Advice for New Travelers

  1. I am finishing my first assignment--in fact, I have 10 days left and wanted to offer some advice to those considering traveling.

    1) When you interview for a new assignment, assess the interviewer as they should be of you. When I was interviewed for my current assignment it did not seem like a professional interview. I can't remember at any time in my 10 years in nursing where I felt the interviewer did not ask me pertinent questions. She initiated the conversation by asking if I had any questions. I should have sensed or gone with my gut that this was probably not the best choice for my first assignment. However I was anxious to find an assignment, so I took the first thing that was offered.

    2) Make sure you are clear about floating and what the hospital defines floating as. I learned very quickly that this hospital system (that includes 2 hospitals which are 13 miles apart) would float you any time to the other hospital. And this can happen very frequently if you do not put your foot down or have your company intervene. Make it very clear in your contract and during the interview. If the interviewer is wishy-washy on this subject take it as a sign that this is not good.

    3) Make sure you are clear when you can pick up your keys for your apartment and call several times to remind the apt manager. I learned the hard way when I first got here and was locked out of the apartment even though I had arranged for the apt manager to leave the apt keys in the apartement. I had to go to Baltimore to get my license and then go to the hospital for pre-employment drug tests and then go to the apartment. I could not get there before 5pm and the offices were closed. I had to find a smoke free hotel room all the while hoping that I could move in the next day to the apartment. This was not an easy task since it was a Friday evening in the middle of August on the eastern shore. Many vacationers on their way to the beach had reserved rooms at the better hotels in the area. Anyway don't assume anything--don't assume that 1 phone call is enough to confirm arrangements. It was not enough in my experience.

    4) Don't take a longer assignment than normal so you are off for the holidays for your 1st assignment. I did--I signed for 14 weeks instead of 13. It has seemed like an eternity and I wish it was over this week. Unfortunately I have another week.

    5) Take care of yourself. I know many travelers bring their families but I did not. It can become lonely on the road esp if you become sick. I got the stomach flu last week and was very depressed over my situation of being alone in a strange area and sick. I also felt guilty and helpless about letting the hospital/company down when I was sick and unable to work.

    Lastly for many nurses traveling can be very rewarding. However there is always something lacking in an organization that depends so much on traveling staff.

    This experience has put money in my bank account but I can honestly say I have not gained much else except for knowledge about bad traveling assignments. I was impulsive in taking this assignment and a little naive. I was familiar with this hospital since I had worked for a short time at one of their hospitals 5 years ago. I let this familiarity sway my decision. Unfortunately I did not realize how much things had changed and not for the better. I just hope others can learn from my experience. What I have to look forward to is returning home and starting a new job in a new specialty for excellent pay. Although the pay not be as much as traveling, I think the other perks of being home outweighs the other benefits of traveling. Traveling is not for everyone and maybe it is not the right thing for me at this time.

    Good luck to all new travelers!
  2. Visit margnurse profile page

    About margnurse

    Joined: May '02; Posts: 17


    Sorry to hear that you didnt have such a great time traveling but like you admitted you didnt know truly what you were getting into . Everything about your apartment should have been handled by your company not you, and thats one thing you didnt know they also would have covered your hotel room if it was able for you to be able to pick up your keys during office hours of your apartment manager. Thats normal policy with apartment managers they are held responsible for thier apartments until you pick up the keys so leaving the keys in the place is not possible to them and thier responsiblity.
    As far as your interview , the interview itself is basically your responsibility, you control it and you also control your needs and wants and you get down to the nitty gritty while you have that person on the phone. Thats why you must know what you want and what you are willing to bend to when you negotiate with the supervisor , you seemed unprepared for your interview if you didnt know of the floating policy, as a travel you are the one in control not them , so you tell them what you will do and what you wont and they either settle for it or they dont either way you get what you want, because where one may not agree to your terms another does.
    To me your time spent as a traveler was more than what you bargained for, it isnt all high money and little work as some think it has its pros and cons which you have discovered but it has more pros than cons if you know its what you want. There are many hospitals that use travelers and not all of them have a "Problem" within themselves because they have to use travelers , most use travelers to cover staff that either are out for other reasons or thier needs have grown and they dont have the staff to cover it as yet. Sorry to hear that your experience was so sad for you , but speaking as a seasoned traveler (6 yrs) and overseas as well, if you first dont succeed try try again. Its great for a vacation and good money but if its not what works for you then thats cool too but now that you tried it once then maybe when a traveler comes to your hospital , Maybe you can see it in your heart to be friendly to them , because you have felt the chill of the shoulder towards travelers yourself
    Just a thought
  4. by   Brownms46
    Excellent posts all around. ((((((((((margnurse))))))), I 'm very sorry you had such a bad experience your first time out. But I must fault your agency for a lot of this. As a new traveler it was their job to help you with being ready for your interview. Most of the time the phone interview is a causal one. And I usually can get a feel for what is what when I talk to that person.

    Sometimes you can't, as they can be pretty good at giving great snow jobs. And yes Zoe was correct, your agency should have after a call from you about the apt. not being available to you, should have called around while you went and got yourself a cup or coffee, or a bite to eat. Found you a hotel, paid for it or reimburesed you for the cost, and for your food!

    The agency I work for recently did this for a traveler, after the person who made the travel arrangements quit, and told them they had taken care of everything. Well the traveler ended up staying in hotel just a block from the hospital, with all the amenities, and the agency paid for her meals.

    I can understand you taking a step back from travel after this experience. But believe me, even with 10yrs of travel experience, I had to learn by trial and error. I'm now going to an assignmnet that I might end up stayiing at. But only because I'm ready to settle down, and put down roots. But if it turns out not to be the place for me, I have no problems with continuing to travel until I do find what I want. Also I have had the apartment manager leave the key in an apartment before with no problem. I think that happened on about 3 assignments at least.

    I sincerely wish you all the best in your new position. But if it proves not to be what you want, I would suggest giving travel another chance with a different agency. If I can ever help...please don't hesistate to ask..
    Last edit by Brownms46 on Nov 7, '02
  5. by   margnurse
    All your comments were very good. Looking back, I should not have taken this assignment. The clinical coordinator interviewed me and seemed flightly and unsure of answers to my questions. I did not even meet or speak with the nurse manager for several weeks after starting. I know live and learn. My contract was not really abided by also. Floating was mentioned but not floating several miles every other day to another hospital. I was supposed to work every other weekend but that has not been the case and the last 3-4 weeks of my contract I have have been scheduled to work every weekend. And it is not always scheduling by need. My last day they have 6 nurses working and that is a Sunday when census is usually down.

    I was even floated to ICU/tele and given a patient assignment even though I did not have any experience in that setting. My company backed me up but at the time since I was new to travel nursing I did not know if I had any say or power to refuse such a circumstance. It did not help that one of the travel nurses who was in orientation with me was fired without much notice. I could not find out except by hear-say what actually happened that caused her contract to be terminated. I felt competent in my skills as a nurse but I was a little nervous about what would happen if I screwed up or even spoke out.

    Also my company did reimburse me for the hotel stay and deficiencies in the apt such as a microwave. (The condition of the apt was also not that great to say the least) I just remember the panic when I could not reach anyone after 5 pm on a Friday evening and looking for a hotel room when there were not many vacancies. Maybe this experience was an aberration in travel assignments but I don't want to take that chance at this time.
  6. by   kidnurse20
    Hey Margnurse,
    Thanks for the info, I too am getting really to travel. All information is appreciated!!! Thanks for taking the time!!