Interview With A Travel Nurse: How To Prepare To Be A Rock Star Travel Nurse – Before You Are One
Travelnursing.org interviewed travel nurse Kyle Leffel, RN about what advice he would give to new nurses preparing to travel.
Should I look to diversify my specialty?
I would say focus more on what you already know, rather than attempt to learn something completely new.
Remember, when you are working as a travel nurse hospitals and other facilities are not paying you to you learn your nursing skills. They are paying you because you are considered to be an expert in your given specialty. They expect you to “hit the ground running” so to speak.
What certifications should I get?
It is universal that you have to obtain your CPR/AED and basic life support (BLS) certifications regardless of your specialty, but each specialty will also require specialized certifications.
For example, if you are like me and like cardiac progressive care units, you better know your EKG’s and heart rhythms like that back of your hand because this is a must have, and you can expect them to test you on them.
Certifications are fun to learn, and are one of the many tools that nurses learn in order to save a life, but remember each certification has to be renewed at some point. So the more you obtain the more money you have to spend in order to keep it.
Which certifications are the most widely accepted?
CPR/AED and BLS certification are a must have in every facility, but the caveat is that they have to be certified by the American Heart Association. I have seen nurses get turned away because they were certified by the American Red Cross and not by the American Heart Association.
If you are going to travel I would suggest getting certified in CPR/AED, BLS and ACLS with the American Heart Association. This will just make your life easier when applying for jobs and contracts.
Is working in a hospital preferred over other types of facilities?
Yes – if you want to travel I would suggest getting some experience in the hospitals. If you have never worked in a hospital system before and expect to take contracts in busy hospitals, employers may shy away from you. Not because you’re a bad candidate, but you are not familiar with all the hospital dynamics.
Also, the vast majority of the contracts are for hospitals. So you will greatly improve your chances of finding contracts if you are familiar with the hospitals.
Any advice on using my first year as a nurse to give me a leg up as a travel nurse?
In my honest opinion, I think you should have two years of nursing experience before traveling.
Your first year should be focused on your basic foundations of being a nurse. Use this time to develop your “rock star” assessment skills. You need to be extremely comfortable with your assessment skills before traveling; because that’s the last thing you need to worry about while traveling to a completely new work environment.
You don’t want to be listening to your patient’s lung sounds and wonder “is that crackles or rails I hear?” I say this because I have seen young nurses with only a year of nursing experience crack under the pressure, during their first assignment.
Your second year should be dedicated to a specialty of your choice. Take this year to learn all the little things about it – doesn’t matter what specialty it is, just get to know everything!
Most importantly make sure you love what you’re doing! If you love what you are doing, it will show and you will be an amazing travel nurse.
To learn more about Kyle and his decision to become a travel nurse, check out A Journey into Travel Nursing.
For more on this series:
- Nurse Q&A: Preparing to Travel Before Nursing School
- Nurse Q&A: Preparing for a New Facility
- Nurse Q&A: How to Recover From Failing the NCLEX
- Interview With A Travel Nurse: Sure-fire Signs You Are Working With The Wrong Company
- Interview With A Travel Nurse: What Was Your First Travel Assignment Like