When it comes to travel nursing – what do travel nurses care most about? You may say to yourself, that’s easy John, travel nurses want to get the highest pay rate possible, end of story.
But let me ask: would you be willing to work absolutely any job, under any conditions, so long as you were earning top dollar? For most nurses – the answer is no. While getting paid a good wage, the highest wage possible, is absolutely important, some other factors play a significant role in the assignments travel nurses choose.
As travel nurses ourselves, we’re here to shed some light on what travel nurses care most about, and how we go about ensuring they get what they need.
Nurse to Patient Ratios: One of the absolute worst parts of being a travel nurse is working in a hospital with crappy, unsafe nurse to patient ratios. It takes an already high stress environment and makes it more high stress given the fact that a nurse is sometimes tasked with keeping too many patients alive at one time.
At Next Move: We always make sure our hospitals are clear about the nurse to patient ratios and communicate that to our travelers.
Nursing Schedules: A good schedule makes every nurse happy and many nurses prefer block scheduling, especially for the night shift. Nurses will want to know if block scheduling is available, along with what the weekend requirements are.
At Next Move: We're always clear about what the scheduling requirements are. Not all hospitals offer block scheduling, and if not, we'll be pretty damn transparent about that along with whether or not there is a weekend or on-call requirement.
Float Requirements: ICU nurses in particular face the problem of being asked to float to basically every department under the premise that “they should be trained to handle anything”. The problem is an ICU nurse is an ICU nurse for a reason, and they strongly dislike working floor/step and down/tele. Many nurses will turn down a contract point blank if there are requirements to float to any other departments other than the ICU or PCU.
At Next Move: We always ask our hospitals what the float requirements are - and communicate that clearly to our nurses, allowing them to decide for themselves whether or not they want to pursue that opportunity. Sometimes the pay is high enough to cover the lack of desirability, and sometimes it's not.
Onboarding: Travel nurses don’t appreciate being asked to go through an extremely long onboarding process, especially one in which they don’t get paid for. They'd rather skip the weeks of hospital required online tests or at minimum, be reimbursed for their time.
At Next Move: We work with our hospitals to see if the burden of on-boarding can be lessoned a little - and communicate those requirements very clearly to each of our nurses.
Housing: Experienced travel nurses know that the larger cities have a ton of places to rent short-term, and the smaller cities do not. If a hospital is located in a remote location – nurse's prefer hospital provided housing as opposed to spending 4 months in a hotel room.
At Next Move: We don't hide the reality of housing in rural areas from our nurses, especially if there is no hospital provided housing. We make it crystal clear that in all likelihood staying at a long-term hotel for the length of the contract will be necessary.
Communicating During the Interview Process: Nurses want to be communicated with every step of the way. They put a lot of time and effort into applying for each position, so knowing what the process is from the get-go is huge. Did they get the interview? If so, when will they hear back from the hospital? If an offer is not made, why not?
At Next Move: We basically never sleep. Kidding. Sort of. But as a small agency, we can't afford to lose a nurse due to "lack of communication" so 9 times out of 10 you'll have our personal cell phone numbers and we'll be answering those calls and texts at any time of day or not and communicating with you every step of the way before, during and after your assignment(s).
Cancellation Policy: No travel nurse wants to make all the arrangements to be away from home for 4 months, only to find out 4 days later that their contract has been cancelled. They want to know exactly what the cancellation policy is, and how often it occurs.
At Next Move: If a hospital does not offer reimbursement for a cancelled contract, we try to convince them to change that policy, and if we are unsuccessful, we communicate the risk the nurse will need to take in accepting an offer with no cancellation policy. It's not super common for a contract to be cancelled - but it does happen now and again.
When it comes to working with hospitals to pull together the parameters for hiring a travel nurse we ask them to consider all of the above, even if it means changing things from a corporate standpoint. Things we ask include:
Do travel nurses really need a full 2-week onboarding, or can you create an abbreviated version?
Is it possible to put minimum float requirements, maximum nurse to patient ratios, guaranteed hours, block scheduling, and hospital provided housing into future travel nurse contracts?
Can you work with HR to create a streamlined communication process for travel nurses?
All of these things help our hospitals secure those experienced, elite travel nurses they're seeking and help our travelers find those premier contracts where every detail is taken care of.
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