Nurses come first at Elite Specialty Staffing. Any moment we get a chance to catch up with a busy travel nurse, you better believe we’re on it. Brandi Combs RN agreed to answer some common travel nursing questions to help you gain greater insight into this exciting career choice.
When she is not picking up the extra shifts per diem from her local travel nursing agency at a busy hospital, or snuggling with her beautiful grandson, or enjoying time on the boat with her husband at her lake house in Ohio, you will can find Brandi working on a travel nursing assignment most likely in sunny California. Keep reading to gain deeper insight into the world of travel nursing as you read about Brandi’s experiences she unveiled in our exclusive interview with her.
Travel Nursing Questions Answered by an Experienced Traveling Nurse
Question One: Why did you become a travel nurse?
- Answer One: I became a travel nurse because I have a naturally adventurous personality and love to travel. As a staff nurse, you can only take a small amount of vacation each year, so one perk is to be able to travel to new areas and explore on my days off!
Question Two: How do you like working at facilities on a short-term basis?
- Answer Two: I don’t have to worry about the politics involved when working for a hospital per diem or on a travel contract. I just go, ask how they do things and take care of my patients. I’m not there to try to change anything, just help them through and be a good team player.
Question Three: What did you choose for the housing accommodations?
- Answer Three: I always choose to take the stipends and find my own housing. I like to be able to research the area and research reviews from other people before I decide where to stay. I look for a clean, safe neighborhood and near the hospital and near fun things to do. Also if I am able to find housing below my stipend amount then I can keep the difference as income.
Question Four: Did you have any advice for nurses traveling with pets or family?
- Answer Four: We brought our pets to California with us this past winter and it was the first time to bring them. We drove from Ohio to California and they actually did well. I made sure they had vet checkups and all the shots were up to date and had them give me copies of their complete records. We brought a dog and two cats. I researched along the way pet-friendly hotels. We made stops to give them potty breaks and time to eat.
Question Five: How do you like per diem nursing compared to travel nursing contracts?
- Answer Five: Per diem nursing contracts are nice too because they are close to home and I can pick up only when I want and not be committed to three 12-hour shifts per week.
Question Six: What do you look for when choosing a travel nursing agency?
- Answer Six: Insurance can be a big issue when traveling. In my early years, I traveled near home so my husband could still work his full-time job and carry our medical insurance. As he began to travel with me, we lost that option. We chose to buy our own private medical insurance through a broker and we pay a premium every month. I went this route because if you take travel company medical insurance, it is canceled around 20 days after your contract is finished. This is fine if you plan to start a new contract within that time and your insurance won’t lapse. I sometimes like to take longer or do something different and didn’t want to find ourselves without medical coverage. Different travel companies offer good or not so good insurance too. I actually just decided to try out the insurance with my current company. I’m very happy with my current travel nursing agency and I love my recruiter so I don’t see myself changing companies any time soon.
Question Seven: Has travel nursing opened new doors or changed your lifestyle?
- Answer Seven: I love, love, love travel nursing! I have met so many people and I learned to be a nurse who can just jump into a new place and go!
Question Eight: What kind of impact do your travel nursing agency and recruiter have on your assignment?
- Answer Eight: With traveling, your company and recruiter really have a huge impact on your overall experience. I’ve worked with six companies and this one offers its nurses everything from bonuses, free continuing education units (CEUs), reimbursement for anything you need to do your job, great benefits, but they also treat you like they care about you! They appreciate their nurses and are always doing things to show it.
Question Nine: What’s your best advice for nurses for hitting the floor on the first day of a travel assignment?
- Answer Nine: I have a basic quiz of need-to-know information I run through when starting out in a new location. As part of this quiz, I get the answers to the following questions:
- Where are the supplies?
- What are the door codes?
- What phones numbers do I need?
- What specific policies should I know?
- How does the charting system work?
Question Ten: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced during an assignment?
- Answer Ten: Sometimes finding housing can be tough, but we were lucky and found a house to rent all winter that even had a fenced in yard for our dog and cats during my last travel nursing assignment in California.
Question Eleven: How do you choose which travel nursing assignment you want to take?
- Answer Eleven: I like to give my recruiter an idea of places that I would like to do. I like the general areas. Then I ask her to gather everything she has with pay packages and email me everything. I don’t like to be pressured and she never makes me feel that way. Then I do deep searches on the area, hospital, crime rate, things to do in the area. After I do that I’ll tell her my top three choices to be submitted to.
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