Whether or not you are currently traveling or are thinking about it, we all have that dream travel assignment in mind. Some of us are looking to spend a few months hanging at the beach in Hawaii or rouging it in Alaska.
Finding the perfect destination is key to having an enjoyable travel experience. Landing that dream travel assignment is not easy; it will take a persistence, patience, sacrifice and preparation.
Travel assignment availability is based solely on need. If you have a destination in mind, it might be wise to research when their busy time of the year is. If you are looking to travel to Florida or Arizona, keep in mind that snowbirds flock to those destinations in the winter so there is a need to increase staff based on increased population.
Because winter is a busy time of year for most hospitals, it is most likely that you will land that dream job during that season. California is the only place I know that always has plenty of jobs available year round.
If you are looking to travel to Hawaii or Alaska, make sure you have your nursing license ready. The jobs here come and go so you need to be prepared at any moment.
You should also have a list of destinations in mind and make sure your recruiter is well aware of your travel goals. They will try to give you other assignments because they get paid more, so stay firm on where you want to go and don’t let them talk you out of it.
Patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to landing your dream assignment; you are probably not the only one who has that dream. Making yourself standout amongst your fellow travel nurses is particularly important if you want to make it to your destination. Having certain certifications such as your CCRN, TNCC or NIH can definitely help you land your job.
Many hospitals also look at the number of years you have been a nurse and years as a travel nurse. If you are just beginning your travel nursing career then it may be slim pickins for your first few assignments; unless you have a specialty like open heart surgery, cath lab, neuro or OB. These specialty jobs are usually high in demand and pay more.
The interview and selection process for hiring travelers isn’t that in depth. Most of the time your recruiter will describe the unit and types of patients they have and you say whether or not your skill set is appropriate for that unit. Your recruiter will forward the info to the manager of the unit and If everything checks out then you will most likely get the job.
There will be a few occasions where you will speak to the nurse manager of the unit. It is important that if you do speak to the nurse manager, you appear flexible and let them know you have no problem floating.
As a travel nurse, your new found specialty will be flexibility and just like with anything else in life, sacrifices will have to be made to get what you want. Sacrificing pay, day/night shift preference, housing and having to float are just some of them.
If you want to travel somewhere bad enough, you will be surprised at what you are willing to do. I personally found that the only deal breaker for me was having to live in an extended stay. There is no way I could live for any amount of weeks without preparing my own meals. You will find your limits and what your deal breakers are after a few assignments.
The reason most of us get into travel nursing is because the idea of getting paid to see this beautiful country is an absolutely amazing experience. Having too focused of a travel plan can blind you to other opportunities that you might miss.
Since my first road trip when I was 16 to San Francisco, I have had it in my head that I wanted to live there. When I first started traveling I told my recruiter that my ultimate goal was to go to San Francisco. Because I was not an experienced travel nurse, there were no opportunities there for me.
Instead, I got to experience the music scene of Austin, Texas, work with awesome critical care nurse practitioners in Tucson, Arizona, meet wonderful friends and my future husband in Los Angeles, California, and drive across this beautiful country to Sarasota, Florida. I’m glad I remained flexible in my adventures. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for those unexpected experiences.
By Crystal Gustafson, RN
Crystal Gustafson is a Critical Care Registered Nurse who spent time as a travel nurse in various states including Arizona, Texas, Florida and California. She has recently accepted a system wide float pool position with Exempla Healthcare System in her hometown of Denver, Colorado and also has blog about prevention and education in healthcare. You can learn more about Crystal on her blog at http://grassrootsprevention.blogspot.com/.