Travel Nursing 101: First Things First

Okay, so you’ve decided to become a travel nurse, or at least you’re expressing interest. That’s great! It is a wonderful, rewarding opportunity.  I’m currently into my 3rd travel nurse assignment (like the shot of the bridge?) and I often get asked many questions on what travel nursing is like. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet  and befriend fellow travelers along the way. Through our conversations and my own experiences, I’ve learned quite a bit of helpful information.  So, I’m taking the next few blog posts to give some tips on how to make the most of  a travel nursing career.! Here it goes……

Travel Nursing 101: First things first.

The first thing I will tell anyone considering an assignment as a travel nurse is this: have a clear purpose for starting a career as a travel nurse.  Are you most interested in earning extra money? Are you traveling for the experience alone? Are you willing to work various shifts/units? Holidays?   Trust me, having the answer to these questions in the back of your mind will help you determine which assignments are best for you. Some assignments have great pay rates, benefits, etc, but aren’t necessarily in the most fun places and vice versa. Some assignments may require you to float to various units, work holidays and rotate between day/night shifts. Before you choose an assignment, decide which details you are willing to negotiate on.

Now that you’ve decided to travel, you need to choose an agency to travel with. Choose the right travel company. I repeat, choose the right company!! As travel nursing has expanded, agencies are expanding and becoming more competitive.  Truthfully, in terms of communication, contracts, housing, benefits, customer service, etc., some agencies are better than others. Pay close attention to an agency’s reviews before signing on with them!  There are several websites that can give you agency rankings. I like both www.highwayhypodermics.com and www.travelnursingcentral.com.

Use all the tools you can to get reviews. Do your homework! If you know a traveler, talk with him/her about their experiences. Do they like their company? What companies would they stay away from and why? Do they have a good relationship with their recruiter? Having a good recruiter can make all the difference in your travel experience. There are a lot of varied opinions about different agencies. You may have a great experience with a company while another traveler didn’t. Sometimes, experience is the best teacher. As a rule of thumb, though, if you notice several negative comments about an agency via word of mouth or web, pay attention.

Coming up in my next blog post,  I’ll tell you specifics about contracts. What needs to be detailed in your contract? What questions do you need to ask your recruiter? What questions do you need to ask when you interview for the assignment?  A good rule to remember: If it is not in your contract, it does not exist!

Stay tuned and all questions are welcomed:)