Tips and Tricks for Travel Nurses
Make the most of your travel nurse opportunities. Here are a few tips and tricks to assist you.
One of the best tips any travel nurse will give you is to do your homework. Read travel nurse blogs and nursing forums where travelers share their experiences both good and bad.
Another important tip is to understand an assignment fully before you accept it. Ask questions.
Be super organized. Know where all of your documents are and have them up to date.
Have a current resume and a list of all your skills and talents. Be ready to send it as a Word or .pdf attachment to an Email or to FAX it to your recruiter or hospital.
Have copies of your license(s) and lists of all recent CEUs. Know which states are part of the Nurse Licensure Compact. There are 22 states which accept each other’s nursing licenses. Rhode Island has signed the agreement and will implement it in July 2008.
Make a list of states where you would eventually like to travel. If they are not member of the Nurse Licensure Compact, know how to contact the state’s board of nursing to obtain a nursing license if needed.
Keep all licenses up to date. Let the ones you don’t intend to use again become inactive.
Have an open mind and be flexible about assignments. Some agencies refuse to let nurses be too picky about which units they will or will not work. However, make your career goals known to your recruiter.
Take care not to burn bridges. The health care world is small and mobile. You never know when you may cross paths with someone again.
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always read the small print and ask questions. Never make assumptions.
Be professional at all times; even when you’re not on duty.
Accept responsibility for any mistakes you make, learn from them and move forward.
Be careful how you word and share any bad experiences. State facts, not opinions. If you had a bad experience, say simply that you “would not recommend” an agency, hospital, unit etc. If someone wants details, do it privately over the phone.
If you have to get out of an assignment, discuss it with your recruiter and agency first. Give them as much notice as possible. If there’s a problem that they can try to fix, let them try.
Life happens and there may be a time when you have to get out or refuse an assignment last minute, but be sure your situation is legitimate. And make it be a rare occurrence.
Express your goals and needs in writing to your recruiter so that there is not a possibility of errors. When they change, update your recruiter. Important things to include would be who travels with you (family, friends, pets), any special needs you have such as handicapped access, close in parking, security arrangements, etc.
Travel nursing can be an exciting career option. Make the most of your experiences. Be organized, prepared and professional.
By Kathy Quan RN BSN
Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book, and author/owner of TheNursingSite.com.