Building Trust with a Travel Nurse Agency
One of the reasons nurses choose one travel nurse agency over another is because they develop a sense of trust in the agency with which they chose to work. Trust can of course be built by developing a one-on-one relationship with a travel nurse recruiter but if you’re just starting your research on travel nurse agencies – you may not yet feel ready to pick up the phone or send an email to a recruiter. We get that – these decisions take time – and it is a super good idea to do a bunch of research before you decide (or not) to make the switch to travel nursing.
Interviews with Travel Nurses
To help you on your journey we’ve started a series of “Interviews with Travel Nurses” of travel nurses that currently work with Next Move. Through this series you’ll learn first-hand why these nurses made the switch to travel nursing, what their experience has been so far, and tips they have for nurses considering making the leap into travel nursing.
Next Move has a nurse retention rate of over 85% – meaning – 85% of nurses that sign a contract with us, come back to sign another. We’re sure it doesn’t hurt that many of our recruiters are also practicing RNs. Here, you’ll also learn a little about us, how we work, and why our nurses always come back for more.
This week we’d like to introduce you to Rachel D., an ICU-RN with over 4-years of experience who has been travel nursing for Next Move exclusively for the last year.
What inspired you to choose a career in nursing?
Rachel: I’ve always been interested in healthcare. It might sound kinda cheesy but I used to watch the show ER with my mom in the mornings before school and I would always just say: I want to work in a hospital!
I think medicine is always changing and there’s always something to learn. I always wanted to help people and so it was really just a combination of those two things that led me to nursing. It took me a little bit to get here but I’m here, and I honestly couldn’t see myself doing anything different.
What interested you in travel nursing?
Rachel: I started my nursing career at a hospital in North Kansas City in their Neuro/Trauma Surgical ICU. I was there for almost 3 years and started to feel like I had learned everything there was to learn in that role.
I started thinking about travel nursing because I really wanted to gain different experiences. Nursing is just so vast, even within the specialty of critical care and I really wanted those different types of experiences. So, I started my journey by cross-training in the ER and doing a couple of other things to get myself ready and right as I was about to make the jump into travel nursing: covid hit.
Because of a sense of loyalty I felt to my hospital, which had given me so much over the last few years, I stayed onboard. But after about 8-months I decided I had fulfilled my duty to my hospital, and it was time to go learn something new – so I signed up with Next Move as a travel nurse and have never looked back.
Another motivating factor was that there’s more money to be made as a travel nurse and I had student loans I wanted to pay off. But truly – it was the combination of making more money and be able to learn new things. Everywhere you go medicine is practiced just a little bit differently. Different positions. Different specialties. Now, every single day I’m at work I’m learning something new, and that really draws me to travel nursing. I also feel like my nursing abilities have grown as a travel nurse. At the end of the day, I’m just the type of person that likes to learn new things and to be in environments that challenge me.
I also get to meet new people. I’ve been so blessed with really great contracts and I get to work with the most amazing nurses and physicians. That has been a pleasure too, to make new friends everywhere I go.
How did you hear about Next Move Inc.?
Rachel: I used to work with your Chief Clinical Officer, John Heymach, back when he was an RN at a hospital in Kansas City. It was some time in 2019 and I just remember him talking about a travel nurse company he was starting with John Nolan, your CEO. I thought it was interesting an RN was starting a travel nurse company, so my interest was piqued. When things got rolling and everything was set up on the website – I felt ready to give travel nursing a try.
Is there anything Next Move could have done better?
I like Next Move. I like that it’s a local, Kansas City based, travel nurse agency. I’m from Kansas City and I feel like if I ever had a really pressing problem, I could just show up at the Next Move offices and be like “this is what needs to be fixed” and they would fix it. The only drawback that I have is that it’s Midwest based. While I love that because it gives me the ability to take travel nursing assignments that are close to home, I would love if they expanded a bit more East or West. Places like California!*
Note From Next Move: Next Move just recently announced that in addition to staffing for Midwestern states like: Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kentucky we now also staff in Alaska, Arizona, Tennessee & Texas!
Talk to us about your first travel nurse assignment.
Rachel: I first took a local contract near my home in Kansas City, Missouri. I sort of had in mind that it was a bit of an experiment, and I didn’t want to move too far away from home if it turned out that travel nursing wasn’t right for me. I was going from a job I’d been at for years, so I knew every person, policy and procedure and 100% comfortable 100% of the time. And I was trading that in to walk into a brand-new hospital, with brand new people, brand new everything – I was a little nervous.
Would I be successful walking into a completely new environment and still be a good nurse? Can I adapt to people and providers who don’t know me, and still do well? By taking a contract near my home I was able to see if travel nursing was for me, while keeping the comforts of my own home.
I learned a lot at this first assignment and did get my butt handed to me a little bit. This new hospital practiced medicine a lot different than I was used to, with less resources and less staffing. But it really pushed me to put my best foot forward. I couldn’t depend on other people like I was used to. What I learned on this first assignment is that when you first start out at a new hospital, people (of course) don’t really know who you are and aren’t necessarily volunteer help you out. You have to ask for help and figure things out on your own for a little bit. That was really eye opening for me, and I feel like I really excelled at it.
Right now, I’m working at a Level 1 Trauma facility and still getting my butt handed to me because this is the sickest ICU I’ve ever worked in, mostly because of the covid surge we’re seeing in the St. Louis area. But I absolutely love my work and since I just signed another extension, I feel like I’m at the point where people are starting to get to know me and trust my abilities as a nurse. So, I’m starting to get the sicker assignments and people are coming to me to ask for help, which is really nice. I feel trusted and respected.
Sometimes hospitals, and the staff that work at them, do have a negative opinion of travel nurses and if I’m going to be honest here: their feelings aren’t necessarily unvalidated. Sometimes there are “crappy” travelers. I sort of define a “crappy traveler” as someone who knows they’re only at a hospital for a short time and carry that attitude around with them. They don’t seem to care about the hospital, or the staff and they don’t offer to help when help is needed. Staff nurses pick up on that easily, and so they’re weary when a new travel nurse joins the team. But I’d say 3-4 weeks into any assignment I’ve worked at – when staff nurses realize that you do know what you’re doing, that you are willing to be a part of the team – they start to see you not as that “crappy traveler” but as a member of the team. I’ve never had an assignment I didn’t feel welcome at.
It’s also good to keep in mind that travel nursing is different than staff nursing. And it’s different wherever you go. At some places the travel nurses are expected to take the “crappy” assignments like being stuck in the covid unit all the time. Which sucks. But I really feel that when you give it a little bit of time, allow people the chance to know you and your skill set, you’ll start getting assigned better work. There are pros and cons to travel nursing. This would be one of the cons – that it takes time for people to get to know you. Thankfully, for the most part, I’ve been treated really well everywhere I’ve gone.
How has nursing changed over the last year as a result of covid?
Rachel: I think as a result of covid, a lot of nurses have realized that some hospitals treat them as disposable.
If you worked at the beginning of the pandemic, you know that nurses were on the frontlines, more so than any other care provider. I can’t of course say that as a blanket statement because there were some providers that did step up. But for the first few weeks, and months of the pandemic I remember doctors not even going into the rooms of patients’ sick with covid-19.
My personal experience was that I was the one that had to give total patient care to these patients, not the providers. I did the assessments, and those assessments where what ended up in the provider’s notes – a provider that hadn’t even stepped foot into a patient’s room.
It was a really difficult time as there weren’t even any protocols or training in place for how to care for these patients. In addition, it felt like the hospitals treated the doctors as more valuable than anyone else on those floors. Us nurses where the ones that had to expose ourselves to covid, put our lives on the line for our patients, while the providers stood outside those patient rooms and just watched. I even remember coding patients with just me and another nurse in the room, while everyone else stood outside the room and watched. A lot of us got exposed, got sick, and many of us died. Even I got sick from covid – and the hospital I was working for tried to get away without even paying me for my sick time off.
What opened my eyes was seeing that first wave of nurses going to New York to help treat covid patients, and they were being paid $1,000s of dollars a week, doing the same exact work I was doing. Covid really made a lot of nurses stop and ask: why would I continue to work as a staff nurse, when I could do the same work, for more pay as a travel nurse? I think it’s why you’re seeing a nursing shortage right now. Nurses are burnt out – have been overworked and underpaid for far too long and are seeing travel nursing as their golden ticket.
I think as time goes on more and more nurses are going to come to this same realization and start working for travel nurse agencies, and the majority of hospitals are going to have to start using these agencies to staff their hospitals because there’s going to be a major shortage of nurses willing to work for staff nursing pay. It’s sort of like unionizing without a union. Like what you see in California where there’s decent pay and great patient/provider ratios, because those nurses got together and said, “this is what we’re worth and this is what we want.”
As a travel nurse I get to do that: I get to outline my value and say what I’m worth and accept nothing less than that. And if I ever feel like I’m being treated poorly, or I feel like I’m not getting what I deserve, not being respected, don’t feel safe, feel unhappy, I can just leave. And there’s a certain power behind that.
Do you have any advice for a nurse considering traveling for the first time?
I would say: absolutely do it. I feel like people hear “travel nursing” and they feel like they have to leave their home and I felt that too. But you can be a travel nurse and still do it within your own city. Like you can take local contracts. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner and I feel like every travel nurse feels that same way. You know your worth and you know what you should be paid and the only thing stopping you from getting that is just fear and self-doubt!
Got Travel Nursing Questions?
Did we miss anything? Do you still have questions about travel nursing? Give us a call (or shoot us an email) today and one of our dedicated team members would be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Next Move Inc
(816) 601 -3800