Travel Nurse, Checklist for getting started

  1. Hello,
    How is everyone? (First post)

    So, I'm going to start traveling soon. I've got some of my information submitted to two different travel agencies at the moment, and I will eventually add one more company into the mix. In the meantime, I have been trying to gather up all of the basic documention and such that is required before these companies can start submitting my application to the different hospitals in order to get me into an assignment... Listed below are some of these, and I was wondering what other items are recommended to have in one's professional portfolio in order to facilitate getting oneself into available assignments as quickly as is possible?

    1. Drivers license (copies of both front and back)
    2. Social Security card (copies front/back)
    3. Nursing license (current and up to date)
    4. Immunizations; measles, mumps, rubella, polio, varicella, and hep b (copies of)
    5. Tb/ppd (recent within past 12 mnths seems most common)
    6. Tetanus/dipth (recent within past 12 mnths)
    7. MD physical (recent within past 12 mnths)
    8. Required Certifications specific to unit, hospital, and specialty (copies of)
    Emergency Department generally: BLS, ACLS, PALS, TNCC, ENPC etc...
    9. N95 respirator fit test (copy of result/correct size)
    10. 3 to 5 proffessional refferences (personally written letter, generic form, maybe just their contact info)
    11. Resume

    The following appears to be obtained only after actually interviewing, and accepting an assignment. From what I understand, these are also generally going to be facillitated through the company/recruiter...

    1. Contract from travel company final negotiations, agreed upon, and signed
    2. Criminal background check
    3. Urine, salliva, and/or hair drug screen(s)
    4. Any math, medication, and/or facility required testing and modules (ie: PBDS)

    Does this all sound about right? Is there anything that I am missing? I'm excited to get this ball rolling, and start my new experiences as a travel nurse. Money is definitely important to me, but what I am most excited about, is to experience how some of the different facilities operate compared to the one I have been working in for the past 7 years. I have greater than 7 years of full-time experience as an RN in a regional level 2 trauma center, seeing approximately 90,000 patients per year. 65 bed's in the ED. The hospital has about 800 beds total.

    Last edit by dot92 on Nov 26, '13 : Reason: add information
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    About dot92

    Joined: Nov '13; Posts: 8; Likes: 2


  3. by   BluntForceTrauma
    Some hospitals require a 2 step PPD...which only means you have to have a second one done.
  4. by   NedRN
    Almost all of your list are things you need after an interview. Some agencies may try to ask for the other stuff but they don't really need it.

    What agencies need to submit you for a hospital interview is your work history (your resume may work here if detailed, or the agency application will also collect the same info), your specialty skills checklist (I would try using the one from PanTravelers as a much better one than any agency has - a particular agency may not accept it though), and two recent references (always go written). That is it!

    I would discourage you from sending more before you get an assignment - kind of a waste of time and some of these documents are sensitive, you don't really want to send it to every agency without proof that they can get you an assignment you want with the right compensation et cetera.

    After you have interviewed and accepted the assignment, they will need much of what you list. Specifically:

    • Copies of licenses (some are online only) and certifications like BLS and ACLS.
    • Annual physical clearance with supporting titers. PPD often has a short time criteria like 30 days before start, so don't get it done until needed - may need two step PPD. Annual flu shot often required by the hospital.
    • N95 test results sometimes also required (often done during hospital orientation). Save any documentation, but don't do on your own. Technically the employer is responsible to obtain and pay for it.
    • Background check and drug screen: Agency responsibility to do/initiate and pay. Your own copies will not be accepted.
    • I-9 form for US working status - this is where you will need your SS card and ID.
    • W-4 for tax withholding status
    • Housing questionnaire for determining tax home status: agency provided

    Other documents:

    • OSHA training, math tests, drug tests, and other mandatories. Every agency will have their own. These are often repeated during hospital orientation.
    • Job contract
  5. by   dot92

    That was detailed information, and answers some other questions I was curious about too. Thanks. Even though I feel as though I am ready for this, its still somewhat daunting to me because I've never ventured out with my nursing career like this before. I've sailed overseas to several different continents, and fought in wars, but I have only been employed with nursing in one department, at one hospital, located in one area so far... One recruiter I have been dealing with is great! Another one with a different company is hard to get ahold of, and is also kind of pushy. Im not sure why, or how come she thinks its ok to be that way? Maybe she doesn't like dealing with unseasoned travelers? Either way, I will most likely be asking to switch recruiters soon, as I want to stay with this company for some of the typical contracts that seem to be available to them.
  6. by   NedRN
    There are lots of agencies, and I would recommend talking to lots of them to find recruiters you communicate well with. Then weed them down to say 5 to discuss specifics with and submit your paperwork. Unless you were referring to one of the Cross Country or American Mobile agencies, I wouldn't bother trying to switch recruiters, just move on. Again, lots of agencies.

    You might see also if you can work per diem at another area hospital for a skills check. You want to know if your existing skills and experience move well and that you can adopt to a new hospital environment and culture quickly. That will inform your decision.
  7. by   aamy
    It has been my experience that they want the majority of what you listed in items 1-11 prior to an interview. I don't know that it's required (prior to an interview) but that's what I was asked to submit. I didn't submit any of it until I pinned down the 3 agencies that I wanted to work with. Of course, other documents and requirements are facility specific. For one assignment, I had to have an MMR vaccine because apparently I was no longer immune.
  8. by   dot92
    I wanted to check back in here now that I am actually ready to head out and start traveling. I finally have everything in order at the home front...

    I have three agencies that I'm thinking of going with, and was wondering if anyone can give me some insight, or an opinion on the ones I have in mind? Has anyone used, or know much about any of these three: Supplemental, Soliant, or NurseChoice?

    I have done some research, and spoken to recruiters from all three of these agencies. As of yesterday, one of them has all of my information, and is looking to find me an assignment. I was most satisfied with the recruiter from Soliant, and so that is the one that im fully signed up with at this point. I still want to sign up with two other agencies to broaden my options and compare notes. I know that NurseChoice is part of American Mobile, and have heard the horror stories associated with them. However, I have a friend who had good luck with them on two seperate assignments. They also staff the rapid response type of assignments that pay very well, and they can get the shorter six to eight week assignments too. Those are the two main reasons why I like them. Although, I am sure that when working rapid response type of assignments, you do work hard and earn your paycheck. So, I'm not real sure if that would be the best agency to start out with as a first time traveler? I am confident, and know that I am a strong ED nurse, but still... I know that in the future, I would like to do the occassional rapid response assignments, working lots of overtime for one to two months, but I don't think it would be smart as my first ever travel assignment? Any comments on this?

    This is where Soliant and Supplemental come into play. I believe these two agencies can provide a better first time overall travel experience, getting me off on the right foot... Then, after I complete an assignment or two with either of these two agencies, I could try out rapid response travel assignments with a company like NurseChoice? Does anyone know much about either of these two agencies? I have also concidered RNnetwork too, but haven't talked to them yet.

    My last concerne for right now.. I would really like to sign up with and compare multiple agencies (max 5 or 6), but do get concerned about my references. If someone signs up with multiple agencies like that, providing references to each of them, then those references are constantly going to be getting phone calls and inquires... I have about eight good references. Each agency I've spoken to wants between 3 - 5 references, and they all want to talk to those references before they are willing to discuss available assignments, etc... If I sign up with multiple agencies, then my references are consatntly going to be getting phone calls... Is there any way around this? Because I dont want my refereences to feel like they are being harassed. Does that make sense?

  9. by   NedRN
    I think you are doing fine with your agency search. My main comment would be on your references - you need to get references in writing, period. It will give you much better control over your career for a multitude of reasons. It will make it much more valuable to your agencies, and written references are much easier to verify. They may not even talk to your reference and if they find them, all that is needed is a simple "did you write this" so it won't burn your references out. It is often easier to simply verify your employment and your reference's employment - one call to HR. No matter what, you know exactly what is said because you have it in writing. Calls to references, even if they get them on the phone, can result in almost anything being said by anyone who answers the phone. That is, if their employer even allows them to say anything at all other than dates of employment.

    When you are on assignment, you need to get written references early and often (I've gotten as many as four different managers/directors/charge nurses on one assignment to write one for me). This will help protect you against any claims of incompetence if the hospital decides to term you for any reason. If an assignment then does end early for any reason, having a written reference allows you to show the assignment on your work history without fear of what the hospital might say.

    PanTravelers has several reference/evaluation forms for travelers available for free downloading. They literally take only a couple minutes to fill out - I like to wait rather than just drop it off. That also allows me to explain that its intended use is for an external reference rather than professional improvement.

    By the way, you don't have to limit yourself to managers. I have a good friend in the ED who gets these remarkable references from physicians and has used them to good effect.
  10. by   dot92
    I'm going to take your advice, and look into those reference forms from that website you mentioned. I've been to that site before, and believe I am a registered member there too. That makes sense to get those references down in writing. I would imagine that'll make things all around better/easier. It'll be as simple as scanning them in, to send them off to the different agencies.
  11. by   NedRN
    Indeed! By the way, set your scanner software to black and white, 200 dpi resolution, and PDF output for best results. Any other settings increase the file size which can make emailing difficult or may reduce effective resolution for printing or viewing on a monitor.
  12. by   BluntForceTrauma
    There are several smart phone apps that will turn simple pictures of your documents into PDFs for easy uploads and emailing. I use genius scan.
  13. by   NedRN
    None of the smartphone apps hold a candle to a real scanner. They should be used only for emergencies when it comes to important documents. I carry a Canoscan with me, it is the size of a laptop and about one pound. I can easily live without a printer (except at tax time), but I can't live without my scanner! I scan everything and toss the paper.

    I just got back from Europe and I did use a scanner app extensively for receipts. Good enough for my own records, but I would never want to use it for a profile item like a reference, a crappy looking profile is not what you want to present to a potential employer - it doesn't look professional. I have no doubt that you and many others use it successfully, but if it costs you the edge on an assignment, you will never know.
  14. by   BluntForceTrauma
    I worried about the quality, but them I sent the files to myself via email and downloaded them and printed them. I could not tell a difference between the original and the copy. But to each it's own!