I started doing local contract work after 4 months of "staff experience". 4 months after being licensed. My staff spot was a 12 hour a week spot with benefits.
Local contract is essentially travel without having to change states. I could go home, to a friend's house/stay with family or sometimes I'd stay in a hotel if doing back-to-back shifts for them -- depending.
I think it was fairly easy as I was a bit of a known quantity (this can be for better or worse -- lol). There wasn't any shortage of demand.
Actually, there was a lot of demand. Plently of offers to hire.
I didn't want to hire and I tried to avoid staying anywhere longer than 4-6 weeks, (I did contract with one for 8 + 4, I can't say no sometimes - Arrrgh!) tho I would go fill in an occasional odd day or 2 in OT for a previous place if I was on another contract.
I was doing this for BROAD EXPERIENCE. PART OF A LARGER PLAN.
I was burned a bit in staff spot (I'd been a deluxe unit clerk prior to RN licensure for 16 hrs weekly), so I'd resolved I'd try to never take another one. Leaving staff work behind was heartbreakingly difficult. Once I finally left the area to travel, it was like leaving my family. Never again.
I did local contract for 16 months.
Plus, flying had always been my ultimate end goal, so I tried to find diverse experiences that would help me focus on that goal.
Joined ENA, AACN. Studied, read a LOT. Pre & Post shift. Eat, lived & breathed NURSING
My real mastery of nursing -- EMERGENCY and CRITICAL CARE came in those days of CONTRACT and TRAVEL. I knew how to care for critically ill patients, but putting in into action in different settings is challenging.
Assessment is EVERYTHING.
I took advanced critical care classes, I had ACLS, PALS, NPR, actually I had been instructor in ACLS & PALS for over a decade.
I had certification in Emergency Nursing.
I traveled for 18 months out of state on 4 main contracts in 6 facilities. I was extended on 2 of the 4. Invited to be staff on 1.
The last contact I was on terminated me 2 weeks early and it was such a freaking blessing.
Prolly cost me a few thousand dollars and it was money so well spent -- I can't even recall what the issue was, just nonsense I'm sure. I can't find my Can you say beautiful new facility that's run by an administrative ER director who is not a NURSE and has no clue. In the 11 weeks I was there, 9 staff left (5 nurses, 2 RN clinical leadership, 2 techs) Literally, I expected a portal to hell to show itself any day.
I am not going to say I was comfy, I don't think you will ever know it all, be able to master it all, have seen it all, eat once and for all or, well, you get it.
I was was competent clinically. Part of that is knowing that you don't know it all and knowing where to access help. Ask for help.
You will run into things that you will need help with -- ask. There should be a clinical leader.
Spend time getting to know your computer charting system -- it pays off.
It will make you a better nurse if you embrace it.
Learn all you can. Come out better. Save money.
A NOTE ON EXPERIENCE.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE IT?
I was a medic for years prior. That matters. Confidence wise, I guess
As for nursing -- my staff was 4 months + local contract work was 16 months. But that's misleading.
I think you have to look at hours/units worked in.
I worked over 4100 hours in 16 months. That's well over 2 years of "experience" in 16 months.
It all depends on how you define experience.
I define my experiences as clinically caring for patients. Being a nurse.
Look at facilities very critically.