As a nurse, you have so many job opportunities at your fingertips. However, many components make up the full travel nursing experience. Fortunately, transitioning to travel nursing is easier when you do your homework. If you’re considering travel nursing, here are six things to think about before taking off.
Your Career Goals
What do you want to gain from being a traveling nurse? Increased income is a common reason nurses decide to make the switch and start traveling. However, your goal may also be to work your way up through the nursing ranks and one day be the head of your department. Or do you want the opportunity to grow your skillset? Knowing what you want to achieve will make it easier to decide when and where you travel and if you wish to work within the same hospital system for a longer or shorter period.
The Contract Terms
It is crucial to review your contract thoroughly and ask questions about anything you don’t understand before signing it. Go over it with a fine-toothed comb and ensure that everything you’ve asked for has been honored, like guaranteed hours and requested days off. Ask your advocate to fix or explain clauses you are concerned about because once you sign your contract, you agree to all of its conditions and policies.
Going from a staff nurse to a travel nurse career is a totally different ball game. Most facilities require travel nurses to have at least 18 months of experience, depending on the facility, region, and specialty. Your flexibility will also be a factor in your readiness for travel nursing. If you know experienced travelers, talk with them to gain nuggets of information you won’t find in a quick Google search. Some areas are very competitive, so although you can never know 100% of what to expect as a travel nurse, you will be able to prepare for some of it.
Provided Nurse Housing Vs. Housing Stipend
Before choosing your lodgings, you need to understand the difference between provided nurse housing and a housing stipend. A housing stipend is a sum of money an agency provides to a travel nurse to cover the housing costs while the nurse works their assignment. When a travel nurse receives housing provided by their travel agency, it goes in the agency’s name and ultimately comes out of the nurse’s pay package. Although provided nurse housing is recommended for new travelers, do your research and see which option is best for you.Although Nurse First doesn’t provide housing, we have resources to great options and provide housing, meals, and incidental stipends within the GSA guidelines.
Every facility is different and runs with different procedures and unspoken rules. If you come on board thinking your ways are best, it will not only be difficult to really do your job, but you will annoy your coworkers too. As you are only temporary, it is important to adapt to the flow of the facility and assist as best you can. Travel nursing will test your limits sometimes, but you have the power to run it or let it run you.
Your New Location
Before you take off to your new area of residence, research the location to know what to expect—and if it is somewhere you actually want to go. Look up the weather patterns and average temperatures as well as the price of food, entertainment, and whatever else you may need to budget for your trip. It will allow you to add realistic expectations to your bucket list of places to eat and where you want to explore.
Researching your new location will also affect how you pack as well. As you should pack light, you might want to bring a few heavy-duty garments if you know it will get cold during your stay. If you want to know more about what to bring on an assignment, read this blog.
Travel nursing is a great experience and opens up tremendous opportunities for you and your career. If you want to make the change and start your travel nursing journey, visit Nurse First to get started!