Travel Nursing Tips for Moving During COVID-19
Taking a travel nursing assignment during “normal” circumstances can be both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. There are many unknowns with travel nursing, from what your housing will look like to what kind of people you will be working with, to the differences in workflow, and getting used to new equipment on your floor.
But taking a travel nursing assignment during a global pandemic adds a whole other level to the experience. No matter if you’re a new travel nurse, or an experienced one, moving during COVID-19 can feel a little scary. Here are some tips for moving if you’re a travel nurse working during the coronavirus outbreak.
Know the Rules
In general, travel nurses traveling to areas of emergency are exempt from any state-issued travel restrictions. (You can check current travel restrictions on the CDC’s website.) That means that if you are traveling to a state that is not allowing travel in, you will still be allowed to travel into the state for work as a travel nurse. Just be sure that you bring all required paperwork with you, including:
- Your driver’s license
- Documentation from your agency on your assignment
- Your nursing license
- Any temporary-issued state nurse license
- Any hospital ID you have
- It can also be helpful to have paperwork on where you are staying
- Any applicable medical records, such as if you have had the COVID-19 antibody test
And although you should definitely be tracking your travel-related expenses for any nursing assignment, it’s especially important to keep detailed records if you’re traveling for COVID, since you may have to work with your agency to get reimbursed should your assignment get suddenly canceled.
Have Back-Up Housing Options
It’s definitely not ideal, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared to have at least one back-up housing option if you are traveling to a COVID-affected area. This is because some travel nurses are seeing assignments get canceled with little warning, such as if the hospital or facility closes the area you were scheduled to work, or if they have to suddenly make cuts if they determine they are overstaffed.
We would recommend that you know your agency’s policy on housing if your assignment gets canceled inside and out, so there are no surprises. It could also be helpful if you were aware of optional housing locations, such as the many areas offering free or discounted hotel rooms, should something happen with your arranged housing. You may also find yourself wanting a more private housing option if you have to be quarantined due to exposure or infection with COVID-19.
Try to Limit Exposure Along Your Route
If you’ve been working as a nurse, or have any reason to suspect you could have been exposed to COVID and have not been quarantined for the full recommended 14 days, it’s preferable that you prepare as much as possible ahead of time to limit any exposing others along the way.
That means making sure your gas tank is full, your vehicle is up-to-date on maintenance, you have masks to pack with you, and plenty of food and water to get you through where you need to go. And we aren’t saying outright some nurses have gotten creative with the bathroom break arrangements, but rumor has it, there have been some dependable moments if you get our drift.
Prep Ahead of Time
As much as possible, find out what you will need in your living area ahead of time and try to add in extra time for any deliveries or services you might need. For instance, if you normally use a moving company, call earlier than usual to build-in any COVID-related delays and book your spot in advance.
It’s also a good idea to thoroughly vet where you are staying to make sure they have everything you need to survive, should you end up quarantined. For instance:
- Are food deliveries places available nearby?
- Can you schedule a grocery delivery that will be waiting for you when you get there?
- Is there a pharmacy you can access?
- What about on-site washing and drying?
- Where can you park your car, and will the agency cover long-term parking if it comes to that?
Think ahead through scenarios and make sure you can have what you need if you end up sheltering in place. It’s also helpful if you can plan on doing as much as you can yourself, in case friends or services you normally rely on to help you move boxes, etc., are not available. More lightweight or travel-friendly options, like camping cots or chairs, might be useful during a time like this.
Make Sure You Have Some Creature Comforts
It’s always important to have some comforts of home with you anytime you’re on a new travel nursing assignment, but during a global pandemic, it’s more important than ever. You may get to your new assignment, only to find that the local coffee shops are closed (the horror), or you can’t depend on picking up that favorite scented lotion to help boost your spirits after a long shift.
As much as you can, be sure to pack and bring along some creature comforts from home that will help you get through what could be a difficult time at work. Anything, such as:
- Your favorite coffee or tea
- Freezer meals
- Cozy touches, like blankets, candles, or essential oils
- Pictures of loved ones (yes, sometimes “real” pics can help!)
- Preloaded movies on your devices if Internet access might be an issue
And of course, if you can, pack the most important item that you can to ensure you’re not, well, SOL, to excuse our language. Yup, that’s right — toilet paper. It’s the hot commodity item, and we want to make sure that you’re covered.