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Fri Feb 11, 2022, 02:06 PM

For travel nurses, jobs at home can't come close to pay they get on the road

Nursing is a second career and a calling for Sara Dean of Mt. Juliet, Tenn. Dean loved her work at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital. But then the pandemic hit and she saw how much nurses were getting paid to travel as much as $10,000 a week.

"That's a life-changing number. That's a number that helps you pay off debt, move out of your grandma's basement or whatever," Dean, 38, says. "I'm not saying we were struggling. We were a two-income household. But we made ends meet."

So she took a leave from her hospital job and signed her first three-month contract to go to New Mexico. Her immediate family came with her; her boyfriend could work remotely and her daughter was in virtual school. And when not working, they enjoyed exploring the desert on dirt bikes.

Dean eventually quit her job at home as the money got better and better following COVID hotspots from New Mexico to Maryland to rural Alabama. At one point, Dean's overtime rate was more than $200 an hour, and she was working 60 hours a week saving the lives of COVID patients.

When I did travel nursing, the staff RNs at some hospitals used to complain that we made more than they did (not really true). Now travelers really do!

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