How to Succeed as a Travel Healthcare Professional
Traveling healthcare can be difficult. Yes, we have all been there.
You wake up in the morning, wash your face, grab your coffee, and run out the door hoping for a “good day.” You walk into your unit, get your assignment, assess/medicate your patients, and continue to question when will this day ever end.
Travel healthcare doesn’t have to be like this. Travel healthcare gives you the opportunity to experience new perspectives for your career and your life. As you begin your journey, here are some ways to succeed as a travel healthcare professional.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE QUALIFICATIONS
Most travel nurse facilities and companies require travel healthcare professions to possess at least two years of experience in the field you wish to travel in. Orientation during your first week can be extremely limited and you are expected to possess proficiency in your specialty.
For example: I had one assignment where I received an entire week of hospital orientation plus an additional week of preceptor floor orientation. This was great! In contrast, I had one assignment that gave me a half shift of orientation then I was on my own. You have to learn to be flexible and already have an idea of what you are doing.
FIND A TRAVEL AGENCY THAT FITS BOTH YOUR NEEDS AND WANTS
There are hundreds upon hundreds of travel healthcare agencies and recruiters who are competing for your skills and employment. Know what needs are important to you and find companies who can offer you what you want. Are benefits important to you? Guaranteed hours? License reimbursement? Paid time off?
There are some companies who will pay more but may not give you the benefits you want, or you may have difficulty reaching your recruiter at times. Some questions you should inquire about when choosing a travel healthcare agency:
- Do they offer day one health insurance, dental, vision, disability?
- Do they offer reimbursement for travel, license renewals, certification renewals, continuing education credits?
- Do they offer paid time off or bereavement?
- Is there a housing department or will you have to obtain your own living arrangements?
- Know your minimum pay package and see what they have to offer for assignments?
- Do they pay weekly or biweekly?
- Will they cover your background check, drug screening, tuberculosis testing?
FIND A RECRUITER THAT YOU CAN TRUST WHILE ON ASSIGNMENT
You can find the perfect company and still have a pretty lousy recruiter overseeing your contract assignment. Your recruiter is your liaison while you are on assignment away from home. This person needs to be someone you can trust.
Not everyone is going to have your best interest at heart, and you may not feel a connection with your recruiter. This happens to everyone, including me! You should never feel like you can’t ask for a different recruiter within the same company or decide to find another travel healthcare agency once your contract is finished.
READ YOUR CONTRACT VERY CAREFULLY
It’s important to ready your contract carefully to ensure you understand its limitations and requirements.
For example: If you interview for night shift, make sure your contract states that you are only working night shift. If you were told you were guaranteed hours, then your contract should state that you are guaranteed hours.
If there is something you are not willing to do, make sure your recruiter includes it in your contract. This can include vacation time, on call pay, pay breakdown, selected shifts, and guaranteed hours.
UNDERSTAND AND ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR LIMITATIONS
The hospitals want you and need your help. Offering services that you are not confident in will not only place patients at risk, but also your license. If you are a day shift nurse and agree to take a night shift position knowing that you will be unable to fulfill that promise, then it may leave you with a bad reputation with the hospital and your agency.
If you are on assignment and asked to care for patient that is outside of your scope of practice or you are not confident in then speak up and let the floor know your comfort level within the unit.
DON’T GIVE UP AND LEAVE YOUR FIRST ASSIGNMENT
Being away from home for the first time can be scary when you are alone and without your friends. You may start to question your decisions and why you become a travel healthcare professional in the first place.
It’s important to remember that an assignment is only for 13 weeks. Be confident that you are one of the best out there and deserve the travel, excitement, and freedom this career brings.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE FRIENDS AND BE OPEN TO EXPLORING
I have met some of my closest friends while traveling between assignments and have kept in touch with most of them over the years. It is great to make friends who know the area and can show you around to the local attractions and restaurants. Not to mention, work is always better when you are there with your friends.
There are beautiful locations located throughout the world. You make the decision to work near a beach, major city, mountains, or rural areas. Take time between assignments to enjoy a nice road trip to your next destination. Stop in different cities and enjoy what they have to offer. Get to know the country and experience priceless moments.