First Time Travel Nurse? What You Need to Know
Being a travel nurse can be a very attractive possibility for those holding a CNA, LPN, or RN license. This is evident in the 44% YoY growth of the industry from 2018 to 2019. Travel nursing offers licensed professionals the opportunity to visit gorgeous and exciting locations across the United States. While this can seem like an attractive prospective, it can be hard to know where to start and what you should expect throughout the process. If you are interested in taking your nursing career on the road, it is important to do your homework. We invite you to use our list of handy tips for first time travel nurses as a guide to getting started.
What Does Being a Travel Nurse Mean to You?
The idea of seeing the country while still being able to work and make money is understandably an attractive one. However, it is important to be clear about what the opportunity truly means to you.
- Beyond selecting the city where you want to work, what type of facility would you like to work for?
- Is compensation a priority or is the experience itself more attractive?
- Are benefits a priority?
- Will you be needing housing? While housing may be a priority to some, others may be looking to visit family or friends during their contract.
- Do you want a guaranteed number of shifts or is per diem more your speed?
Understanding your personal priorities and having a defined “wish list” can make all the difference when getting started in the travel nursing industry.
Choosing the Right Staffing Company
After defining your career priorities, the next step in your travel nursing journey would be to select a staffing agency. Your agency will work with you to get started in your ideal position. When selecting a staffing company, there are several factors a candidate should consider:
- What is the company’s overall reputation?
- What is their experience in the travel staffing industry?
- Do they have a Joint Commission certification?
- Do they offer a diverse roster of available assignments (i.e. locations, facility types, specialties)?
Working with Your Recruiter
Once you have evaluated the credentials of the company itself, it is essential to consider your recruiter and the job itself. Does the recruiter care about your career goals? Is your recruiter knowledgeable about the medical field – and more, specifically, the recruitment process? Does your recruiter have an open and active line of communication with you to consistently keep in touch with you?
When talking to your recruiter, do not hesitate to ask questions. This will help determine if your personalities and communication styles are a good fit. After all, this should become a long-term partnership. Selecting a job in a stellar location and with attractive pay is just one piece of the pie. Selecting a recruiter that understands the business, your needs, and who has your back can truly make a difference in your travel nursing journey.
Are You the Dream Candidate for Your Dream Job?
You are a licensed professional in your field. Your priority list is set. You have partnered with a great staffing company. However, is that enough? The reality of the travel nursing industry is that requirements can vary greatly from state to state, city to city, or even facility to facility. Some states may require you to hold their state license, while other states may be open to any valid license (particularly in time of crisis, such as COVID-19). Facilities may have specific requirements when it comes to time in service, particularly in a chosen specialty. Some facilities may require a predetermined number of shifts, while others may be looking to fill shifts as needed.
This is where an experienced recruiter comes into play. Your recruiter can offer guidance and advice as to the best position for you, your credentials, and your experience- while keeping your priority list in mind. With that being said, it is important to remember that your dream job might not be the best fit for you…yet. However, as you gain more experience as a travel nurse, more opportunities can become available to you.
Time to Sign Your Contract
Now that you and your recruiter have settled on the best position, your recruiter has processed your credentials, and you are ready to sign your contract. It is important to review your contract and make sure you understand what you are committing to, and what the agency is committing to you.
- What is your agreed pay rate?
- Are you committing to a 13-week assignment or something shorter?
- Will you have guaranteed hours or working per diem?
- Is the facility providing housing or will you have a housing allowance?
Your travel assignment should be outlined by a contract that details the above, along with any relevant special conditions. Diligently review your contract and be sure to answer any questions you may have prior to signing. It is important to understand that travel contracts may look different than a regular staff member contract. Your recruiter should review everything with you and clarify any issues.
Finally Making the Move
Now that you have secured your assignment, it is time to pack and make the move. If your agreement does not include free housing from the facility, it is time to consider the housing options that are available in the area. Your recruiter and/or your new facility should be able to suggest different possibilities. It is important to remember that your housing options may change based on who you may bring with you -such as your spouse or pets.
Aside from your housing, it is also important to decide on what you want to bring with you when you hit the road. In most cases, less is more. As a starting point, consider the climate of your destination and how it may differ from where you live. If you are a Floridian heading to Colorado in January, layer-able cold weather gear is a must. Similarly, if you are heading south in the summer, consider lightweight, comfortable clothing. Beyond that, your recruiter can provide tips on specific items you may during your assignment.
First Time Travel Nurse…But, Certainly Not the Last
Making the switch to travel nursing can be an intimidating, yet extremely rewarding, change. At Jaykay Medical Staffing, our experienced recruiters pride themselves on helping licensed professionals navigate that change with ease. So, while this may be your first travel nurse experience, we are confident it will not be your last.
We invite you to give us a call at 800-442-5441 or send us a message to get started today!