I am finishing my first assignment--in fact, I have 10 days left and wanted to offer some advice to those considering traveling.
1) When you interview for a new assignment, assess the interviewer as they should be of you. When I was interviewed for my current assignment it did not seem like a professional interview. I can't remember at any time in my 10 years in nursing where I felt the interviewer did not ask me pertinent questions. She initiated the conversation by asking if I had any questions. I should have sensed or gone with my gut that this was probably not the best choice for my first assignment. However I was anxious to find an assignment, so I took the first thing that was offered.
2) Make sure you are clear about floating and what the hospital defines floating as. I learned very quickly that this hospital system (that includes 2 hospitals which are 13 miles apart) would float you any time to the other hospital. And this can happen very frequently if you do not put your foot down or have your company intervene. Make it very clear in your contract and during the interview. If the interviewer is wishy-washy on this subject take it as a sign that this is not good.
3) Make sure you are clear when you can pick up your keys for your apartment and call several times to remind the apt manager. I learned the hard way when I first got here and was locked out of the apartment even though I had arranged for the apt manager to leave the apt keys in the apartement. I had to go to Baltimore to get my license and then go to the hospital for pre-employment drug tests and then go to the apartment. I could not get there before 5pm and the offices were closed. I had to find a smoke free hotel room all the while hoping that I could move in the next day to the apartment. This was not an easy task since it was a Friday evening in the middle of August on the eastern shore. Many vacationers on their way to the beach had reserved rooms at the better hotels in the area. Anyway don't assume anything--don't assume that 1 phone call is enough to confirm arrangements. It was not enough in my experience.
4) Don't take a longer assignment than normal so you are off for the holidays for your 1st assignment. I did--I signed for 14 weeks instead of 13. It has seemed like an eternity and I wish it was over this week. Unfortunately I have another week.
5) Take care of yourself. I know many travelers bring their families but I did not. It can become lonely on the road esp if you become sick. I got the stomach flu last week and was very depressed over my situation of being alone in a strange area and sick. I also felt guilty and helpless about letting the hospital/company down when I was sick and unable to work.
Lastly for many nurses traveling can be very rewarding. However there is always something lacking in an organization that depends so much on traveling staff.
This experience has put money in my bank account but I can honestly say I have not gained much else except for knowledge about bad traveling assignments. I was impulsive in taking this assignment and a little naive. I was familiar with this hospital since I had worked for a short time at one of their hospitals 5 years ago. I let this familiarity sway my decision. Unfortunately I did not realize how much things had changed and not for the better. I just hope others can learn from my experience. What I have to look forward to is returning home and starting a new job in a new specialty for excellent pay. Although the pay not be as much as traveling, I think the other perks of being home outweighs the other benefits of traveling. Traveling is not for everyone and maybe it is not the right thing for me at this time.
Good luck to all new travelers!
Excellent posts all around. ((((((((((margnurse))))))), I 'm very sorry you had such a bad experience your first time out. But I must fault your agency for a lot of this. As a new traveler it was their job to help you with being ready for your interview. Most of the time the phone interview is a causal one. And I usually can get a feel for what is what when I talk to that person.
Sometimes you can't, as they can be pretty good at giving great snow jobs. And yes Zoe was correct, your agency should have after a call from you about the apt. not being available to you, should have called around while you went and got yourself a cup or coffee, or a bite to eat. Found you a hotel, paid for it or reimburesed you for the cost, and for your food!
The agency I work for recently did this for a traveler, after the person who made the travel arrangements quit, and told them they had taken care of everything. Well the traveler ended up staying in hotel just a block from the hospital, with all the amenities, and the agency paid for her meals.
I can understand you taking a step back from travel after this experience. But believe me, even with 10yrs of travel experience, I had to learn by trial and error. I'm now going to an assignmnet that I might end up stayiing at. But only because I'm ready to settle down, and put down roots. But if it turns out not to be the place for me, I have no problems with continuing to travel until I do find what I want. Also I have had the apartment manager leave the key in an apartment before with no problem. I think that happened on about 3 assignments at least.
I sincerely wish you all the best in your new position. But if it proves not to be what you want, I would suggest giving travel another chance with a different agency. If I can ever help...please don't hesistate to ask..
Last edit by Brownms46 on Nov 7, '02