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How far ahead to make plans to travel?

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Hi all, I am an RN with over 1 and a half years experience on a med/surg/tele floor; a couple of months ago I changed positions and now work as a staffing pool RN floating all over the hospital, most frequently to Intermediate Care Unit (step-down) and the NICU as well as med/surg floors. I have been wanting to travel nurse for a while and ideally I would like to start travel nursing in January 2016. I've been doing a lot of research into the topic but have a couple questions I hope someone can help me with:

1. How far ahead of time should I start looking for an agency/recruiter/position etc? Would it be worthwhile to start contacting agencies now or are they only looking for people who want to start right away?

2. I am spending all of my time now gaining extra experience/certifications etc. to boost my resume (such as ACLS and TNCC); is there anything else I could be doing to prepare myself to travel/ make myself more marketable?

3. I love my job as a float nurse and I am hoping that having this experience illustrates my flexibility as an RN, but I am wondering if it would hurt my chances at a travel job because I am not currently working on one floor/specialty, any thoughts?

PacoUSA, BSN, RN

Specializes in PCU / Telemetry. Has 9 years experience.

Hi all, I am an RN with over 1 and a half years experience on a med/surg/tele floor; a couple of months ago I changed positions and now work as a staffing pool RN floating all over the hospital, most frequently to Intermediate Care Unit (step-down) and the NICU as well as med/surg floors. I have been wanting to travel nurse for a while and ideally I would like to start travel nursing in January 2016. I've been doing a lot of research into the topic but have a couple questions I hope someone can help me with:

1. How far ahead of time should I start looking for an agency/recruiter/position etc? Would it be worthwhile to start contacting agencies now or are they only looking for people who want to start right away?

2. I am spending all of my time now gaining extra experience/certifications etc. to boost my resume (such as ACLS and TNCC); is there anything else I could be doing to prepare myself to travel/ make myself more marketable?

3. I love my job as a float nurse and I am hoping that having this experience illustrates my flexibility as an RN, but I am wondering if it would hurt my chances at a travel job because I am not currently working on one floor/specialty, any thoughts?

To answer your questions:

1. NO, it is not too early to start looking for agencies. It takes time to feel out who you are comfortable with and getting your application/skills checklists/references all completed on file before you are submitted for potential assignments. Some agencies are already getting assignments for winter. Start NOW, you will be surprised how much time this will take (assuming of course you will speak to at least 5 agencies). You should also start thinking about where you would like to take assignments. If California is on your radar at anytime, especially January, you should start applying for that license now as it will take a few months to actually get that one. Other states are quicker, but none as notoriously slow as California (kudos to you if you are already licensed there). Point is, there are a lot of hoops to jump through before you are finally placed somewhere. I started my travel nurse research in April and started an assignment in October.

2. ALCS will be nice to have before you start traveling, but to be honest it has not been a selling point in any of my assignments that are tele. BLS is the one people seem to care about. The one I would definitely work on getting is the NIH Stroke Scale certification. You can do that for free online. Many assignments I get interviews for ask about that one. TNCC is more of an ER certification, I would not bother with that one.

3. Floating will be an asset in your profile, since travelers are often the first to float even if you are on contract with a home unit. You already have over 18 months of MS Tele experience on a home unit, and your floating experience only enhances your profile, dont think otherwise. You will be especially attractive to assignments that are seeking float pool nurses but be open to them only if you are ok with that. Some travelers hate floating which is odd to me because I always thought taking a travel assignment was mostly for the experience of traveling. And the fact that floating is inherent in traveling anyway, it is something you just have to accept as par for the course (assuming of course you are not very specialized like L/D, OR or ER).

Do keep in mind that you will only be able to travel in the experience that you have, you will be competitive for tele and stepdown units for sure.

That said, I have a question for you: How were you able to float to NICU with only MS Tele experience?? Those are worlds apart, I have never heard of such a thing (unless you meant either MICU or Neuro ICU, but even then those are beyond the scope of a MS Tele trained nurse).

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Thank you so much for your advice, I appreciate it!

To answer your question about floating to the NICU, I work in a smaller hospital that is very frequently short staffed, therefore the staffing pool employees are trained to float to every unit in the hospital after orienting to each. Keep in mind, however that when I float to the NICU I am not taking on the assignments identical to the actual NICU nurses, I am assigned to the "feeders and growers" and occasionally an infant on a nasal cannula, they know my abilities and do their best to make my assignments based on those, plus I always have a lot of amazing experienced nurses nearby as a resource.

Argo

Specializes in Peri-Op. Has 10 years experience.

I would NOT really them that you float to those specialty units. You WILL end up in one and over your head really quick if you are traveling to a larger hospital. Stick with tele or M/S