Decided to dive into the world of travel nursing? Awesome! In this travel nursing guide, we’ll explore what steps you should take to become a travel nurse and explain some of the lingo and practices in the industry.
The first step to becoming a travel nurse is finding an agency that works for you, literally. An agency is meant to be your wingman. Sign up with an agency you feel comfortable with, one that will be there for you when things get tough, and one that understands you. After all, they are the ones giving out the recommendations. Once you have a few agencies in mind, turn the tables and interview them to see if they have what it takes.
Now getting down to brass tacks, ask about their termination clause. Know what their conditions and penalties are for terminating a contract. A situation may arise when you least expect it, and the best way to protect yourself and your license is to know how to cancel a contract. Better safe than sorry!
Another great question to ask is how they allocate their travel nurse pay package. This will give you an idea of how the agency invests in your benefits, utilities, and wages. A concentration in benefits and utilities may get in the way of possible raises. And before you think about going local for a fatter travel nurse paycheck, ask about radius rules. In order to protect themselves from losing their permanent staff to travel contracts, hospitals follow radius rules.
Once you find an agency you are comfortable with, know that it will take some time before you start working. It generally takes a few weeks for an agency to match you with an assignment. But when you do get that call about an offer, prepare for things to pick up pretty quickly. Offers are usually followed up with a phone interview a few weeks prior to the start date. This allows time to process the drug screening, background check, and the usual paperwork. For a better idea of the timeline and the process, ask your new recruiter for details.
Some assignments may require you to work in different departments as needed. This position is known as a floater. It’s a great way to gain some experience. But, whether you have 2 or 25 years of experience, we recommend that you take a floating assignment on your first or second travel nursing job. You don’t want to get too overwhelmed on the first job.
Finally, just as we discussed having an exit strategy prepared in case of any less than ideal nursing job situations, keep in mind that the facility you’re working for can do the same. This is not a frequent scenario, but it can happen. Don’t take it personally. If you can, learn why it was canceled so you can move forward and plan out your next move with your recruiter.
Just like any new job, the first week is filled with a bit of anxiety, a dash of excitement, irrational fears, and the usual introductions. Assignments usually begin with an informational packet with all the details you need to know before you walk into the door. Read it and reread it to ensure the smoothest transition. The best way to get to know the inner workings of your new facility is to ask questions! It’s the best way to get to know your new environment and to stay ahead of the learning curve.
Once you find your groove, do some research on the area and compile a list of things to do and see. Pick your co-workers’ brains as they’ll no more about the area. Check the town’s webpage and social media sites for the latest events. Meetup.com is a great way to get together with people with similar interests, and quite possibly with other travel nurses. Take advantage of the perks of being a travel nurse. Treat it as a vacation because down the road you may be matched with an assignment in an area that’s not your ideal location. Make the best of it and apply these tips, you may just be pleasantly surprised.
Want more tips on how to get started as a travel nurse? We have plenty of resources for you on our website! You can also check out our nurse recruiter video to help you start traveling!