8 Questions You Need to Answer Before Accepting a Travel Nursing Assignment

Finding a new location for your travel nursing assignment can be exciting. But it is important to know what you’re getting yourself into. There is a level of uncertainty that can come with a new job, so it is important to be as prepared as you possibly can. To make sure you choose an assignment you’ll love, here are eight questions that need to be answered before you accept.

Ques 1: What is the nurse-to-patient ratio?

Knowing the ratio of patients to each nurse is important to understand if the workload will be manageable for you. Different units and hospitals, in general, will have different expectations about how many patients you can take care of at a time. Getting this question answered will let you know if that specific hospital operates on a ratio that you are accustomed to before you decide to commit.

Ques 2: What patients will be on your floor?

In addition to the ratio, knowing what patients will be on your floor can help you become familiar with the unit and what they typically see. For instance, you could be working on an orthopedic nursing floor, but that unit could also admit overflow surgical post-operative patients in addition to orthopedic patients. Also, knowing the type of patients you’ll be dealing with will help ensure that you are qualified and ready to take on the role. 

Ques 3: What is the floating policy?

The idea of floating can make some travelers nervous, and that may include you. When you ask upfront about your unit’s floating policy, you will have some idea about how it works. Your hospital should only float you to units where you have experience, but it is always a good idea to ask and make sure you won’t be caught off guard on your first day. When the time comes, you will have an understanding of the next steps. You should also ask if the facility floats travelers first before permanent staff and how that works. 

Ques 4: How is the scheduling done?

Scheduling is a big deal and should be handled with care. While you may not be able to pick a specific shift, you can get an idea of whether you’ll be working nights or days, weekends, or a cluster of days. There are a variety of combinations when it comes to your schedule, so don’t be shy to ask for what you want. Many facilities will advertise a specific shift in their job post, but they may be open to alternative shifts during the interview process. Also, remember to ask about the scheduling around holidays (you could be asked to work some holidays, but not all).

Ques 5: What kind of orientation is offered?

The orientation for your travel assignment can last from a few days to a few weeks (normally it only lasts for three to four days, but every location is different). The first week or so could include orientation for the whole hospital or just unit-specific training. You could also receive minimal training and could be expected to hit the ground running when you come on board, which can be challenging for travelers with limited experience. Be sure to also ask if orientation is offered during day or night shifts as well.

Ques 6: What is required on the first day?

This is a good question for your recruiter because knowing what you will need to accomplish on your first day will help you be better prepared. Your recruiter should be able to provide specifics such as when and where to show up, whether or not specific colors of scrubs are required, and who to contact for better information. You should also be told about additional documentation you may need to bring with you on your first day.

Ques 7: Is overtime an option?

As a travel nurse, your hours may not be guaranteed, depending on if you’re working at a hospital, care facility, or someone’s home. Since you may not have a set number of hours, it is imperative that you always ask what is available in terms of overtime. Expressing your willingness to take on extra shifts can motivate your manager to find you what you’re looking for.

Ques 8: Will parking be provided?

Different locations will have different protocols when it comes to parking. It is important to know what the parking situation is in advance, as off-site parking can add more time to a daily commute. Some facilities charge fees to park in employee lots, while others offer shuttles to and from lots that are further away from the hospital. As trivial as it may sound, the parking situation can be an incentive or deterrent for accepting a travel assignment, so be sure to check it out.

There are so many exciting possibilities when accepting a new travel assignment. Before starting, it’s important to ask specific questions and have a good idea of what to expect.

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