It is important to plan. One of the steps is to make sure that you have updated nursing licenses, health information and immunization records. You’ll need a professionally prepared résumé that highlights your nursing skills and includes a list of references and current telephone numbers. Make sure after each assignment you update this information. One of the items that constantly gets asked is who your supervisor was and how many beds was on your unit. If you keep track of this information you won't have to look it up later on.
When you and your recruiter have agreed on an assignment, prepare for a telephone interview with the potential employer, ask questions about nurse–patient ratios, type of care delivery system, scheduling and floating policies, and specify in advance should you need particular days off. Also be sure to have guaranteed hours on your contract. We always make sure our contracts say 36 hours guaranteed.
2. Realize that starting a new job in a new place can be a daunting experience.
While many nurses are anxious to get out and explore different parts of the country, others may be hesitant to take the leap. If you are in the the latter group, there are ways to make the transition easier. Consider a travel assignment in or near your own state, perhaps where your friends and relatives are living. Should you choose an assignment that’s far from home, consider a travel buddy so you’ll have someone to drive with you.
Don't think that because you have kids or a spouse that you can't make this work. We travel together as a family and started out when our son was only 5 months old. He is now 2 and we have grown together as a family. You can homeschool or choose to be in a Virtual School. So many options are now available for those of us that choose to travel. Think of all the experiences your children will have by personally experiencing it vs. just reading about it in a book.
3. Accept nursing assignments with an open mind, and be ready to show your skills.
Travel nurses shouldn't take things personally, even if they are asked to deal with a difficult patient or case. Although permanent staff nurses are usually courteous and professional, some will try to isolate you to test your nursing skills. Seems like when you’re a travel nurse, your co-workers place you on probation until you can show them you have an above-average skill set. Some places you will notice this in more than others. This is why it is so important in my opinion to have a minimum of two years experience in the field you are in before traveling.
4. I'll say it again.....don’t take things personally.
As the new person on the unit, it’s not unusual for a travel nurse to get some assignments that no one else wants, including dealing with patients and families who the staff may see as rude and demanding. People who are difficult to deal with only want to be heard and have their issues addressed. Make it a point to listen to them and promptly respond to their issues. Take each problem as it comes and venture to learn from this experience. It’s important as new travelers to be flexible in your job role. Travel nursing is a business, so don’t take anything personally.
5. Verify pay rates and other details with your recruiter.
It’s okay to ask a lot of questions, in fact, a good recruiter would prefer that you do. Double-check with your recruiter about insurance and other benefits before accepting your first travel assignment. When conversing with your recruiter, ask them to explain what job benefits you’ll have and what your base salary will be. You need to become aware of what to expect in your paycheck during each 13-week assignment. Some companies provide health insurance while you’re on the job, but some companies only pay part of health insurance benefits. This can all be verified with your nursing recruiter. Many recruiters have become very good friends and an important factor in the success of our assignments!!
6. Arrive early for your travel assignment and finish preparations.
Instead of showing up the day before your start date, plan to arrive with enough time to “get the lay of the land,” settle in your housing or for us the RV Park, and figure out your commute and other details before your first shift. You’ll want to know where to get your car rental [if needed], learn about your housing arrangements and what the company provides during your stay, as you may need to purchase some household items. You’ll also need to know where the nearest grocery store, gas station, etc are located.
Save all receipts while traveling for potential reimbursement or tax issues. It’s a good idea to drive to your assigned hospital to experience the travel route you’ll be taking to work. We personally visit and take Tim's picture standing in front of the sign :)
Ask questions pertinent to orientation issues and devise a question list you plan to ask during those sessions. You’ll also need to get the hospital and your direct supervisor’s telephone numbers in case of an emergency, or when you may be late for work. Orientation usually lasts about 3 days and this is the time to ask questions since after those 3 days you will be expected to take off running.
8. Enjoy your time
Travel Nursing is all about experiencing new things. We are in a position that allows us to explore and learn about our environment that we are in. Not many people can say they are able to travel all over the United States and stay in one area for 13 weeks so enjoy it. Take lots of pictures to document your time in the area you are at. One of our favorite things is to make a yearly photo book/calendar of our time for the year.
We love living this life and wouldn't change anything!! Feel free to ask any questions you have we will answer as best we can :)