Maybe travel nursing is a new dream for you. Maybe you stumbled upon some amazing stories from other travel nurses, or heard about the many benefits that come with a travel nursing job with a nursing staffing agency like Elite Specialty Staffing. You’re all excited and want to find out more.
Or maybe you’ve known since the day you decided to go to nursing school and become a registered nurse, that one day you’d become a travel nurse. Every clinical, every skills test, every internship, every hour worked…all the blood, sweat, tears and other bodily fluids you’ve had the “pleasure” of cleaning up during patient care, was so that eventually you could reach your goal and land a travel nursing job.
Finally, the moment has arrived! You’ve just completed two full years of hospital experience in a medical-surgical unit. That’s just enough for you to enter into the world of travel nursing. But how do you choose the right travel nursing job?
We’ve got five things to remember on your quest, so that you can land your dream travel nursing job!
Find the Perfect Location
Do you want to enjoy the beaches of Los Angeles, rub shoulders with the tech tech innovators in San Francisco, or ski down the slopes in Aspen? Do you want to work in a rural area, or a big city? Thanks to travel nursing any, or all, of the above is possible. It’s just a matter of sitting down and making a list of locations you want to work in and apply as soon as a travel nursing job becomes available.
Bear in mind it’s wise to start with a travel nursing job that allows you to utilize your current skill set and develop it. That might mean starting out in a city that isn’t in your top five, but the job in that city can help you gain the skills you need for a job that is.
For example, if you want to work in the ICU deep in the heart of Manhattan, but only have experience working in small rural hospitals, going straight for New York City is probably not be the best idea. It would be better to work in the ICU in a mid-sized city before you apply for a job in NYC. Great travel nursing staffing agencies will be able to help advise you on what’s the best move for your career. At Elite Specialty Staffing, our Nurse Advocates and Recruiters are ready to have a conversation!.
Most hospitals will offer you a 13-week contract, but they are also, usually, negotiable. So if you’re looking to go to a specific location, but the time frame doesn’t fit precisely, ask your Nurse Advocate to help you negotiate the contract so it suits your schedule.
A travel nursing job generally has high paying hourly wages. However, there are many factors to look at, as it isn’t the travel nursing salary alone that affects how much you’ll actually carry home with you at the end of the day. A great benefits package will often make you just as much in the long term.
Hourly rates depend on location, type of travel nurse assignment (critical nursing often pays more, for example, and covering hospital strikes tends to pay more than anything else), as well as the hospital staff nursing positions. You can read more about salary specifics on our site here.
Do you get subsidies for housing, food and travel expenses? If so, is that already included in the hourly rate you are shown? A good travel nurse agency will be completely transparent with hourly salary and subsidies, as well as things that may affect them.
Make sure you compare the travel reimbursements to the cost of living in the place you are going to fill an assignment. Will the subsidies actually cover the real costs, or only part of them?
If housing is provided, can you opt for subsidies instead and find your own housing that is cheaper? If so, is it worth the hassle?
Almost all travel nurse agencies will provide you with medical insurance, but as we know, not all insurances were created equal. Be sure to read the fine print. Same goes for retirement plans.
Many travel nursing companies also provide sign-on and completion bonuses, as well as referral bonuses. Just beware these often come with a fine print and aren’t always as lucrative as they seem. That said, it is possible that you can make over $5,000 just in bonuses for a single job!
Lastly, bear in mind the overall cost of living. Certain cities are pricier than others. The cost of going out for a night on town is a lot higher in New York City than it is in rural New York. You’ll have plenty to do in New York City, but it’s also likely you’ll spend plenty of money doing all the things you want to do when there!
If money is the biggest part of your travel nursing dream at the moment, compare the pay, bonuses and subsidies in relation to the cost of living. After that, you can make an informed decision about which placement to choose!
Read the Reviews
Thanks to a world obsessed with Yelp, Google, and Facebook, people leave online reviews. With a little bit of research you’ll be able to find out what it’s like working at a specific hospital. Even if you can’t find any reviews online, chances are that the travel nursing staffing agency you are talking to will have placed nurses there in the past, before you.
Ask for reviews from your Nurse Advocate, and to talk with current nurses working at the hospital or facility. Maybe you will even be able to speak to them over the phone. At the very least, the Travel Nurse Advocate you are working with should be able to recommend places that have had positive feedback from other nurses.
As most hospitals hire seasonally for the busy periods or other short term needs, travel nursing is very common and almost always in high demand. As a result, you can usually find someone online who has worked at a specific trauma center or facility and connect with them. There are plenty of Facebook forums for travel nurses, for example.
Choose a Reputable Travel Nurse Agency
Just as you should research the travel nursing job you consider applying for, you should research the travel nurse agency you will work with. The right kind of agency will be there for you and assist you with any problems that may arise. They will also help guide you and will only recommend positions they know are a fit.
A good travel nurse recruiter should be your advocate and be able to answer any questions you may have with regards to salary, benefits package, stipends, insurance, etc. That includes the fine print, not just the sales pitch. They should also have good reviews online, unless they only just opened their doors or are highly specialized.
Bear in mind that contracts are negotiable and a good agency should be able to work with you
Only Consider Travel Nursing Jobs You Have the Right Experience for
When searching for your next travel nurse assignment, it’s tempting to look at everything. Don’t. Narrow it down to the jobs you have the right experience for. Most travel nursing assignments require at least two years of experience in the chosen field or specialty.
To ensure you can apply for as many travel nursing jobs as possible, first make sure you’ve got your NCLEX RN out of the way, and then make sure you’re up to date with PALS, CPR, etc. Sort all the licensing you can do by yourself before you start the application process. As for any licensing you might need to work in a specific state, your travel nurse agency will be able to help you with that once you’ve located a job. Beware that most licensing takes about eight weeks, so you have to apply for jobs well in time.