Leaving KP? 10 Reasons to Consider Becoming a Traveling Nurse

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Kaiser Permanente employees have a unique opportunity in the next couple years which could help set them up financially for the rest of their lives.

For those Kaiser nurses who have put in at least 10 years of service and are age 50 (service pension eligible) and who want a change, transitioning to a traveling nurse may be a consideration. If you are over 50 and have 10 years of service but short of age 65, your pension is discounted at 5% a year. For example a 60 year old nurse with 10 years of service leaving KP would have a 25% age penalty if collecting the pension at age 60. Luckily there is another solution at KP, if you retire at 60. You could leave KP and work as a traveling nurse and “defer” collecting your pension for five(5) years and make up or gain that 25% by not collecting and waiting to age 65 to collect your pension. By deferring you get a guaranteed 5% return per year for every year you wait to collect your pension. Another solution is stay at KP and work the minimum 1800 hours per year and if approved , work as a travel nurse part time.

One other downside is that if you leave Kaiser before age 65 you cannot receive healthcare until age 65. A solution could be using your traveling nurse company benefits plan to fill in the healthcare gap until age 65.

Travel nursing offers an extremely competitive salary and is a growing profession with many available employment opportunities. The travel nursing profession is expected to grow by 12% in 2028, which is a much faster growth rate than the average healthcare occupation. With jobs available and the opportunity to increase your income travel nursing may be right for you. Here are the 10 main reasons to consider becoming a traveling nurse:

1. The Money

Nurses work very hard so their compensation is well deserved. As a travel nurse, you’d have the opportunity to make significantly more money than your stationary counterparts.

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It is common for travel nurses to earn $3,000 per week. Travel nurses can bring in over $50 per hour, and on top of that they are often provided with company-paid housing accommodations. Under these circumstances travel nurses can bring in well over $100K per year.

If you’re looking for a job right now, with the current pandemic, certain high risk areas are offering nurses major incentives to come help. There have been pay packages of over $10,000 per week or $100,000 for a 13-week assignment. Obviously there is a much greater risk for nurses entering these areas. 

2. A Flexible Schedule 

Travel nursing positions vary in location, length of time and position. Travelling from one new place to another is exciting, but it can take a toll on you after awhile. Having the ability to take a break between contracts can help you relax and you can even arrange to be near your family for important events. Oftentimes, you have the option to arrange your weekly schedule for longer weekends and shorter work weeks.

3. Visiting New Places and Having New Experiences

Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest perks of being a traveling nurse is the traveling. If you’ve spent most of your life working in the same location at Kaiser Permanente, it could be a refreshing change of pace to see certain parts of the country you haven’t visited before. Not to mention many companies offer travel reimbursements, so you can visit new and exciting places on the company’s dime.

If you really enjoy the area in which you’re working, you can extend your contract to stay in a location longer if you wish. This allows you to see how nursing varies across different parts of the United States. And it provides a new way for family and friends to visit and explore.

4. Free Private Housing

As I mentioned in “The Money” section, many companies will pay for the nurses housing bills. Higher-end companies even offer accommodations with access to swimming pools, hot tubs and fitness centers. This is a great way to live in style and save a much larger percentage of your earnings. 

5. Perks and Incentives

Worried about the trouble of continuously searching for new contract positions? You don’t have to go it alone—travel nursing agencies will find assignments for you. Additionally, many agencies will cover the costs of travel and find or provide free or reduced-price housing. Some will even cover utilities. These perks are above and beyond the standard benefits you’ll receive, such as health and dental coverage.

6. Sharpen Additional Life Skills

You’ll encounter a wide array of different people and situations, which will force you to be adaptable, think critically and learn to communicate effectively. There’s also something to be said for developing the life skills needed to pick up and move to new locations, find your way around and get acquainted with your surroundings.

7. 401(k) Retirement Plan

Several companies offer a 401(k) Retirement plan with company match contributions. You can enroll in these plans the first day of your employment. These contributions of often tax-free, so make sure you take advantage of the company match and save as much as you can before retirement.

8. Meeting New People

As you travel from location to location, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with people from all different walks of life. This will broaden your perspective and allow you to see people in a whole new light. You’ll also be able to build your network while working alongside a variety of healthcare professionals. You may even build some lifelong friendships.

9. Less Stress on Workplace Politics

Office politics are prevalent in any workplace, and nursing is no exception. Hospitals can create high stress environments, causing tensions between coworkers to run even more rampant. However, when you’re only in an area for three to six months, it’s easier to avoid the drama. If you find yourself in a facility with unfavorable office politics, don’t worry. Traveling RN’s get to enjoy a variety of workplaces, and you’ll be back on the road in no time.

10. Stipend for Meals and Incidentals

Certain company’s may provide a stipend for certain expenses. Tax laws allow eligible full-time travel nurses and healthcare professionals to receive a non-taxable stipend for meals and incidentals. This tax-free money keeps more money in your paycheck and increases your take-home pay.

As you can see travel nursing offers a wide range of benefits. It is an excellent way to save money before retirement and have some new enjoyable experiences. If you’re a Kaiser Permanente employee you’d be wise to consider this opportunity.