse? 

Traveling and retirement go hand-in-hand. It’s estimated that 25% of people aged 65 and older leave the country at least once a year. But choosing to be a travel nurse goes a step beyond that. While you can (and will) certainly enjoy the sights, sounds, and cultures of the countries you visit, you can also renew your sense of purpose by helping those in need in a completely different setting and environment.

Of course, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of travel nursing before deciding whether it’s the right path.

First, understand that travel nurse positions are often short-term. You might only be somewhere for a few weeks or a few months. That’s often an ideal situation for a retiree who wants to explore the world and help others while enjoying a less stressful retirement. There are plenty of contracts you’ll have to go through if you work with an agency, but the benefit of doing so is that they’ll take care of almost everything for you to ensure your travel assignment goes as smoothly as possible.

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Nurses Making a Difference, Touching Lives, and Changing the World 

When it comes to personal growth, you can have a voice in where you want to travel. You’ll meet new people in various cultures, as well as new colleagues, and you can explore new healthcare systems that might offer insights and ideas you’ve never considered before. There’s greater flexibility, excitement, and freedom you don’t find working every day in a hospital in the U.S.

Plus, it doesn’t hurt that travel nurses earn a median salary of $84,000 annually. While that might not impact your growth, it can help you live a more comfortable life as you age and take on more opportunities to travel for fun.

Preparing for Personal Growth as a Travel Nurse

If you’re ready to leap into nursing, you must be prepared physically, mentally, and emotionally. That starts by planning as much as possible, including:

  • Researching agencies
  • Exploring the pros and cons
  • Networking with other travel nurses
  • Gaining specialty experience
  • Keeping certifications up to date

From a practical standpoint, you’ll also want to ensure your medical records are current and up-to-date with all vaccinations.

You also have to consider your finances. While travel nursing can end up being a lucrative career, especially if you had previously budgeted for retirement, there are expenses to think about that you’ll have to deal with upfront. Have money set aside for a hotel room if your accommodations aren’t ready. Ask the agency you work for about utility bills and whether you’ll be responsible. Consider using a credit card instead of cash to earn points on your destination expenses and easily keep track of your spending online. Budgeting as a travel nurse is as important as managing your finances at home.

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The State of Nursing in the U.S.

Finally, prepare yourself and your family. They might have expected you to retire and spend more time at home. If you’re older, they might be concerned about you traveling the world to help those in need. Make sure you explain your desire to grow and find out who you are by experiencing new adventures and perspectives.

The world is in constant need of qualified travel nurses if you’re already retired or planning to soon, consider travel nursing as an option to help you find personal growth and get to know yourself.

Amanda Winstead
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