burnout in healthcare

How to Avoid Burnout Among Travel Nurses

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the rise of travel nurse jobs. Travel nursing is an exciting and rewarding profession. This job allows nurses to explore new locations, experience diverse medical settings, and meet new people. 

However, the unique demands of working as a travel nurse can also contribute to high-stress levels and burnout. This post will discuss the primary causes of burnout among travel nurses and offer practical coping strategies.

Defining Burnout

Burnout is a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion. It often accompanies feelings of cynicism, detachment, and a decreased sense of personal accomplishment. It is a serious and pervasive issue that affects individuals across various professions, including healthcare workers such as travel nurses.

What Causes Burnout Among Travel Nurses?

Travel nurses are particularly susceptible to burnout due to the unique demands of their profession.

Among traveling nurses, common causes that lead to burnout include:

Long hours of work

Travel nurses often work long hours. Often, they may be required to cover multiple shifts to accommodate staffing shortages. These extended working hours can increase stress, fatigue, and burnout.

Heavy workloads and high-stress work environments

They frequently work in high-stress environments, such as emergency rooms and intensive care units. The high workloads and pressure to perform in these settings can lead to emotional exhaustion and burnout.

Limited support and resources in unfamiliar settings

Travel nurses often work in unfamiliar environments with limited resources and support. When traveling nurses don’t have a consistent support network and constantly adapt to new settings, they are more prone to burnout.

Emotional Exhaustion

Moreover, they are exposed to a wide range of emotionally challenging situations. It can include caring for critically ill patients and dealing with a patient’s loss. These nursing experiences can take a significant toll on the emotional well-being of nurses and contribute to burnout. Other causes include:

  • Frequent travel and adjusting to new environments
  • Struggling to maintain work-life balance
  • Feeling isolated and disconnected from friends and family

Travel Nurse Burnout Signs and Symptoms

Burnout is a growing concern in the travel nursing profession. One survey indicated that up to 40% of travel nurses reported to have experienced symptoms of burnout. Here are the signs and symptoms:

  • Physical Signs: chronic fatigue, headaches, insomnia, and stomach issues
  • Emotional Symptoms: detachment, cynicism, irritability, and a decreased sense of personal accomplishment
  • Behavioral Signs: this may manifest as a decline in job performance, increased absences from work, and withdrawal from social activities.

Strategies to Avoid Travel Nursing Burnout

Stress and burnout not only affect the individual nurse’s well-being but also significantly impact patient care and overall job satisfaction. Addressing burnout is essential for traveling nurses to achieve long-term career success and personal well-being.

To build resilience, it’s essential to recognize these stressors and take proactive measures to manage them effectively.

1. Set Realistic Expectations

Travel nursing often involves working long hours and managing high levels of responsibility. Be realistic about your workload and set boundaries when necessary. Communicate with your agency and colleagues to ensure you have adequate support and resources to handle your responsibilities.

2. Prioritize Self-Care

Make self-care a priority by ensuring you have time for activities that promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Engage in regular exercise, maintain a healthy diet, and prioritize sleep. Try relaxing activities like yoga, meditation, or being outside. 

3. Create a Support System

Building connections with fellow travel nurses, and healthcare professionals can provide you with valuable support during your assignments. Reach out to colleagues and seek out local professional organizations, networking events, and social gatherings. Utilize social media and online forums to connect with other travel nurses who can offer advice, encouragement, and camaraderie.

4. Stay Connected with Friends and Family

Connecting with friends and family can help alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness that often comes with travel nursing. Schedule regular phone calls, video chats, or visits with loved ones. Share your experiences, challenges, and accomplishments, and try to stay involved in their lives.

5. Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms

When stress becomes overwhelming, it’s crucial to have effective coping mechanisms in place. Avoid relying on unhealthy habits like excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, or overeating. Instead, try deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness techniques to manage stress.

6. Seek Professional Help When Needed

If you’re experiencing symptoms of burnout or struggling with stress, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Talk to a mental health professional or counselor who can provide guidance and support. Your travel nursing agency may also offer resources for stress management and burnout prevention.


Addressing burnout is essential for travel nurses’ long-term career success and personal well-being. By acknowledging and addressing the signs and symptoms of burnout, travel nurses can maintain a healthy work-life balance. Plus, they can continue to provide high-quality patient care.

In addition, healthcare organizations and nursing leaders are responsible for supporting travel nurses. They can provide resources, foster a supportive work environment, and advocate for policies that promote safety, work-life balance, and mental health.