Question: I decided to switch to be a travel nurse instead of permanent placement how do I decide where to go?
Congratulations! You have made the first step toward an exciting career of travel nursing. Choosing where you want to go will be one of the questions the travel nursing staffing agency will ask you. Since each travel nurse assignment is approximately 13 weeks long, you do not need to worry about planning where you want to go months in advance. However, there are several factors in deciding your first assignment as a travel nurse.
o Suppose you have a family member whom you haven’t seen in awhile, you could select a location near them so you can have time to visit and form a relationship. Additionally, you may know of a sick relative who needs assistance, so you can choose a destination from your nursing staffing agency nearby.
o Dreamed of visiting the Grand Canyon or the Rio Grande? Would you like to vacation in Hawaii or near Wine Country? Ask your travel nursing staffing agency about jobs near these destinations.
o Do you want to escape the summer heat? Ask about a travel nursing job in Minnesota or Oregon where the summers are beautiful and full of outdoor summer activities.
o Ask your travel nursing staffing agency recruiter about top destinations or ask other travel nurses where they like to travel and work.
Question: What kind of uniform will I need?
Uniforms are often provided to you. You will likely receive them upon your arrival. Each facility requires something different as far as work clothes or uniforms most of the time. It is, however, best to bring a couple pairs of comfortable shoes and an extra set of scrubs, in case your uniform is not ready the first day of your assignment or in rare occasions not provided to you. Also, keep receipts of all nurse uniforms as well as laundering expenses for tax purposes.
Question: What do I need to do before leaving on a travel nurse assignment?
If you know the exact date you will be leaving for your first travel nurse assignment, then it is a good idea to have your mail forwarded to your new housing address. You can give the post office start and stop dates for mail forwarding. It may take up to a week to get your mail at your new location, so make arrangements with any monthly bills you have to pay beforehand.
Inform your nursing staffing agency of your travel dates, so they can inform the employer when to expect you as well as how to reach you during transit. Also, tell your family and friends of your new assignment address, phone number, travel route and where to reach you in case of an emergency as well as the number of your nursing staffing agency. Carry a cell phone and car charger with you at all times; you may need to call someone during transit if you have an emergency.
Carry a folder to hold all your travel expenses, receipts, professional licenses, CEUs, uniform cost and cleaning, fuel for your car, airfare and lodging. Having an organized folder for keeping all these items will save you at tax time.
Finally, it is best to have enough money for meals, fuel, and incidentals for at least two weeks. If you have not set up a bank account at your new location or if you do not have direct deposit, your paychecks may be delayed and you’ll be without accessible funds.
Question: How do I find personal and repair services while working as a travel nurse?
Starting in a new location whether as a job transfer or a travel nurse can be daunting; however, knowing that you will be working with other professionals who are available to refer you to credible and affordable services.
Since travel nurses often have the option of staying in medical staffing housing, you won’t need to worry about home maintenance repairs. While you may need to find a beauty salon or barber, auto repair shop and affordable grocery stores, the same people you work with will be your greatest resource.
Other places to find information about local businesses can be found on Angie’s List and Yelp, which provide reviews and ratings by consumers. Almost every town also has a travel bureau or a chamber of commerce, which have plentiful of resources and recommendations for retail stores and services.
Question: As a travel nurse, do I have to accept an assignment right away after one ends?
No, you do not have to take another assignment right away. As a travel nurse you can take a break between assignments whether it is for one week, two weeks or more, and then choose your next assignment. Travel nursing is not only a great opportunity to explore new places and work assignments, but you also are able to plan your vacation between assignments.
A great recruiter will however follow up with you and talk about your plans before your assignment ends so there is a smooth transition if you want to take advantage of another assignment right away and the many bonuses and rewards that are often times offered for taking another assignment right away. The option is yours!
Question: This is my first travel nurse assignment, what if I have problems adjusting to work schedule or personnel? Whom do I contact?
Medical staffing agencies will be able to work with your needs and special requests regarding work assignments, travel costs and housing before your first assignment; this will help alleviate your first travel nurse assignment problems.
However, if you feel like the travel nurse assignment is not what you expected, you should talk to your head nurse or physician to solve any miscommunication or task responsibilities. Notify your staffing recruiter as well to make sure they know and help resolve issues so that others are in the know as well. You may also know of another nurse whom you can confide in about any concerns you have. It is best to talk to someone before issues interfere with your travel nurse assignment.
If you think of other questions before you leave for your first travel nurse assignment, call your nursing staffing agency because they will have an answer for you when you need it. Rely on their experience to guide you and keep your confidence levels high before during and after travel.
Lauri Petrolia is a Senior Travel Specialist at Advantage Medical Staffing, Inc. specializing in helping a travel nurse