Helpful Tips for the Nurse Traveler

  1. 23
    Hey there all, I just wanted to post a general thread about the basics of travel nursing for all those people who want to consider it. I know I asked a lot of questions when I was considering traveling and I see that a lot of others are too - I think this thread will be helpful to all those who might want to consider travel nursing full time.

    First, if you are interesting in travel nursing, why are you considering it?? What reasons are the most important to you?? For me, I want to see the country and have some adventures. Pay is not as important to me, but it is still important. Having figured out what you want out of travel nursing, you can begin to interview companies to see which one can best give you what you want. There are A LOT of companies out there, just see some of the other posts here asking for information on them!!

    Once you decide on a company, you will (of course) have a lot of paperwork to fill out before you get to your first assignment. In deciding on a company, be sure to evaluate the recruiter you are assigned to - they can make or break your experience with this company, and you will be working with them closely to determine which assignments will be best for you... Make sure that your recruiter is someone that you want to work with.

    After you get all the paperwork filled out, your recruiter will submit a packet with your information to several hospitals in the area that you want to work in. You will have to interview with the managers of the individual units to determine if you are a good fit for their unit, and if they are a good fit for your previous work experience. The hospital will probably give you a week of orientation, although this varies from hospital to hospital. Since you will be expected to hit the floor running, they expect you to know what you are doing before you ever get there.
    nm17, ERRNinMI, CCL RN, and 20 others like this.

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  2. 114 Comments...

  3. 31

    Once you and the hospital decide that you are going to work there, you will talk to your recruiter about pay rate, any extra compensation (ie for travel, getting your license in that state, etc) and finalize your contract. You will sign it and be off!!

    The company should pay for an apartment and basic housing package for you - be sure to ask if this includes a television as this may or may not be included. You should pack linens, kitchen items, scrubs, alarm clock, copies of all papers that might be needed for this assignment.....hobby items, reminders of home etc.

    A contract can last as short a period as 4 weeks and as long as 13-26 weeks. The standard seems to be 13 weeks, but keep in mind that the hospital may ask you to renew for up to 1 year before you should consider becoming staff or moving on to another assignment.

    One thing that has helped me - BEING ORGANIZED!!! I have to keep my things in order so that I can find them quickly both at the hospital and at home.

    When you are orienting, remember to be flexible, give yourself time to adjust, be kind to the staff....

    Hope that helps all you out there who might be considering travel nursing.

    Those who are already traveling, please help me fill in any gaps I might have left out, or tips that you have gathered in your time out there.

    PLEASE KEEP RECRUITER INFORMATION OFF THIS THREAD OR IT WILL BE TAKEN AWAY. This website prohibits users from posting recruiter information!
    Last edit by Diary/Dairy on Jul 30, '07 : Reason: update.
    Sunshine,R.N., ERRNinMI, CCL RN, and 28 others like this.
  4. 15
    Absolutely Awesome Thread!!!! Thank you soooooo much!

    If I may add to your thoughts:

    If you are considering traveling, Please give yourself 1 FULL year of experience in your area of specialty before your pack your bags. You need to be comfortable at 'home' before you're comfortable away!

    Some agencies pay for special certifications like ACLS, PALS, TNCC, etc. Some do not. Check out your agencies' policy before you sign up for the $200 class!

    A traveler's customers are not only the client/patients. The institution that you're working in is a customer, too.

    All good things must end. So that wonderful place you've been at might be replaced by an absolutely horrible assignment. But remember....All bad things must end too!

    Hope this helps!
    THRN88, NurseBenny, mom35, and 12 others like this.
  5. 14
    For those considering travel nursing and have read this thread, please let us know if this thread is helpful to you in considering travel nursing. If there is anything we can add that would be of use to you, please Post your question - the aim is for this thread to be as useful as possible to those who want to be travel nurses.
    Cougar1113, beaujacques, autumn22, and 11 others like this.
  6. 9
    I forgot to add the 2 books that I have read about travel nursing.

    Hitting the Road, by Shalon Kearney, some out-dated material, but VERY good.

    Highway Hypodermics by Epstein LaRue.

    If you are interested and wanted to do some additional research, those are some resources.
    lcfrrl, brillohead, ERRNinMI, and 6 others like this.
  7. 2
    awsome thread, i hope to be able to travel one day
    mikinklr and Diary/Dairy like this.
  8. 14
    Good thread! From the voice of experience I'll add a few:
    Make sure you have enough money in the bank to cover unexpected emergencies before you leave home (enough to cover major car repair, or to get you home if your contract gets cancelled after you drive across country).
    Get road assistance service (AAA has saved me several times)
    You need to be somewhat outgoing to enjoy yourself in new places - introduce yourself to the neighbors, ask co-workers what is interesting in the area - and invite them to join you. Also learn to do things alone - you may surprise yourself and enjoy it.
    Try something new every place you go - whether it be new cuisine, a new activity, etc.
    At work, don't be afraid to ask questions. It actually can break the ice with staff nurses if you admit you don't know everything (not talking the basics here, but say I've never used that model of pump before, or I'm not familiar with that procedure, can you explain it to me?).
    Also at work, never talk about your pay rate, etc. If you are making more than others it sets up bad feelings and makes staff tend to dump on the traveler ("After all, that's what they get the big bucks for"). Or you may find you are making less than someone else and feel bad yourself - not realizing the benefits may not be equivalent. My standard answers when aked about pay are "It differs with each contract" or "Less than most people think - the agency gets the big bucks".
    I can think of lots more after 11 years of traveling, but I'll end it here for now.
    nitengale166, beaujacques, ERRNinMI, and 11 others like this.
  9. 7
    Another area of interest.

    Reimbursement for traveling expenses: Most companies have a reimbursement system, and will pay you a set amount (ie, 30 cents per mile, with a maximum reimbursement of $300, for example) to get from your home to your destination and then again from your destination to your home again.

    If you choose not to take company housing, the company will probably give you a housing stipend....Some people have considered getting an RV and using the housing stipend to cover expenses related to that. I am currently staying with my sister and helping her with the rent.
  10. 6
    From what I can gather by interviewing recruiters and travelers, being w/ several agencies, and reading, I believe the recruiters are more important than the agencies for the most part. When I first started traveling, pay was the most important thing for me. Now it is secondary, and location takes precedence. I would recommend getting at least two years of experience; there are some exceptional nurses that fare pretty well w/ one year though. Be open minded, and there are more than one way to do things.
    rkrs6673, medsurgrnco, niqipiqi, and 3 others like this.
  11. 0
    This is the first time I heard about travel nursing!!!! Actually I love travelling and I do hope to visit other countries while working! But I really like the idea of travel nursing! Seems hard and expensive to me! I hope I can be one someday!

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