Traveling to Find a Good Fit for Permanent Unit?

  1. Hi travelers! I've been browsing the forum, and haven't seen any topics addressing this question.

    I'm a NICU nurse with a few years experience on a couple of different units, and I've been thinking about traveling. I'm young, unattached, and have no major life commitments in any given location. I'm trying to figure out what geographic region and specific hospital system might be a good fit for me in the long term.

    While I love NICU nursing, I've found that each of my units has had systemic problems that I didn't discover until I was on the floor. I'm curious to know if travel nursing would be a good way to test out cities and specific units before committing long-term. By working as a traveler, you'd get a much more thorough 'insider perspective' than simply shadowing for a few hours. It seems like the perfect scenario: units that hire travelers are short-staffed, so it seems like it would be easy to stay on permanently if you make a good impression.

    Has anyone done this, and how did it work out? Does it seem like a feasible plan, or is it too much hassle to achieve the end goal? Thanks!
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  2. 2 Comments

  3. by   NedRN
    Yes, that is a fun way to find a good unit. Mind you, there are a couple of drawbacks. For one, excepting perhaps California with their staffing ratio laws or union hospitals, the hospitals that hire travelers really need them. Which sometimes means a non optimal culture if they cannot stay fully staffed (versus temporary leave). A possible second drawback is that most NICUs will not let travelers take the highest acuity, no matter how good you are on paper. Eventually you may be able to win their trust, particularly if you are generous with assisting staff with their own assignments. That matters only to some of course, you may enjoy the vacation if you are used to level 4. Count on level 2 and 3 assignments only and you won't be disappointed.

    Travel is great, but you really want to be able to enjoy the constant moving to new locations, dealing with housing and recruiters, integrating with new staff, learning new charting software, and getting used to the local culture and the hospital culture. If you don't think that is up your alley, don't do it to find a new job. A perfect job is a unicorn. Doesn't exist unless you wear rose colored sunglasses. You might think you have found heaven, and then the managers move on annually, and you will hate the change. Or a strong personality is hired, also affecting the work environment.

    A tip for your search, great units can exist in a hospital that is badly managed with poor morale everywhere else, but they are rare. You are much more likely to find a good unit in a great hospital.

    Also, when I mentioned the hospitals that hire travelers really need them, it can sometimes take until the end of the assignment to find out why - exactly what the systemic issue might be. Depends on how tuned in you are of course. I'm also surprised by places that are actually good places to work, but the nurses are unhappy - no good reason - they just don't like to work. Weird stuff happens. I hope it works out and you find your unicorn. I will repeat that it is unlikely (does happen) but the place you settle is much more likely to be where you find a relationship. Not being chauvinist here, works that way for men too.

    Travel to have fun first, and don't look too hard for a good workplace or significant other. They will come if you are enjoying life.
  4. by   adventure_rn
    Ned, we are so lucky to have you on this forum. Thank you so much for sharing your insights!!

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