We recently asked our Recruitment Managers, “what are a couple of things you wish you could share with any nurse who may want to travel?”. The list that we gathered is a good foundation of information for anyone who may be looking to take the first step into travel nursing and it is a great reminder for a lot of experienced travel nurses out there too.
1. Be Flexible on Location.
Come up with a list of 2-3 location options. Being flexible will give you the highest chance of finding the best opportunity.
2. Interview Your Recruiter.
Make a list of questions that you ask every recruiter. Talk to at least 3 agencies to see who you click with. Your relationship with your recruiter is EVERYTHING. Make sure you find a recruiter you can trust.
3. Do Not Get Consumed With Comparing Pay Packages on Social Media.
Pay packages are based on location and hospital. You can literally get dizzy chasing dollars and questioning “is this a good pay package?”. Read #2 – a good recruiter will not only share his/her best pay package, but can give you what the “market is paying” for the city/area that you are interested.
4. Be Organized.
Update your resume with proper start dates/end dates, have your medical record information (immunization) at hand and make sure you have all your certification cards (BLS, ACLS) active and in one place. As a Travel Nurse, these 3 things will always be required to start working, plus 2 references in a supervisory role.
5. Research the City/Location & Know the Housing Options.
This goes hand-in hand with being flexible on where you accept a travel assignment and what type of pay you can expect. For example, $3,000 per week may sound great, but if you want to work in San Francisco, it will also mean higher cost of housing. Consider your situation – are you traveling in an RV? Are you planning on taking your pet(s)?
6. Consider Traveling Closer to Home.
Especially for first time travelers. A travel contract can be as close as 50 miles away from your current address. Being closer to home means, you are still familiar with the area and can alleviate the stress of being a “traveler” in a distant city and you can focus on the experience of working as the new “travel nurse” just at a different hospital.
7. Share When Is The Best Time To Reach You & How.
Schedule a 2-3 hour window that you are able/willing to be contacted and stick by this. Do you prefer a phone call or text? For example, if you currently work 7P-7A, when are you able to talk before you go to sleep? Or would you rather talk in the afternoon? In sharing this information, you can avoid being disturbed when you are getting some rest during the day. Stick to this schedule. A thoughtful recruiter would appreciate and respect these boundaries.
8. Be Upfront With Any Time Off Requests.
Travel contracts are usually 8 to 13 weeks (3 months) duration. A rule of thumb: do not plan any time off the first 2-3 weeks of starting a travel assignment. Any time off request should be information shared as part of your initial submission.
9. Read Your Travel Assignment Contract Carefully.
Go over the contract with your Recruiter before signing. Make sure to ask questions and you feel comfortable as you are signing a legally binding contract.
10. Bring Your Own Sheets & Pillow.
It helps make anywhere feel more like home.
11. The First 2 Weeks of Your Contract Will Test You.
Experience has taught us that the hardest parts of an assignment is acclimating to a new system, a new staff, a new city – all these things happen the first 2 weeks of your contract. You may even doubt your decision to travel, but we can assure you – stick with it. It does get better. When? Give it another 2 weeks.
12. Take Time To Explore Your New City.
Try new things, do new things. You get to explore the country almost like a paid vacation!
13. Do Not Burn Bridges.
One of the best parts about travel nursing is that it is a temporary assignment. It is 3 months. If you must end an assignment, honor the cancellation notice requirement stated on your travel contract – the standard is a 2-week notice.
14. Remember Why You Are A Nurse.
There will be hard times. As exciting as travel nursing can be, the reality is also that there is a unit at a hospital in an unfamiliar city that is experiencing staffing shortage. And they need you.
15. Carry A Positive Attitude.
Carrying a positive attitude on your travel assignment will help you succeed. Being positive, kind, and friendly will make your experience on any assignment fun and enjoyable.
What other tips or advice would you add to this list?