5 Tips for Working as a Traveling Nurse
Did you know the demand for nurses is so high that some areas don’t have enough of them to provide adequate healthcare? This is where traveling nurses come in. A traveling nurse is someone who travels to different areas of the country, working in the areas in the most need. Assignments can be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months long and often allows people to see more of the country or world while still maintaining a steady income. If you already know how to become a travel nurse, the next step is to learn some tips and tricks for working in the industry.
Pack Like You’re Going on a Long Trip
You’ll need your driver’s license, passport (if applicable), social security card, and contact information for your staffing company, new workplace, and temporary housing situation. In addition, include any documents pertaining to car insurance, health insurance, and roadside assistance agreements if you expect to drive between locations. You’ll also need to pack necessary prescriptions and a small first aid kit. Avoid packing over-the-counter medication you probably won’t need as you travel. It will just weigh you down and you can pick it up in each city as you travel.
Next, focus on your toiletries, clothing, and anything that reminds you of home. Most people don’t want to head to the store as soon as they reach a destination when traveling, so pack a sample size of your shampoo, conditioner, and other toiletries to tide you over until you feel like shopping. Plan your clothes just as lightly. Your scrubs should take up the most space. Include one or two outfits for your days off. You’ll likely only need something dressier if you are someone who enjoys theater or other events where you’re expected to dress up. Ideally, your clothes will fit into one suitcase. Finally, add a couple of things that remind you of home to the top of your suitcase, but avoid anything too valuable. Consider pictures or even a mixtape of special songs.
Have a Strong Savings Account
While many travel nursing companies provide a housing allowance, that doesn’t mean it will cover all your expenses. In some cases, you may even need to pay the upfront costs and then wait for reimbursement. For this reason, a savings account for living expenses is important. You can use it to pay deposits or utility bills, cover rent, set up internet and television services, and more. It’s a good idea to keep enough for medical or housing emergencies as well. Although they are rare, it is best to be prepared.
Verify Information Prior to Agreeing to a Job
Especially when you’re first starting out as a traveling nurse, it can be easy to get ahead of yourself in the excitement. However, it is very important to ask all your questions and verify all your information well before you sign the contract on the dotted line. Some topics to cover include whether you’ll have guaranteed hours, how much you’ll be paid, whether there are benefits or travel reimbursements, and whether you’ll need to sign a non-compete clause. You might also consider asking whether there are cancellation penalties if you need out of your contract for some reason.
Know What To Expect
After accepting a job, it helps if you research the area before you get there to keep you from feeling too discombobulated. Research the area’s housing options in advance. The agency you work with may provide suggestions, but it helps to look on your own, too. This is especially important if you want to be close to certain things, like shopping or entertainment, or if you’ll be traveling with family and need information on the best daycares or school systems. It might also help to talk to other travel nurses who have worked in the location. They’ll help you learn more about what to expect from the job as well as the best places to live and play in the city.
Know How To Choose a Travel Nursing Agency
When seeking out travel nursing jobs, the best way to do so is through an agency. However, it is important to understand that you can’t take agencies at face value. Just like any other company, some agencies will try to take advantage. Research each one thoroughly before working with one, considering which services are most important to you and asking questions along the way. Ask which destinations they send nurses to, which healthcare facilities they work most closely with, how they break down their pay packages, and more. You can also peruse Wandering Nurses, which provides reviews on travel nursing agencies, allows nurses to leave their own reviews, and helps connect people with agencies.
Travel nursing is an excellent way to follow your dreams of seeing the world without needing to give up your love of helping people. Whether you’re a NICU nurse, work in another specialty, or can handle all types of nursing jobs, your valuable healthcare experience can help you create a more valuable life experience.