TRAVEL NURSING FAQ
What is a travel nurse?
Travel nursing started out as a response to a shortage of available nurses - where industry nurses were called upon to travel to work in temporary nursing positions, mostly in hospitals. Today it refers to any healthcare professional that takes on a temporary healthcare assignment, of varying length. While travel nursing does refer specifically to the nursing profession it is also a blanket term that can refer to a variety of health professions including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology and even doctors and dentists.
Nurses often pursue travel nursing to take advantage of the higher pay, professional growth and development, as well as a bit of travel and adventure.
Travel nurses usually sign-up with a travel nursing recruitment agency to act as their intermediary and negotiator for assignments at hospitals - but nurses may also work as independent contractors.
To check out Next Move’s latest jobs:
What are the qualifications to be a travel nurse?
To get started as a travel nurse there are a few things you should note:
Most travel nurses are registered nurses (RNs)
In order to start the process for travel nursing with Next Move you will also need:
Have 2+ years of experience
Active license for your specialty
2 manager references within the last 2 years
Next Move will assign you a recruiter who will work with you one-on-one to find the assignment that best matches your needs. Your recruiter will be your contact person and help guide you through the entire process of locating and applying for that ideal position.
Think about where you would like to go, the type of nursing you would like to do and the size of the facility you hope to work in. Providing all of the above information to your recruiter will help them find the assignment that is just right for you. The last step is interviewing for the position. The interview will likely be by phone or video chat. If all goes well – you’ll have an offer within a few days!
The requirements to be a travel nurse are much the same as those requirements to become a staff nurse. You should first pursue a nursing degree through a two or four-year university. Obtaining an associate degree (ADN) or bachelor’s degree (BSN) in nursing is required. A BSN is not required to be a travel nurse, but many health care facilities will only hire BSN-prepared nurses. Next Move will match the nurse appropriately based on educational requirements.
After completion of an accredited nursing program, successful completion of the NCLEX-RN is required to obtain your nursing license.
Most travel nurse agencies require a minimum of one year (and sometimes two years) of hands-on experience in the chosen specialty of nursing
Certification and Credentialing
No additional exams are required for travel nursing. Based on the specialty, certification(s) may be required. Examples include:
Completion of skills test for your specialty
Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) may be required
Intensive Care (ICU) Nursing
Stroke care certification
Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
Women's Health/Labor and Delivery Nursing
Critical care nursing (adults, pediatric, neonatal)
Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) may be required
Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) may be required
Emergency Room Nursing
Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) certification
Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP)
As a travel nurse, you will need to get your nursing license in the state in which you choose to work. Each state has its own nursing license requirements and some states offer a Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) which is an agreement between states that allows nurses to hold one valid nursing license that works in numerous states.
Learn more about Nursing Compact States here. Many states throughout the Midwest have an NLC.
At Next Move, we’ll walk you through the process to make sure you’re licensed in the state(s) in which you’d like to work. We pride ourselves on our streamlined nursing license process, which has helped many nurses expedite the licensing process.
Whether you're interested in a nursing compact license, an RN walk through state or simply need to renew an existing nursing license, we are here to help.
Most hospitals and healthcare facilities prefer travel nurses to have at least one year of nursing experience in the nursing specialty they will be contracted for. This can vary by assignment and hospital, so the best way to find out if you will qualify for a specific assignment is to reach out to a recruiter directly.
Check out our Nursing Job Board today!
Trauma Nurse Core Course (TNCC) certification
Is travel nursing right for you?
If you’re a staff nurse that has ever considered travel nursing, then this is the section for you. Travel nursing offers a variety of benefits and a change of pace for anyone looking for something new, but it’s not for everyone. Like any position, travel nursing jobs have their ups and downs, and here we’ll take a little dive into what those are.
Interested in what other nurses have to say about travel nursing?
Check out our Nurse Testimonials Page.
Are you Looking for Stability?
The joy of a staff nursing job is you know where you’ll be employed almost indefinitely. And while the job of course varies from day to day as different patients are checked-in and checked-out, many nurses enjoy returning to the same job each week, with the same co-workers, at the same health care facility.
Travel nurses on the other hand exchange a little of that stability for the thrill of adventure. You can absolutely plan assignments back-to-back so you’ll always have consistent (and often higher) income but you may not always be able to work at the same hospital, with the same patients. Instead you’ll jump into an exciting world where everything and everyone is new. You’ll expand your skill set and master the art of “showing your stuff” at each new facility you work at.
If you do prefer the longevity a staff position provides but want to get your toes wet in travel nursing, consider asking your recruiter about extending your contract. While not always possible, many travel nurses end up working at the same hospital for at least six months, which gives them plenty of time to establish some roots, build some friendships, and get to know the area in which they’re living. If you’re considering travel nursing for the first time, this may be a great in-between for you.
Are you really going to miss those office politics?
Guess what staff nurses never miss when they take jobs as travel nurses? Drama.
Unfortunately, when you work with the same people each week, it’s a bit hard to avoid disputes over schedules, pay raises, promotions, even staffing ratios.
When you work as a travel nurse – you’re immediately free of all that. You’re the new kid on the block and can easily stay out of all the office politics because you’re not stressing about being promoted or getting a better position – you’ve already got it!
The one downside is making friends will be a little harder because you're only on the assignment temporarily. However, everyone appreciates a nurse that focuses on their job and helps others accomplish theirs, and often times, invites to ‘Taco Tuesday’ happen quicker than you’d think.
To learn more about how to make friends in your new location, check out Midwest Discovery, choose the state your considering, and click on “How to make friends in…”.
When working as a staff nurse, it’s easy to quickly become an expert at various aspects of your job. You know exactly where things are, who to call, and what specific patients need. You’ll also know the most popular diagnosis, how to treat them and you’re familiar with the seasonal illnesses/injuries of your location.
But if you’ve “been there, done that” and are looking to try something new (without the headache of switching specialties or going back to school) travel nursing is your answer. You can take a job in your home state to start off or jump right into a completely new territory. You’ll see a completely different set of patients, enjoy the various regional differences and most likely tackle disorders and/or illnesses you’ve never seen before. You’ll also work with different technology, a new set of friendly faces (doctors, nurses, administrative support staff), and learn a completely new way to get things done.
Of course, both staff and travel nursing jobs have their own unique opportunities to learn, you’ll just have to decide which is right for you.
Pay Structure Differences
There really isn’t too much difference between how a staff nurse is paid as compared to a travel nurse. Both track their hours. While staff nurses usually clock in with a badge before each shift and get paid on a bi-weekly basis by the hospital, travel nurses usually submit hours worked to Next Move, and are paid directly by Next Move on a weekly basis. If you find any discrepancies with your pay, you’ll want to work them out directly with Next Move and not the hospital for which you’re working.
So one of the obvious perks of being a staff nurse is earning paid time off. Depending on how long a staff nurse has worked for an organization they’ll earn anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks of PTO each year. In addition, most staff nurses will also have paid sick days. Travel nurses at Next Move do not acquire any paid or sick time off – which can of course seem super lame at the outset, and frustrating if you do need to take time off during an assignment. But what staff nurses never get, and travel nurses get in-between assignments is the ability to take time off whenever, and for however long they so choose. Because travel nurses tend to earn more per hour as compared to staff nurses (Next Move travel nurses earn $1900 a week on average) – the average travel nurse only works 36 weeks a year. That’s 16 weeks off a year!
Staff Nursing or Travel Nursing?
A big difference between travel nurses and staff nurses are what they hold to be valuable in their personal lives. This can include raising a family, spending a lot of time with close friends, having new experiences, or going on new adventures. Travel nurses tend to be of the “new experiences/adventures” variety and usually have just a few years of experience and are seeking to take on new jobs and learn new things. Or they’re the empty nester type looking to spice up a lifelong career. Or they can be the young, adventurous family type that wishes to take on a nomadic lifestyle.
Think about what values are important to you and choose the career path that best suits those values.
Inerested in travel nursing opportunities?
Check out our job board here!
How much do travel nurses earn per year?
One of the most prominent benefits of being a travel nurse is having a stable, highly in-demand career with the opportunity to travel all over the country, and even the world. But wait, there’s more!
A Flexible Schedule
One of the most beautiful aspects of travel nursing is you get to decide when, where, and for how long your next assignment will be. You can take as long of a break as you need in-between assignments or simply hop from one assignment to the next, the choice is yours. Assignments vary in length, but the most popular length is 13-weeks. Some assignments also offer the flexibility to arrange for longer weekend and shorter work weeks.
Extremely Well Compensated
Of course none of this would be fun if you weren’t making a ton of money doing it. According to Indeed, the average yearly salary for a travel nurse is $75,109. However, since pay is competitive in travel nursing and we have a low overhead at Next Move, our nurses make on average of upwards of $100,000 a year for full time work.
Travel nurses are given a unique opportunity to earn more than their staff nurse counterparts – in part because they’re filling in for a nurse shortage but also because they have the backing of travel nurse agencies, like Next Move, who go to bat for them to ensure they are getting the best compensation package possible.
The Travel Bug
Now, what’s travel nursing without a little bit of travel thrown in for fun? Living in a different city every few months means there will always be new and exciting things to try, foods to eat, places to visit, and interesting locals to meet! While moving around so often isn’t for everyone, it does come with some unique built-in personality builders like gaining more confidence and some career enhancing knowledge like learning about how nursing varies in different cities, hospitals, and healthcare facilities and what it’s like to work in a non-profit vs. for-profit or a trauma center vs. a community hospital.
Learning Mad Skills Beyond Nursing
One of the cool things about travel nursing is you’ll get to develop skills you simply wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn as a staff nurse. Take for example the fact that you can gain experience in different types of ICUs and patient experiences that you simply wouldn’t get if you were at the same hospital day in and day out. By encountering an assortment of different people and situations in a healthcare setting, you’ll also learn to adapt by developing your critical thinking and communication skills. Not to mention the skills you’ll learn by getting acquainted with a new city, finding your way around and making new friends.
A People Person
If you’re a people person, then by golly, this is the job for you. As travel nurses move from facility to facility, they’re given endless opportunities to meet and connect with people from all walks of life. Not only does this provide them with a broadened perspective on life, but it also increases their network of healthcare professionals. You never know where one connection might lead!
Job Security – Growth Opportunities
As we all know, there’s a nursing shortage and an endless demand for skilled nurses. In addition to the high compensation rate (the average nurse at Next Move earns close to a $100K a year) travel nursing helps your career in the long run as well. You’ll be exposed to many sides of the nursing profession and get to view it from different angles throughout your various assignments. Not only will this help you pinpoint the direction you’d like your nursing career to take but also give you a multitude of options to choose from when you decide to advance your career.
Check out our job board today!
How do travel nurses file taxes?
Travel nurses filing their taxes for the tax year will need to take the current year’s new tax laws into consideration before they file. On a yearly basis, there may be a number of features and a number of changes that can potentially affect travel nurses.
Hire a Tax Professional
This is probably our best bit of advice. Even if you’ve been doing your own taxes without any issues previously, the recent changes with the tax laws can be a bit confusing. The benefit of hiring a tax professional is two-fold:
They have a better understanding of the changes in tax laws and will compute your tax bill or refund with the utmost accuracy
They can advise you of the steps you can take now to maximize any benefits in your future tax filings.
Be Aware of Your Tax Home
Those new to travel nursing will not be familiar with the term “tax home”. A tax home is basically the city in which you’ve worked for the past year. It does not necessarily mean the place you consider your permanent residence.
Travel nurses may have had several “homes” in several states throughout the year. For tax purposes they need to choose one specific location to call “home” in order to calculate work-related expenses incurred away from that home. Recent tax laws have done away with personal business expenses (including mileage, CEUs, licenses, meals and incidentals).
Every tax filing is different, so it’s imperative you discuss your situation with a qualified tax professional.
Don’t Forget State Income Taxes
If you’ve worked in multiple states throughout the year, yes you will need to pay state income taxes in each of those states. One important note: you will not want to file as a “part year” resident in any of the states your worked at – even though you may have lived there for some time. You will only want to claim residency in the “permanent home” you used on your federal income tax return. Confused yet? Yes! It’s very confusing! Which is why we’ll just keep recommending you hire a qualified tax professional – especially if this is your first-time filing taxes as a travel nurse.
Keep Your Receipts
While recent tax laws have done away with many of the itemized deductions you could once claim as an employee– you will want to hold on to your receipts for 7 years in order to justify any reimbursements you’ve received as you could be required to show the receipts that were used to calculate your deductions in previous years.
Negotiate Your Reimbursement Package
When possible going forward, try to negotiate non-taxable reimbursements for travel, meals, continuing education requirements, licenses, uniforms and other equipment you may need for an assignment into your employment contracts. Since you can no longer deduct many of these expenses on your own when you file your tax return, perhaps your staffing agency will try to make individual contracts more attractive with a more valuable reimbursement package.
Next Move will give you the maximum allowable IRS travel stipend plus a meals and expenditure stipend as part of your contract.
*We are not tax professionals. Please consult with a professional tax accountant to discuss your individual tax return
How can you make the MOST money as a travel nurse?
Top 5 Ways to Make the Most Money as a Travel Nurse
From the factors that affect travel nursing pay to the highest paying travel assignments to how to find those top paying gigs, we'll walk you through some general principles you can follow to maximize your overall compensation.
If you’ve been a nurse for a while you may have heard the sentiment: “Travel nursing isn’t worth it anymore.” Usually grumbled by folks who’ve entered the industry with unrealistic expectations and the misconception that travel nurses all drive around in brand new BMWs flaunting their Hermès bags.
The reality is while travel nurses do make much more than staff nurses, it’s not realistic to assume they’ll make enough to drop $40,000 on a purse. Pay rates do fluctuate, last-minute contract cancellations do happen, and unplanned expenses do come up. We’re not here to tell you a story that isn’t true. We’re here to tell you how it really is. But it’s not bad news, not by a long shot.
At Next Move our travel nurses earn anywhere from $1600-$3000 per week, gross. For a 13-week contract that can range anywhere from $20,800 to $39,000 take home in just 3 short months. And some of those contracts come with thousand-dollar sign-on and completion bonuses. In addition, our nurses receive non-taxed stipends for housing, meals and other incidentals while on assignment.
On average our nurses earn close to $100,000 a year and a nurse with only 2-years of experience can easily earn as much per hour as a staff nurse with 15-years’ experience. While it’s not a brand-new BMW or a $40,000 handbag, it’s a realistic and concrete way to make a bunch of money, in a short time. Not to mention the endless adventure, the unique people you’ll meet on each of your assignments and the complete and absolute freedom you’ll feel staying clear of hospital politics.
Here, we’d like to walk you through some general principles you can follow to maximize your overall compensation.
What are the top factors that influence travel nurse pay?
It should come as no surprise that areas with a high cost of living come with a higher pay rate, and those areas with a lower cost of living, a lower pay rate.
So which states pay the most but also have a higher cost of living? California, Massachusetts, New York, and Texas. States in the Midwest and the South tend to pay a little less but are also offset by the lower cost of living expenses like rent, food, gas and entertainment. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has stated that for one of our more popular travel locations, Arkansas, every $100 earned is really more like $114 because of how far those dollars go in Arkansas.
Your chosen nursing specialty will also affect your rate of pay. Non-specialty nurses are generally paid at a lower rate of pay than specialized nurses. And specialized nurses with in-demand skills and credentials, will earn even more.
Did You Know?
Next Move offers educational opportunities and payment for licensing and certification renewals (ACLS, BLS, PALS, etc.).
Connect with us to learn more about how to take advantage of these opportunities.
It should come as no surprise that night shift and weekend assignments pay more and are more prevalent in the world of travel nursing. Along with that, some of the highest paying assignments pay more because of non-ideal conditions, such as an undesirable location. (This can include areas with a high-crime rate, or areas that are extremely rural).
If your number one goal is to earn as much money as possible, request these types of assignments. It’s important to note here that quality of life is what’s most important. If night shifts, weekends or living in a sketchy part of town aren’t your thing – skip them. Being miserable is no way to live and not a great experience to put your patients through.
The number of hours you work each week will of course affect your earning potential as well. And there are a variety of contracts to choose from:
36 hours per week (three 12-hour shifts)
36/48 hours per week (weekly rotation of 3 and 4 shifts a week)
40 hours per week (four 10-hour shifts or five 8-hour shifts)
48 hours per week (four 12-hour shifts)
If your personal goal is to work as many hours per week during your contract ask your recruiter to look for the contracts that have the most hours.
Highest Paying Assignments
Before we get into how to make the most money as a travel nurse, we should name a few sure-fire ways to boost your income potential.
Rapid response and “crisis” assignments
Can you be ready to rock n’ roll on a brand-new assignment in less than 2-weeks? Then you’ll also be ready to earn the highest rates in the travel nursing industry. Rapid response and “crisis” assignments, which usually last less than 13 weeks, aren’t always (but can be) tied to actual real-life, man-made disasters, like a hurricane. In general, these assignments come up due to an unexpected census spike, unit openings, emergency responses, EMR upgrades, or short -term staff shortages.
If you’re interested in this type of opportunity, l
et one of our specialists know, and we’ll make sure you have all your credentials, tests, licenses and other documents in order. These types of assignments usually range from 36-48 hours of week, and of course become more lucrative past the 40-hour mark given overtime pay rates.
It’s not unusual to find an assignment offering a sign-on, completion, retention or referral bonus to go along with a lucrative hourly rate.
At Next Move, sign-on and completion bonuses are given by the hospital at the beginning of a contract and at the end of an assignment. A typical bonus will be $500 for sign-on, and an additional $1500 for completion of the contract.
Next Move also offers a $500 referral bonus for referring another nurse to us and has a lucrative "Ambassador Program" for nurses that work consecutive contracts. We reward our nurses with everything from large cash bonuses, free vacations, nurse attire and an assortment of gift cards.
In the unfortunate event a hospital and a union can’t agree on the specification of a labor contract or bargaining agreement, the union of nurses will often go on strike. When this happens, hospitals will often bring in a bunch of travel nurses to care for the patients until the strike ends. Due to the added stress and urgency of these situations, travel nurses who work during strikes often earn much more money than typical travel assignments.
How to Find the Highest Paying Assignments
Now that we’ve laid out what types of assignments pay the most, and how you can even earn a little on top of all that – how do you go about finding these great assignments? The secret is – there’s no secret at all.
You can ask one of our recruiters directly about which assignments pay the most. Simply state that you’re looking to for top dollar and are only interested in the highest paying assignments. You can even be specific about what that dollar amount is.
At Next Move we don’t believe in bargaining – we simply give you the highest pay rates possible. That’s why instead of giving a set stipend amount, we give you the maximum allowable IRS travel stipend plus a healthy meals and expenditure stipend.
5 Ways to Earn the Most Money as a Travel Nurse
1. Find Your Own Housing
Many of the larger travel nurse agencies will sign corporate leases and offer them to their nurse travelers. But those leases come with corporate price tags. Other large agencies will offer you free housing to stay in one of their preferred hotels. But if hefty housing costs and staying in hotels is not your thing, you’ll want to consider finding your own housing, and saving a bit of that housing stipend for something a bit more fun than housing. This way you can choose exactly what part of town you’d like to live, how much you’d like to pay, what sorts of accommodations you’d like to have, all while saving a little money.
We know what you’re thinking: finding housing can be extraordinarily difficult, especially in an area you’re not familiar with. The good news is, your recruiter will have some resrouces and leads to help you find the exact right accomodations for you.
2. Work with a Transparent Travel Nurse Agency
All travel nurse agencies are different and offer different compensation packages. You’ll want to work with one that you feel you can trust, has integrity, is available to you when you need and is always transparent.
What are one of the first signs of full transparency? Agencies that publicly post their job offerings with full disclosure on compensation packages and pay rates. “Call for more information” is the opposite of transparent.
At Next Move we always post as much detail as possible about each of our open positions, including pay rate. We don’t spend your valuable time on negotiations – we simply offer the highest rate possible.
Take a look at this week's top jobs to see just what we mean!
The only thing between you and the highest paying rate available is your recruiter – so make sure (don’t be shy!) to communicate exactly what it is you’re looking for.
Simply looking for the highest paying assignments out there? Ask them. Won’t be happy without a sign-on or completion bonus? Tell them. Can’t work for anything less than $XYZ? Make sure they know that!
3. Get Organized
The key to getting those top assignments is to have all your paperwork in order. That includes making sure your recruiter has an up-to-date resume, skills checklist, references and current nursing license(s).
A back-door view into how we operate at Next Move is that we can’t submit nurses to travel assignments without all the proper paperwork and often many of the assignment’s healthcare organizations come to us with are hired on a first come first serve basis.
We’ve developed strong and trustworthy relationships with our healthcare organizations, so they know no vetting of our nurses is necessary, because we make sure to always provide top quality candidates. The more organized you are the easier it is for us to get you those top paying assignments.
Keep all your paperwork up-to-date and store it online using iCloud, Dropbox or Google Drive. That way, you’ll only have one place to go to send all your documents in a flash. And these days, you don’t even need a scanner to upload your documents – you can easily download a scanner app which will give you the same end result.
4. Work with Multiple Agencies.
It’s true that no agency will have assignments at every location within the United States. So, there’s absolutely no harm in working with more than one agency.
The truth is Next Move specializes in Midwest locations such as Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma. We give our nurses a ton of information about the hospitals in these locations because we’ve staffed them for so long. They’re not just another hospital to us, they’re in our backyard, we network with them, and they email us directly for candidates rather than sending out a mass posting to lots of agencies.
It’s impossible for every agency to have an airtight relationship with every hospital in the country. Simply put, the local agencies will have the stronger relationships and be offering the better assignments.
Work with multiple agencies as it will increase your opportunities, but don’t forget the point above about transparency. Whoever you work with – make sure it’s a good solid, comfortable relationship, because you may be working with them for years to come.
5. Multiple Licenses
Once again, it should come as no surprise that each state has its own nursing license requirements and as a travel nurse you will need to make sure you have a license in the state where you’re looking to get your next assignment.
There are some states where you can get your license in as little as 48-hours and other states, like California, where the same process can take up to 6-months. Many states, however, offer a Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) which is an agreement between states that allows nurses to hold one valid nursing license that works in numerous states.
Many states throughout the Midwest have an NLC. If you’re looking to work in non-NLC state, it’s best to obtain multiple licenses to broaden your job prospects.
At Next Move, we’ll walk you through the process to make sure you’re licensed in the state(s) in which you’d like to work, and often cover the costs associated with licensure.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help with your licensure(s).
So, there you have it! All our tips and tricks for finding the highest paying assignments and making the most of your hard-earned money.
Got questions? Talk to one of our specialists today!
What should every first time travel nurse know?
This particular blog is for all your first-time travelers and even those of you just “thinking” about traveling.
It can be a bit scary to jump into the field of travel nursing because there are SO MANY questions and Google (the mastermind that s/he is) doesn’t always provide the most reliable answers. Pretty sure last thing we googled told us we had cancer, and 48 hours to live so we’re never googling anything again. Kidding!
But in all seriousness – we’re glad you’re here – because below we’re going to give you “19 Tips for a First Time Travel Nurse.”
It’s a crazy exciting career path with a ton of benefits (namely higher pay, flexible schedules, the freedom to travel all across this great country and way (WAY) more time off than most nurses). But you know all this already, and this isn’t an article about the perks of being a travel nurse: this is your guide to successfully navigating your first year of travel nursing.
19 Tips for a First Time Travel Nurse
1. Get Organized
One thing all travel nurses are (or at least become) is organized. No – that doesn’t mean you need to color-code your closet, but it does mean you’ll want to have all your paperwork in order. This includes having all your licensing information, certifications, and health and immunization records up to date. It also means you’re 100% completely prepared for those phone interviews with an up-to-date resume and a list of references.
Add your renewal dates to your calendar and set reminders so that you’re a step ahead of the game when it comes time to renew your licensing and certifications.
2. Be Flexible.
When starting out as a travel nurse, flexibility is key. The more flexible you are with location, setting, facility and pay grade, the more jobs will be open to you.
As time passes and your get your “travel nursing wings” (so to speak) your experience will allow you to be more choosey with your assignments. Yes – there are 100% (without a doubt) recruiters out there that will promise you the sun, and the moon and the stars and may even actually deliver pure gold on that first assignment (as a way to reel you in) – but as with any profession – more experience brings more prestige – more prestige brings more choices - and the same holds for travel nurses.
The more flexible you are, the more assignments you’ll get on the regular, the more experience you’ll earn and the more opportunities you'll have further down the line.
3. Choose a Comfortable Location
As a new traveler about to embark on your first assignment it can be daunting to pick-up and move to a location you’ve never been to before. With all the “firsts,” location doesn’t have to be one of them.
Choose a city or a town you’ve been to before, or where you have some friends or family. The familiarity of a landscape or a smiling face will help calm any nerves you may experience as a first-time traveler.
4. Don’t Take it Personal
As an experienced nurse, you have enough stress in your life as it is. The work is fast-paced and high-stakes so don’t add to your stress by taking personally what a patient, or their family member say to you in a time of distress.
Remember your patients and their families are most likely going through a hard time and are likely not on their best behavior. Always stay professional and speak to your supervisor about any questionable interactions. They’ll provide you with the feedback you need to move forward. And let those comments roll off you like butter on a hot bun, go home, run a bath, put on some soothing music, and relax. Nine times out of ten, it’s never about you.
5. Take a Test Drive
Yes, we do mean actually get in your car – but instead of test-driving that brand new BMW you’ve had your eye on, we’re asking you to test-drive the life that will get you that brand new BMW.
Before the first day of your first assignment – wake up and get ready at the same you would if you were heading into work. Leave your house at the time you think would be appropriate to get to work on time, figure out where you should park at your new location and determine the best route to get to your floor.
Hospitals can often be big convoluted mazes of endless hallways and secret elevators - so don’t let these little stresses impact your first day. Determine the best route to get to your floor – and calculate whether or not you’ll need more or less time to arrive on-time your first day. You can even make that Starbucks run while you’re at it. :)
6. Arrive Early
It’s true what they say: you never get a second chance to make a first impression. And the last impression you want to make, as you’re embarking on this awesome new journey, is someone who didn’t think it was important enough to show up on time. Aside from that – there’s a ton of stress associated with a new assignment: new people, new procedures, new patients, new …well…everything! So don’t add to this stress by stressing about the time and make sure to give yourself so much time – that you actually arrive early.
7. Keep Your Furry Best-Friend(s) Happy
Remember up above when we said successful travel nurses are nurses who are organized (paperwork/licensure/etc.)? The same goes for any pets you may have. Are they up to date on their shots, immunizations, health check-ups? Make sure these things are in order before you embark on that first assignment. And if you’re taking your pet(s) with you on assignment – make sure to do a little research beforehand on best pet sitters available, as well as what vet you’ll use in the event your furry love-bug needs to see a doc before your assignment is over.
You can utilize petsitter.com or rover.com to find a pet sitter in your new area. These sites come with trusted reviews from folks who’ve had their animals taken care of.
8. Don’t Drown in the Details
There are a few details you’ll want to be mindful of when taking on a new assignment. Namely: what’s going to happen to your mail? Bills? Deliveries? (Make sure to remember things like amazon subscriptions, magazines, meal-deliveries, car registration, etc.) What about your utilities (electricity, WIFI, water)?
In today’s day and age of modern technology, it’s now super easy to make all your arrangements electronically. From automatic payments on your bills via your banking institution, to setting up online payments with all your credit cards, utilities, student loan people, etc., it’s all pretty simple, just a little time consuming to get set up the first time.
Make a list of what you need to take care of beforehand and set some time aside to tackle these important “to-dos” before you take off on your first assignment.
9. Pack Light
The key thing to remember when packing is that you’ll only be gone for 13-weeks, not 13 years. So think about what you can and cannot live without. It’s very possible you won’t need to pack every single pair of shoes you own, or that flat screen TV. Think about what you’ll actually use during your time-away and what you can get by without.
Perhaps your iPad will suffice for your Netflix binging, but you definitely want those 4,000-count Egyptian sheets. Totally ok. Maybe you’ll won’t need to pack the Louis Vuitton heels – but definitely need that 7th pair of Vans sneakers. Totally ok.
Whether you’re flying or driving to your new location – the less you bring the less you’ll have to worry about. Just decide where in the sand you can draw the line to get to happy.
10. Plan Your Housing
This one should be pretty obvious, unless your new assignment comes with housing – which is possible. If not – continue reading: What’s important to you? Do you want to live in the center of town, or far away from all the action? Do you want roommates to pocket a little of your travel reimbursement – or are privacy and solitude more important? Do you want something that’s super, modern and fancy or are you ok with rustic and charming? Do you have pets and is your new spot accommodating, or no? These are all things you’ll want to consider when making a decision on where you’ll call home for the next 13-weeks.
11. Do Your Own Research
We know we are a travel nurse agency, but we do actually encourage our nurses to go out there and do a little independent research on the best travel nurse agencies to work with. Think about where you want to work, what kind of money you want to make, and what sorts of assignments you’d like to get. And ask other travel nurses what they think about travelling and who the best companies to work with are.
12. Ask Other Travel Nurses
You of course have a million questions about travel nursing. What are the best pay rates for a hospital in Louisiana? Best resources for finding furnished housing? Best questions to ask a travel nurse recruiter? One of the best ways to get answers to these questions is to simply ask another travel nurse. And in this day and age – it’s never been so easier.
Two great places to check out are The Gypsy Nurse on Facebook and the Travel Nurse Forum at allnurses.com.
13. Take Advantage of Your Newbie Status
This is your first assignment on a new floor, in a new hospital with brand new people. Not only is everything you’re dealing with new – but the experience itself is new so you don’t have a routine set yet.
You’ll want to have as much of an understanding of your new environment as possible, so make sure to ask as many questions as you can before your first day arrives. Some questions you can ask: What are the dynamics of the floor I’ll be working on? What should I know about the people I’ll be working with? What politics should I be aware of?
14. Don’t Be Afraid to Show Off