Wow! Can’t believe I just finished my first travel nurse contract. In the past 13 weeks I have learned so much not only about travel nursing but myself as well. I wanted to devote a post solely to what I have learned in the past 3 months in hopes that it helps future travelers to things I did not know when starting out.
Food for thought…
Protocols and standards of care are going to be different and some the same from hospital to hospital, but NEVER use the phrase “back at my old hospital we did it like this.” Learn how your new hospital does things and run with it.
If you aren’t flexible in your job then you better learn to be. As a traveler you are first to float, and at some hospitals that doesn’t just mean in hospital floating. Here in San Diego in the NICU, we float quite frequently to what are known as “satellite” hospitals which are step down NICU’s at delivery hospitals that work with the main children’s hospital.
Don’t expect to get the sickest kids. Those will go to core staff or a traveler that has been there awhile and earned the respect of unit.
Always, always take the housing stipend. I chose to do agency housing for this first assignment and while yes, it was nice not having to worry about finding somewhere to live while navigating this new life, you are really missing out on a good chunk of money. There are forums on Facebook such as gypsy nurse housing that you can post on saying where and when your contract is and plenty of people will hit you up with rentals. Even in San Diego with the crazy housing prices, I was able to find a place for my extension that was reasonable and I will still pocket more weekly than prior.
You don’t need to contact agencies a year in advance. Say you want to start traveling beginning of summer 2019, reach out to recruiters in late winter/early spring so they can build your profile by gathering your references and certifications, etc. Until then, do your research on agencies that you may want to contact.
Shining some light on having a recruiter you trust and will work hard to get you what you want. They can make or break your contract, and while yes there are dozens of agencies to work with, it is a hassle to re-do all of your compliance, references, skills checklists and other info with another agency after you’ve already completed it with one company. Talk on the phone with recruiters and get a good judgement if it seems like it will be a good fit. Some agencies will try to take advantage of new travelers so do your research!
You won’t make the same amount of money as another traveler working on the same unit doing the same thing. Everyone’s pay packages are different, that’s just travel nursing for you, hence the importance of the previous point, get yourself a GOOD recruiter who will work to get you a GOOD pay package.
Just have fun with it! Be outgoing, talk to new people, make friends, say yes to week day and weekend outings. Get out of your comfort zone! You will gain the most out of your travel nurse experience by pushing yourself and I promise you will not be disappointed.
Snorkel Kayak tour in La Jolla on a Monday! Love that 3 work days a week life!