We’ve all been there. The alarm clock goes off in the morning and you head in to work sipping coffee, praying you haven’t developed a tolerance to caffeine. You walk to your unit and work the day – wondering the entire time when this mundane routine is Ever. Going. To. End.
It doesn’t have to be like this. What you may not know is that there’s a whole other world out there.
Travel nursing can show you a new, exciting perspective for your life and your career. While it may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Here are some ways to ensure success as you being your adventure.
Most facilities require at least two years of experience in the field you want to travel in. This is highly suggested since orientation is limited and you are expected to be proficient in your field.
You will find that each facility is different, so be open to learning a new way of doing the same thing. You might just find you like the new way better.
There are hundreds of travel companies and recruiters out there vying for your skills.
Know what is important to you. Some companies might pay more, but you won’t be able to get a hold of your recruiter as easily as you can with a smaller company that pays a little less.
Other questions to ask:
The company you are with is only as good as the recruiter overseeing your contract. They are your liaison during your time away from home. Make sure they are someone you feel like you can trust.
Not everyone meshes well together. Never feel like you can’t ask for a different recruiter with the same company or decide to switch companies after your contract is over.
Sometimes you will feel more appreciated at your assignments than you did at your permanent job.
Make sure you read your contract to ensure it states your limits. If you interviewed for day shift, make sure it says that you are willing to only work that shift.
Your contract is your best friend.
If there is something you are not willing to do, make sure your recruiter writes it in.
This also includes time off in the middle of a contract. This ensures you know what shifts, call, time off, pay, etc. you are receiving during this assignment.
These hospitals want you! They need help, but offering services that you are not confident in will not help anyone. Be honest with which cases and types of patient you know you can care for safely.
If you are in an assignment and are asked to care for a patient outside of your scope of practice, speak up and let the charge nurse know your comfort level.
Example: Some places Operating Room nurses are cross trained into the PACU. I have not been trained as a PACU nurse and would never agree to care for post-operative patients. I would let them know this in my interview and make sure it is written on my contract.
It might be your first time away from home, in a strange city, and without any friends.
What if you don’t like the hospital you are at and the people aren’t friendly? Keep in mind that you are only there for 13 weeks. While you might not fit in perfectly everywhere you go, don’t give up! There are more places to go and adventures to be had.
The best thing about travel nursing…You know there is an end point and you will never have to look back.
The next assignment might be your favorite one.
It always sounds weird asking another adult to be my friend. Something so easy to do as a child seems daunting as an adult.
I have met some of my best friends during my travel assignment and have kept in touch with them over the years. It’s great to make friends who are local so they can show you around the city and introduce you to more people.
I will always make it a point to go out when I am invited, even if I am tired. Remember, work is always better when you are there with your friends. So open yourself up to becoming friends with those you work with.
The United States is a beautiful country. You can decide if you want to be in the city, by the beach, in the mountain, or even near the flat corn fields.
Most companies will reimburse you for your travels. Take this time to make a road trip out of it.
Stop in different cities along the way to your next assignment. Get to know the country you live in and all it has to offer.
The experiences and memories are priceless.
The travel community is HUGE!
One of the easiest ways to ask for help is to join a travel nurse page on Facebook. It is filled with travelers who know exactly what you are going through. Most likely you are not the only travel nurse in your city or even at your hospital.
Reach out to other travel nurses in your area to go out to dinner, see a concert, or go bungee jumping! There is always someone willing to hang out.
This is my most favorite suggestion. You have gotten through your first couple assignments and been paid the big bucks. Your bills are being paid off.
DON’T FORGET TO TAKE A VACATION!
After years of working in a permanent facility with only a few weeks of PTO and fighting for that one week off, you are now free to take as much time as you want.
RELAX! There will always be another job when you get back. Make sure you have enough money to get you to your next assignment since most jobs don’t offer PTO.
You should have made enough money to take that beach vacation or trip you’ve always wanted to go on.
Spoil yourself… You’ve earned it!
Leah has been a traveling operating room nurse for 5 years. She enjoys exploring her assignment destination and even takes trips internationally in between contracts. Her dog, Dakota, joins her on the road and is happy to hike a mountain, swim in the ocean, or just stick her head out the window for the ride.