We're writing this first blog post while driving out of Alaska on a snow covered highway. We have the Wrangell St. Elias mountain range on our right side energizing us to throw out some travel info. Kasey has the wheel and I've got my trusty notepad so here we go…. We've been debating the first blog post topic and realize a general explanation of travel nursing is necessary….
To start, here's a list of FAQs we receive on a daily basis from anyone new we meet:
What is a traveling nurse?
A traveling nurse is a registered nurse who is a contract worker at a hospital for typically 13 weeks. Contracts vary in length, they may be 8 or 26 weeks, or sometimes you're given an option to extend your time. Hospitals across the United States staff traveling nurses, the need varies from hospital to hospital and state to state. When the current contract is coming to an end, the nurse will find their next contract (often with the help of a staffing company) and be on their traveling way to the next job.
Can you choose where you go as a traveling nurse?
Yes! No one dictates where you travel. You can choose to take an assignment in Maine, then go to California, then down to Arizona. It is 100% your choice. Your only requirement is to have a license in each state (which we will eventually go into further detail about).
Can any nurse be a traveling nurse?
Hospitals and staffing agencies want nurses with experience. The standard requirement is one year of experience, most prefer two years. Hospitals hire travelers to fill a need. Confidence in your skills, flexibility and above all adherence to safety is a must. A traveler is given 1-3 days orientation and then you are on your own. Don't let this deter you though, you're still never alone and have coworkers at your side. As experienced travelers, we've felt welcomed with open arms by the permanent staff because we are there to help them in a time of a staffing shortage.
How do you get paid as a traveling nurse?
Typically, you have a staffing company take care of all the details for you. There are hundreds of staffing companies out there. Your recruiter will negotiate a contract with the hospital. Your paycheck and benefits will come directly from your agency. (On rare occasions, some hospitals may staff their own travelers) We have numerous details about navigating staffing companies and working with recruiters. Stay tuned!
How do you know where to live when you go to a new location?
You may choose to use company provided housing or take a housing subsidy and find your own place. Yes, that's right, your housing is paid for! Company provided housing is typically a furnished one bedroom apartment with all utilities included, often close to the hospital and/or attractions specific to your location. If you choose to take the housing stipend, other resources to find housing include craigslist, AirBnB, and word of mouth from other travelers or friends.
With an open mind and sense of flexibility, don't be scared to go to unknown areas of the country to do a job you're already doing and love. You'll meet all kinds of people and learn something new everyday. Often, permanent nurses ask us about being lonely in a new place. Nowadays, it's easier than ever to meet people. A specific site and app we use that is extremely helpful is Meet Up (www.meetup.com). Simply, create a profile, choose your location and numerous groups will appear ranging from walking/hiking/biking groups to board gaming to simple weekday nightly hangouts. Not knowing anyone may seem intimidating at first but once you get out there you'll realize others are looking for friends as well. Also, each assignment has a new hire orientation which is an opportunity to meet other travelers. Don't be afraid to say hello to someone and you might meet a new best friend!