You’ve seen the incredible posts from the other travel nurses on your floor, and you see them eating beautiful food, buying new cars, and enjoying gorgeous views. Meanwhile, you’re working the same job as them, yet they are making double your pay, or maybe even triple. For most of us, our staff positions are short staffed, burnt out, and have crappy managers. You see the writing on the wall; It’s time to be a travel nurse!
Here are some of the first questions most nurses have:
How soon can I start to travel nursing??
The classic answer is 2 years of experience in your field, HOWEVER! You have to take into account the current climate. Right now, there is a huge nursing shortage, and RNs are leaving the field of nursing at rates they never have before. It is definitely not unheard of that you could probably get by with 1.5 years of experience without a problem; you might not get the nice big hospital you wanted, but you’ll get an offer or two. Applying with 1 year of experience is probably pushing it for a lot of hospitals, and if a hospital is willing to take you with 1 year of experience, check out the hospital under <> to see what previous travel nurses are saying about that hospital, because it could be a red flag.
Where do I start?
When it comes to travel nursing, you should figure out your priorities when you travel. Here are a few of the top priorities for nurses: money, shift hours, location, hospital type, and hobbies. Let’s look into these different points.
Day shift or night shift lifeIf you know you can ONLY work day shift, then let your recruiter know that it’s a dealbreaker for you. You may have to compromise on location, or pay, but if being on days is your way of being human, don’t apologize for it. That’s your truth, and make that non negotiable. And don’t settle for rotating either, because that can be harder than just working straight one or the other.
LocationAlright, this one seems pretty self explanatory, but the bottom line is where do you want to be? We aren’t just talking about what state or climate; do you want to be in a big city or a small town? Can you live somewhere that doesn’t have a Trader Joes or a Walmart? Remember, not everywhere gets Two-Day Prime shipping. And don’t forget to look up what the weather is like in those areas either. Some places might not be cold in the winter, but there might be a rainy season.
HobbiesFor some of us, this is the reason we travel. Skiers and snowboarders chase snow in the winter, looking for those Colorado or California mountains, or maybe you like to hike and explore new terrain in Arizona and Washington. Maybe you’re a foodie, and want to explore the new culinary finds in those big cities, while spicing life up with a museum or two. Is that night life calling to you? DJs, flashing lights, music festivals, and letting loose might just be your jam. Whatever it is that feeds you on your days off, if that is your priority, then own it!
Hospital TypeThis topic is one that is probably overlooked the most, mostly because all of us assume that the hospital floor we will be working at will be very similar to the one we currently work on. But this really might not be the case! If you started at a large hospital with over 300 beds and lots of staff support (transporters, rapid response teams, break nurses, phlebotomy, IV start team), maybe a small 100 bed or even 25 bed hospital is really out of your comfort zone! A teaching hospital might also be your norm, and if it isn’t, well, you might be in for a rough start getting to work with residents. Long story short, this aspect might not be your number one priority, but definitely something you want to keep in mind.
MoneyFor most people, this is why they travel. We all know that none of us are being paid what we deserve for the job we do, so when someone finally starts to offer a pay check that matches the suffering we have to put up with, it feels pretty good. So if you are looking to get the most amount of money, check out this blog link for tips on getting the best pay you can get. You might not be certain where to start and how much you should be asking for, again check out that <> but know that if you have financial goals you want to reach, then make your paycheck your priority, and let your recruiter know.
How do I make myself attractive to the hospitals?
The best way to make yourself look attractive as a travel nurse is pretty simple. Always keep your BLS, ACLS, PALS or NRP up to date. Are you hoping to get to New York? Get yourself (have your agency pay for) a license for the state you want to work. Next, have experience; hospitals like it when you have experience in your field, and the more the better. During the interview, don’t forget to mention if you worked at a large, Level I trauma center, or if you worked at a smaller hospital, that you’re familiar with more than just your area of expertise, but that you’ve also helped in other departments. If you have been in your field long enough, you can get a specialty certification, such as electronic fetal monitoring, or med-surg nurse certification.
How do I find a job?
There are a few ways to find a job when you want to be a Travel Nurse.
The classic way is to go through your travel agency and recruiter. Tell your recruiter(s) where or what kind of job you are looking for and they will get you a list or tell you what’s available. Usually all of this will come in the form of a pay package that will include the hospital name, type of floor, hours expected to work, shift type, and the breakdown of your pay (hourly and stipend)
The second way is the good old fashioned classic way, is to go on the internet. You can look at jobs posted on agency websites, travel nurse websites, and sometimes people in FB groups will post that they have job openings. If you know you want a specific hospital, some of them will directly post their travel contracts up so that they don’t have to go through an agency (this is harder to come across). Most of the time, going through these avenues will not get you complete pay package details. Most of the time, you’ll have to get in touch with a recruiter and connect up with the agency and recruiter to get all the details of the pay package.
Am I ready?
Are you ready to start travel nursing? Only you are going to know the answer to that question. Travel nursing has the luxury of looking like a great time on Instagram. It is completely possible to end up working on a floor that is worse than where you came from; but it’s also possible for it to be better. You also are going to feel like a complete fish out of water when it comes to knowing the system at this new place.
However, nursing doesn’t change from hospital to hospital. Giving meds, reading orders, communicating with docs, changing wounds, and cleaning up patients is the same everywhere. Whenever you’re ready to step out of your comfort zone, travel nursing will be there. And Travelers Handoff will be here, with information from previous nurses to help you with making that leap and figuring out what might be the best assignment for you!