Job Hopping as a Travel Nurse


Throughout my 30+ year career, I changed jobs several times.  Many of the nurses I worked with also moved from job to job every few years.  As a travel nurse job hopping is part of the draw.  What is the longest you stayed in any position?   What is the longest you have worked with an agency?  Do any of these numbers matter when looking for a job today?

Are you a job hopper, a term used to describe nurses who change jobs more often than other nurses?  As a travel nurse job-hopper goes with the job description.  Would it make a difference if you decided to settle down into a more permanent position? Do employers look at the number of jobs you put on your résumé?

These are all very good questions.  Let’s see if we can find the answer.

The times are changing.

Those of us Baby Boomers are close to retirement leaving room for Generation Xers and Generation Y.   With new generations following in our footsteps they are making their own rules.  It does seem that the idea of job hopping is still a grey area for employers.

I guess I would say that it depends.  But on what does it depend?

Questions to ask.

If reviewing a résumé with several job changes you might want to know:

  • How long have you been a nurse? During the first five years of a nurses career, it takes time to find your niche.  A new nurse always has work relationship challenges in the beginning.
  • What are your career goals for the future? Are your job changes to seek career advancement, more experience or education for advancement?
  • How often do you change jobs? If a nurse is changing jobs every 6 months or less it is much different than a change every few years.
  • Are changing position or new employers?  It is not unusual to expand your experience.  Frequent changes due to unhappiness with an employer should be questioned.

The bottom line question should be asked in person:

  • Why did you have frequent job changes? The answer to this question will probably guide the entire thought process on how to view the job-hopping.
    • You left for personal or professional reasons.
    • Was trying to find a positive solution before deciding to leave an option?
    • Do you think there might have been a resolution?
    • Was there someone to help with resolving the issue?
    • Did your previous employer or employers know about your needs as a professional?
    • Did you understand your job expectations as a new employee?

Time and money

It takes time and money to hire and train a new employee.  A new employer has to weigh the odds of investing in your employment. If you have a job-hopping history they may not feel it is worth the effort to train, educate and orient you to their workplace.  You need to have a track record that emphasizes some element of dependability or reliability.

Honesty about the whys and why not’s of your job experience will go a long way in the hiring process.  Employers are not attacking you personally in the review and interview.  Present yourself in a professional manner and be objective about your goals.

During the first 10years of my career, the only time I changed jobs was for advancement.  I was either climbing up the ladder or moving to a higher paying position.   Job-hopping is not necessarily a bad thing.  As long as you are advancing professionally with a positive goal in mind. Travel nurse job hopping is not a worry as long as you are traveling.


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Cheryl Roby, RN

Cheryl J. Roby is a Registered Nurse and retired US Army Reserve Nurse Major. She has more than 30 years of nursing experience and 26 years of military experience in the Army Nurse Corp. During her nursing career, she has traveled as part of her military experience visiting many of the 50 states and to South Korea. She was trained as an Army Medic during the Vietnam era and later as an OR tec. She went on to become a Licensed Practical Nurse and then completed her nursing training as a Registered Nurse. She was then commissioned as an officer in the Army Reserves. She appreciated the challenge of working in various specialties and expanding her clinical and professional skill sets. Her time in the Army Reserves and California National Guard gave her the opportunity to travel to most of the 50 states and work in other medical facilities. During her career, she had the opportunity to work in several specialties to include, OR, Occupational Health, Hospice, Sexual Assault Team, Forensic/ Correctional Nurse, Nurse Case Manager for developmental disabilities, Parish Nursing as well as a Nurse Entrepreneur.

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