Be prepared to be flexible, especially on your first travel nursing assignment. Hospitals often require nurses to float or pick up shifts when necessary, especially if the facility is short-staffed.
It’s essential to arrive at your new assignment a day or two early and find out how to get around. It will make avoiding being late for work on your first day more manageable.
Know Your Contract
Travel nurses are contracted by recruitment agencies that place them in healthcare facilities nationwide. Generally, these contracts last 13-14 weeks.
Healthcare facilities typically need extra nurses to help staff up for EMR conversion and seasonal influxes. But sometimes, unforeseen circumstances arise, and hospitals cancel the contract, leaving travel nurses with unexpected housing expenses.
In this case, finding a recruiter you trust and building a relationship with is essential. They’ve likely experienced this scenario themselves and can provide you with knowledge and guidance. They can be a calming influence and guide you through finding another assignment.
Know Your Responsibilities
Travel nurses are in new hospitals and clinics all the time, so they must be flexible and able to adapt quickly. A love of traveling and being open to different experiences is also essential.
Many travel nurse staffing agencies provide housing or a housing stipend to help cover living costs during an assignment. RNs can live with a roommate, find pet-friendly housing, or rent a more prominent space independently.
They can also request to work at a specific location or hospital or ask for time off between assignments. This flexibility allows them to explore and add a variety of experience and skills to their resume.
Know Where You’re Going
Depending on hospital demand and other factors, a travel nurse can go anywhere in the country. For example, a nurse who prefers a more scenic location may find it easier to hire at that destination than in a larger city. The cost of living in each area also affects a nurse’s pay rates and housing stipends.
Being comfortable with new environments is a must. Travel nurses often work in a different hospital system each time they take an assignment, and the learning curve can be steep. Developing coping mechanisms and a support network can help. Average travel nursing jobs in Michigan last thirteen weeks, so creating a healthy life balance is critical.
Know What to Expect
Many hospitals hire travel nurses due to staff shortages. Individuals must also deal with the stress of relocating to new locations every 8-52 weeks. They must be comfortable working in new environments and adapting to understaffed and underserved facilities.
Travel nurses can select assignments in locations across the country and sometimes beyond. Their hours and shifts vary depending on the hospital they work in. They may have to work extra hours if they’re in high demand.
Travel nurses receive an hourly base pay and a non-taxable housing stipend. Generally, they choose a tax home (full-time residence) to save on housing costs and reduce their overall taxes.
Know the Hospital’s Policies
Travel nurses are hired to fill staffing gaps in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. They often have to learn new policies and procedures quickly, especially in facilities with different standards of care or technologies.
Travel nursing is only for some and requires frequent moves to new locations. Building relationships can be difficult due to the temporary nature of the assignments. Many travel nurses opt to stay in hotels or temporary housing to save money, making it challenging for those striving to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Travel nurses must have all their documents in order before accepting an assignment. It includes a valid form of photo identification, state or compact nursing license, proof of immunizations, and BLS certification.
Know Your Recruiter
Your recruiter can assist you with various queries like contract-related concerns, benefits-related inquiries, and timesheet-related issues. For any matters, they should be the first person you contact. They should always be available to promptly answer your calls, texts, and emails.
When discussing potential travel nursing assignments with your recruiter, you must be open and upfront about your expectations. It includes sharing your salary requirements and the states you are willing to relocate to. By doing so, your recruiter can better match you with assignments that meet your needs and preferences.
Remember that traveling nurses can be very isolated from family and friends. If you need to be close to home, consider taking contracts closer to your home or traveling to destinations where you already have a support network.
Know Your Contract’s End Date
Travel nurses often work short-term contracts and should ensure they know when their assignment ends. It’s also essential for them to know their rights in the event of an unforeseen circumstance, like a low census or a hospital closure.
Another tip for first-time travel nurses is to get to know their coworkers. It helps transition to a new city and can lead to future opportunities.
Know Your Rights
Travel nursing allows nurses to gain experience in various settings and cities nationwide. It also offers a flexible lifestyle and can help you meet people from different cultures while traveling.
Many agencies will provide housing or pay you a non-taxable housing stipend for your contract. If the cost of housing is higher than the stipend, it’s your responsibility to cover the difference.
Travel nursing is only for some, and it can be challenging to maintain relationships or family life between assignments. However, the flexibility and freedom it provides can be worth the sacrifices. Ensure you understand your rights and work with a reputable agency or recruiter.