In this week’s edition of the Traveler’s Guide to Nursing and Allied Health, we look at the pros and cons of a big-city vs. a small-town assignment.
Travel nurses and allied health professionals call the shots. They decide when, where, and whom they work for. And while some choices are obvious, picking between a small-town assignment and one in the big city can be a toss-up.
Whether you want to explore the trails at Saguaro National Park on the weekends or take in Broadway on a Tuesday night is a matter of preference. Maybe you like the idea of floating to other units or only want to stay within your specialty; there is no right or wrong answer. “MedPro Healthcare Staffing has desirable assignments at facilities across the United States,” said Jessica Madgey, Associate Vice President of Nursing at MedPro Healthcare Staffing. “We can provide assignments in high-profile cities such as New York, Los Angeles, or Phoenix, Arizona, or more remote locations such as Anmoore, West Virginia, or Chinle, Arizona.”
Small-town and big-city assignments have definite distinctions. So, before you commit to Houston over Galveston or Solvang over Los Angeles, take time to figure out your priorities to make the best decision for YOU!
This one may seem obvious, but many of us enjoy at least a few of the perks of big-city and small-town living. Are you an outdoor enthusiast? Do you like hiking, camping, and being in nature? Small towns are usually in rural areas providing greater opportunities for outdoor activities. Are you a night owl? Do you enjoy arts, culture, diverse communities, and food choices? Then you would check the box next to a big city.
- Professional Growth
Big cities have larger populations, which translates to more facilities and job opportunities. Big cities also require highly specialized, highly-skilled workers for positions not typically offered in small-town hospitals such as (CVICU, NICU, Neuro ICU, etc.). Small-town hospitals generally have a lower patient volume and can’t support specialized units. But, they often allow travelers to venture outside their expertise and widen their skill set. In a small-town facility, you’ll have more opportunities to float to different units and possibly venture onto a new specialty.
- Healthcare Culture
Big city hospitals come with the latest state-of-the-art technology. On a big-city assignment, you’ll have access to more comprehensive capabilities for diagnostics and patient care to treat a wide spectrum of conditions and concerns. But they also provide a more formal and rigid work culture. There will be more rules and guidelines and less room for individual innovation at a New York or Chicago facility. In contrast, travelers will have an easier time establishing direct access to upper management and obtaining answers or clarification quicker in a small-town hospital. Additionally, a lack of resources can spur innovation. Depending on the facility’s size, travelers may have more opportunities to develop a new program or process that meets the community’s needs.
- Cost of Living
Though inflation rose everywhere after the COVID-19 pandemic, the cost of living is almost always more expensive in a big city. You’ll pay more for housing, food, transportation, and child care working in Miami or Seattle than you will in Lakeland or Spokane. Of course, the pay is higher in big cities to compensate for those expenses. There are a few exceptions, such as assignments at locations during foul weather seasons or some remote or “less desirable” locations.
Regardless of which way you’re leaning, do your research. What is the facility’s patient-to-caregiver ratio? What is the available technology? What is the facility’s reputation?
Small towns and big cities both have their benefits and drawbacks. Choosing one boils down to individual preferences and professional and personal goals. If possible, talk to another travel nurse or allied health professional and get their take on your area or city of interest. And whether you end up in a small town or a big city, most are just a short drive from each other, providing the best of both worlds. Happy traveling.