Interview With A Travel Nurse: How Should a Travel Nurse Prepare for New Facilities
Travelnursing.org interviewed travel nurse Kyle Leffel, RN about how he usually prepares to start new assignments at different facilities.
How much research on your new facility did you do before your first assignment?
Honestly, I didn’t have to do much. If you are traveling with a great company and a great recruiter like I did, you shouldn’t have to do much. My recruiter included many emails, phone numbers, maps and all the other details I needed for my first day of orientation. It was a very streamlined process and made me feel very relaxed, especially on my first contract.
What do you normally try to learn about your new location before you arrive?
Before arriving at my new location I try to learn what’s around the area. I love the outdoors so my wife and I would always try to find local hiking trails and parks. We would also want to see what local attractions are in the area. While we were in Arizona we attended a local renaissance festival and it was awesome. Each new location offers its own unique attractions and local restaurants, and we loved discovering them.
Do you usually try to make any connections on social media before you arrive?
No. At least I never did. I usually made all of my connections during my first day of orientation. Most of the time the hospital I went to needed the help of travel nurses as well. This is where I met most of my travel nurse buddies. They made great companions for all of the much needed nights out.
How long does it usually take you to get up to speed at a new facility?
For me it didn’t take long, but this can vary from person to person. Partially because it depends on how much experience you have as a nurse before traveling. I am very confident in my nursing assessment skills and I don’t require much time to knock out a solid assessment. The hardest part is learning the doctors, your standing orders, and the overall flow and dynamics of the unit. I was usually comfortable after 2 or 3 weeks. If I ever had a question or a problem, the staff, unit manager, and my recruiter was always there for me. I usually never had to include my recruiter in anything, but when I did he would call the unit manager directly and everything would get solved in less than 24 hours. Both the hospital staff and travel nursing company want you to have a positive experience. They will always be there for you.
Were most hospitals pretty similar to your home facility?
There was never a lot for me to learn about the facility itself. Most facilities are the same. Once you learn the layout of the units and of the hospital itself, it becomes like home to you. Some facilities are really nice, while others could use some upgrades. But within each facility lies an opportunity to learn something new from a fellow coworker. It could be from a helpful physician or even from another travel nurse. Having this ability to travel to a new location every three months, presents a great opportunity to work with other skilled professionals and learn a new trick of the trade.
Are there any deal breakers regarding a facility that would make you deny an assignment?
Yes! For me I wanted to be guaranteed my hours. I wanted to make sure I got my three twelve hour shifts in a week. Another thing I would check would be how close I was living to the facility. I didn’t want to have a long commute into work. So if the facility was out in the middle of nowhere, I was likely to shy away from that facility. Another thing I would make sure to be aware of is if the facility did not include a contract cancelation clause. This would basically protect the nurse in the event your facility wanted to cancel a contract. Without it, a facility could cancel an assignment for no reason. Thus, leaving me in the middle of nowhere without a paycheck coming in.
What is the most surprising thing you have seen at a new facility?
Every facility is different. When a facility calls for the added help from travel nurses, we are often there for that reason, to help. It could be due to a nursing strike or simply due to an unusual high census. So I have never really walked into a new facility expecting anything shocking, or even anything surprising. But there was this one facility out west that I will never forget. It not only surprised me but impressed me as well. This facility housed a very large work out facility for all of its employees and even had a swimming pool. I had never seen this before, and it really showed me that this organization had its employees’ health in mind. It had a little spa room for free massages and everything. As nurses, we are constantly exposed to physical and emotional stress. So it was very comforting to me to see this. Hopefully all health care facilities will follow suite.
To learn more about Kyle and his decision to become a travel nurse, check out A Journey into Travel Nursing.
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By Kyle Leffel, RN
Kyle Leffel has spent much of his travel nursing career by working up and down the west coast. He has spent the majority of his nursing career in cardiac critical/progressive care. Kyle Is currently working in his home state of Indianapolis, IN as a medical administrator with Medcor. When Kyle is not working, he is enjoying the trails and wilderness by backpacking and kayaking with his friends and family. You can follow Kyle on LinkedIn.