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jaidon84 jaidon84 (New Member) New Member

Travel nursing? Those with experience - how does it work?

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What up people, pre-nursing student here. I have a question for travel RNs - how does it work? Have some years left to finish my nursing education, but want to know what I am getting myself into to see if it will hinder some of my life goals. My ideal lifestyle post-graduation would be to work for a few months and take off a few months. The reason is for outdoors traveling, adventuring, mountain climbing etc. Plus i am single with no kids and plan to remain that way for a while. Anyways i don't have a lot of expenses and don't really need to work 12 months a year. A guy like me can very well do 4-6 months of work and make that last.

So for those travel RNs out there how does the whole process work? Is it somewhat like a union where whenever you want work you just stroll by the union hall and ask for any work thats available? If so how easy is it getting hired? I hear most contracts are 13 weeks at most which is perfect! But i'm a little on edge on how smooth the whole process is. How many applications do you put in before landing a contract, how long do you wait until you get the position after applying? Genuinely appreciate all replies. Thanks.

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Well, my dear, welcome to reality:

To work travel you need experience. Plenty of it, and better in different areas and settings. Because it works, basically, like this: you sign contract, come in a place you never was before (good if you know ahead; some local agencies can call you at 4 AM and ask to hit the floor at 6:30, with 1.5 h drive to get there), given your load (frequently more and sicker and needier patients than everybody else's) and you are supposed to get it all running nice and smooth from zero. There can be no orientation at all or one just showing you what is where.

Not counting everything else, sometimes one counts himself just as d*** lucky not killing anyone at the end of the day.

These skills take years to develop and only months to lose. So, start working, preferably good ol'fashioned medsurg or lower level ICU or "acute" LTACH - or, preferably, in all these places and then some more - and do it for at least for couple of years before you even start thinking about the lifestyle you might would like.

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Well, my dear, welcome to reality:

To work travel you need experience. Plenty of it, and better in different areas and settings. Because it works, basically, like this: you sign contract, come in a place you never was before (good if you know ahead; some local agencies can call you at 4 AM and ask to hit the floor at 6:30, with 1.5 h drive to get there), given your load (frequently more and sicker and needier patients than everybody else's) and you are supposed to get it all running nice and smooth from zero. There can be no orientation at all or one just showing you what is where.

Not counting everything else, sometimes one counts himself just as d*** lucky not killing anyone at the end of the day.

These skills take years to develop and only months to lose. So, start working, preferably good ol'fashioned medsurg or lower level ICU or "acute" LTACH - or, preferably, in all these places and then some more - and do it for at least for couple of years before you even start thinking about the lifestyle you might would like.

100% all of this. Any reputable agency will want at least 2 years of experience in an area before even talking to you. If they don't require it, they are putting your license in jeopardy.

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Travel nursing is great, but I wouldn't describe the process as smooth. It's a lot less glamorous than it's portrayed lol. I think for what you describe as a lifestyle goal, travel nursing would be great for you. But you are years away from being able to travel.

The overall recommendation is two years of experience in the specialty you want to travel in. People have done it with less, but you're functioning as a mercenary - get in, do your job, get out. You get very minimal orientation, so you need to know your stuff. I started with 3.5 years experience, which I think was fine, but variable experience like that of a pool nurse is better; that comes from my experience as a MS/tele/stepdown nurse, so someone highly specialized might not feel that way. I can get floated a lot more places than, say, an L&D nurse.

Most nurses hook up with recruiters at various agencies who have a job lists and find ones that suit your experience and needs. I can apply to a job and get a phone call in a couple hours, a couple days, or never get a call. Just depends. The frustration isn't getting a job, it's getting a job you want. If you are flexible with shift and location, you will have an easier time finding work.

You need to have money saved up before you start. If something falls through with your contract, or you can't find a contract when you want one, you need to have living expenses saved up. Anything can happen. I don't understand people get delayed by two weeks because of compliance or something and are broke.

Most of all, you have to be flexible. You are the help. Sometimes that means you get a harder assignment, or you don't get the sick patients you like caring for, or your contract gets delayed, or your schedule sucks so the staff can have a better one. But it all varies. I've had horrible hospital experiences in beautiful locations and great hospital experiences in less than desirable climates. I've had 8 hours of orientation and I've had two weeks. You just have to roll with it.

There's a lot more specifics that aren't worth getting in to at this point since you're so far out of starting. Focus on becoming a nurse, then getting your experience, then decide what you want to do.

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You need to have money saved up before you start. If something falls through with your contract, or you can't find a contract when you want one, you need to have living expenses saved up. Anything can happen. I don't understand people get delayed by two weeks because of compliance or something and are broke.

.

Have you made good income being a traveler?

I have honestly thought about buying a Toyota Tacoma, long bed, and sleeping in there during assignments. Showering at a local gym or at the hospital and such. It would be a big way to save extra $$. Buying some portable equipment for cooking and such. Maybe a mini fridge. Is that crazy?

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I do well enough. I make more myself than my husband and I used to make together. He travels with me and is often able to get a job where my assignment is, so that's extra we don't expect to get. We don't save as much money up as our mortgage is more than our old rent, but I'm more picky about pay now so it practically evens out.

If you can handle that sort of living, more power to you. I have a house and my last assignment came with an apartment with a gym and a pool, so I'm spoiled to the point that I can barely tolerate the two room but otherwise perfectly nice apartment I'm in now. I don't think I could even do the RV thing.

Edited by Swellz
grammar

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As some have suggested I would to second that travel nursing is much, much more glamorous that what it really is. There is the constant worry of securing your next travel assignment, added to the stress of acclimating to a different environment, coworkers, rules, policies, practices, standards, and documentation expectations every 13 weeks. Also, there exist few protections for travel nurses and their contracts can be arbitrarily canceled for just about any reason. Not to deny anyone of their dream(s), while the money is good, with all things factored into the equation (benefits, unpaid time off waiting for orientation windows...) it was pretty much a wash for me and I went back to perm.

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Standard disclaimer: results vary. By the individual personality, but also by a myriad of possible unique happenstances.

Disregarding the spin of the wheel, honestly, you should be able to do just as well financially as staff as traveler (with the rather large assumption that you apply the same fiscal discipline with either type of career).

Travel is financially similar to working per diem: higher hourly in lieu of benefits. Thus it can be great early in a career to pay off debts quickly or save for a house down payment. Same in late career when one might realize you have no savings and will have to live on Social Security.

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