Choosing to become a traveling nurse or PT is an exciting career opportunity that can allow you to travel for hundreds of hours a year. However, it can sometimes feel daunting or overwhelming, especially when you first enter the career. With experience comes knowledge on how to best navigate traveling assignments; however, there are always new ways to maximize your experiences. From getting used to a new area and meeting the staff to navigating position openings, we’ve compiled all of the best tips for those looking to get the most out of their travel assignment.
The main thing you’ll want to do when you reach your new locale is go exploring. Start by figuring out what is near both your housing accommodations and the hospital you’re working at and slowly fan-out from there. While you don’t need to know the exact layout of every city or town you work in, getting a general knowledge can help you navigate your surroundings while learning more about and appreciating the local culture (even if it’s a small town in the middle of nowhere).
A lot of people love the fat paychecks that traveling nursing offers, and it can be tempting to spend that money almost as soon as you get it. The main thing most nurses find helps them is coming up with a clear and concise budget. Most traveling nurses can get by on less than 50% of their salary per month, leaving that other half for bills in their home location, savings, etc. By creating a clear budget for things like accommodations, gas, food, etc., you will find you have more money to spend on things you enjoy. Budgeting isn’t fun, but you’ll enjoy all your extra cash.
Look at Various Opportunities
Everyone dreams of exotic or fun locations like Hawaii, New York City or Beverly Hills. Here’s the thing; so does every other traveling nurse. These locations will fill up quite quickly, and tend to pay significantly less when compared to the cost of living. Instead, traveling nurses and physical therapists should look at locations that are known to pay well (Texas, North Dakota) or need a specialized nurse. Many small-town hospitals are willing to pay much more simply because so few people want to go there. Finally, remember that some hospitals may not be in the most desirable locations; however, you’ll only be there for a few weeks.
Getting around your new temporary home can be a trying experience, especially if you’re not used to the primary method of transportation. For example, many people in larger cities use public transportation to get from one place to another. This can be a culture shock for someone who is from a smaller town in the middle of the mid-west where a car is necessary. Consider what methods of transportation will fit within your budget as well as what you’re comfortable with. Finally, look to connect with other nurses at the hospital you’re working at to see if they’d be interested in carpooling.
Finding a place to stay as a traveling nurse can feel a little overwhelming. Hospital housing, apartments, Airbnb, hotels and an assortment of other viable housing options can all seem tempting. There’s no right answer when it comes to accommodations, and each option has its pros and cons. For example, hotels offer loads of amenities; however, you’re usually limited to one room and will have increased costs. Hospital housing is right at work, but the accommodations are usually far from luxurious. Most nurses will look to see if their recruiter can provide some sort of housing deal. This prevents the lease from being in their name while ensuring they’ll have quality housing.
Being a traveling nurse requires you to stay organized. There is a mountain of paperwork that comes with each assignment in addition to continuing education courses, Compact License renewals, etc. When working as a traveling nurse, it is integral to stay as organized as possible. This allows you to apply for and obtain jobs much easier (you’ll never need to worry about losing out because you weren’t prepared) in addition to keeping your records easy-to-sort.
Connect with Staff
One of the best things about working as a traveling nurse is meeting an assortment of different staff members. With different experiences and skillsets, you can find some friendships that last for life at each destination you work at. The main thing you’ll want to do is take the time to introduce yourself to staff. This allows you to not only get to know who everyone is, but it can also lead to discovering people who are interested in some of the same activities you are. The main thing to remember here is that there will be people you meet that you simply bump heads with. Don’t burn bridges with even the most difficult staff members because you might want to come to that hospital again in the future.
We’ve seen far too many nurses who pack an extremely large amount of clothing, mementos and even housewares as they go to seek new opportunities. One of the benefits of traveling nursing or PT is getting to travel, and having a large number of items can simply weigh you down. Instead, look to pack smart. Do you have an ultra-soft pillow you fantasize about whenever you’re away from home? Does your favorite coffee mug from your child bring you untold joy? Take the time to pack meaningful items like this. They’ll bring you the comforts of home without taking up an obscene amount of room. Finally, remember that large items will severely limit what you can pack, so weigh your options when deciding between that life-size teddy bear and your clothes.
Talk to Your Recruiter
One of the best things about working with a recruiter is their availability. If you have a problem at the hospital you’re looking at, need answers to important questions about your contract, or just need to ask some questions due to traveling nursing being a new venture, it’s integral you speak to your recruiter when something comes up. Your recruiter will be your biggest advocate, allowing you the chance to get exactly what you signed up for.
Do Your Homework on Each Hospital
This doesn’t mean you need to have near-FBI skills to find out everything about every person on the floor you’ll be working on; however, some research on the hospitals you’re considering working at or going to can help you navigate the new job. Look to see what other traveling nurses (Facebook groups are great for connections) have said about the hospital to get a better understating of what to expect.
Choosing to work as a traveling nurse is an excellent opportunity for anyone who wants to earn a large amount of money while helping people and exploring new destinations. However, to be successful as a traveling nurse, it’s important to make the most of your opportunities by following the above tips. If you’re ready to take the plunge into traveling nursing or PT, now is the perfect time to begin communicating with recruiters. Contact us today, so we can get you to your dream destination ASAP.
Looking to start your career in Healthcare? At MLee Healthcare Staffing & Recruiting, we’ll help you start your new adventure.