Choosing the Right First Assignment

Specialties Travel


  1. Which should I choose?

    • 3
      PACU in Minnesota
    • 6
      Tiny ICU in Oregon

9 members have participated

Hey all:

I am looking for advice on choosing the correct job for my first travel assignment.

About me: 2.5 years ICU experience at trauma 1 centers (250 bed and 650 bed facilities); mixed ICU and STICU


--> PACU in Minnesota at a well-ranked hospital, but I have never worked PACU. They want ICU nurses because they are transitioning to an overnight obs model for complicated surgeries and need ICU peeps to watch them and then discharge after 24 hours.

--> ICU in a SMALL city in Oregon with 4 beds in the ICU.

I am unsure which will give me the best first assignment to continue traveling and add to my resume. Thank you so much!

Tough choice. Both should be easy assignments for you, perhaps even boring. Easy is great for a first assignment. I'd look for other differentiators. For example, location, culture, or perhaps experiencing small city life for the first time. Personal interests? Oregon might be better for hiking than Minnesota. Minnesota has better lake canoeing. Winter sports? That can be an eastern versus western Oregon versus Minnesota thing, or downhill (something) versus cross country skiing.

Thank you so much for your response! I think you're right, easy for the first assignment is not a bad thing! Thank you for you guidance!

Hell Jamiemoney88,

NedRn is correct that you should try to find an assignment that would be easy for your first one to get your feet wet and get a total feel for traveling. For MN if it is at the BigFork facility or thorough that health system they treat travelers very well and I've heard nothing, but wonderful things from travelers that I have sent up there. As for OR I've never had anyone work there so I'm not too sure about that one. However, there are a few facebook groups dedicated to travelers where nurses rate hospitals/facilities so you can take a look and see the pros/cons of each. Best of luck to you!

Specializes in ICU, and IR.

If it were me I would go with the actual ICU assignment. Sometimes recruiters will look at your last assignment and try to fit a round peg in a square whole. In others words if they aren't great listeners they may attempt to just use your resume as a guide to what you like which may influence future assignments. Also if you want ICU down the road you would still be considered a new traveler since you haven't completed an ICU assignment yet. ICU can do PACU but not always the other way around. Once your resume is filled with mostly ICU then look at a PACU job then its just an easy little break for you. Also if PACU is slow you get sent home (no pay) if ICU is slow you get floated and still get paid as long as you have guaranteed hours in your contract (make sure that you do). Starting out its hard to have extra in the savings acount, later when that situation is better you can take more risk with regard to being cancelled. I am making a guess at your financial situation based on how mine was starting out but you may be different. Just letting you know how it works.

Just to point out that her experience is 100% ICU. Taking one PACU assignment, particularly one that specifically wants ICU nurses, will not hurt her resume. Also, having a good recruiter is key, especially for new travelers. Listening to your recruiter is a good thing but your post implies that somehow recruiters will direct the specialty of your next assignment. I think anyone interested in travel will be smarter and more assertive than that. Although I have heard stories!

Large hospitals have very predictable surgery schedules. Not much to fear there. On the other hand, travelers in small town ICUs will be floated or called off. Either way, your contract should limit permissible call offs. Those limits are increasing being specified in contracts. One of the (maybe few) benefits of vendor manager proliferation.

Sorry to be so contrary but I liked the rest of your post as I do most of your good posts here.

Specializes in ICU, and IR.

It didn't use to be that way but I feel more and more I am seeing travelers on the FB groups in PACU say they are being cancelled repetitively and not getting paid. Not sure if this is a contract issue or some other problem but I haven't noticed it so much with ICU nurses. I may have misread her post I thought this was a first assignment, didn't notice her experience. I just love my ICU so I am biased.

Definitely a contract problem! My perspective is coming from the OR. If I don't get cancelled, neither does the PACU.

Wherever you'd rather be for 13 weeks.

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