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Ten Questions to Consider Before Taking a Travel Nurse Assignment

Or Laboratory, Radiology, Rehab Therapy, or Cardiopulmonary Assignment.

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Thinking about packing your suitcase and taking your skills on the road to pursue this adventure-filled career of medical traveling? You absolutely should.

Being able to see the country while collecting a paycheck sounds like a sweet gig, and it is! But not every day is a day at the beach and a good recruiter would never lead you to believe it’s “a paid vacation.” Unless your idea of a vacation includes working. In which case, we have tons of “vacations” available.

We’re not trying to burst any wanderlust bubbles—we just like to be real with you so you can be ready. Ready to make informed decisions on what type of assignment suits you best so you can make the most out of your career. 

That said, you need to be real with yourself, too. This means asking yourself some questions to find out what’s most important to you. What do you really want to get out of your career as a travel nurse or allied health professional? Having an idea of what your priorities are and communicating them with your recruiter will serve you both well. This is your life, plan accordingly.

Here are 10 questions we think are important to consider before applying for a travel assignment:

1) What’s your biggest motivator for becoming a traveling medical pro? 

Are you itching to stand on top of that mountain? Want to put a specific hospital on your resume? Going for the highest possible number on your paycheck? Think about those things and be honest with yourself about your answers. Know that your motivator might change in the future, which is totally cool. You’re allowed to evolve as a human.

2) What are the top three cities or states where you would like to be assigned and why?


Have a general idea of some states you’d like to see so your recruiter isn’t throwing darts blindfolded—even if that’s what they do in their free time. Having an answer to question number one will help you out with question two.

Why have a why? Because you're only there for 13 weeks, which may sound like awhile, but it goes by fast. Especially if you're having fun. Know the reason you went there so there are no regrets.

3) Are there any clinical issues that may influence your decision on a specific facility?


Do you have facility bed size range or patient ratios that you’re comfortable with? Are there software systems or approaches to care that you are uncomfortable with? These are questions to ask yourself so you’re ready to discuss them with the hiring manager in an interview to ensure it's a right fit.

4) What type of facility would you consider to be ideal?


Do you want to gain experience in a large hospital? How about a teaching hospital where you could work with students? Maybe that’s what you’re trying to avoid—teaching students. Hey, no judgement; It’s just something you should think about ahead of time, so you get exactly (or close to) what you want out of the assignment.

5) What are your two most-desired shifts (in order of preference)?


 Pretty self-explanatory.

6) How important to you is the option of overtime or guaranteed hours?


If you’re here to get the money (dollar dollar bills, y’all), it’ll probably be really important. If you’re in it for the day-off adventures…meh!

7) Are you willing to float?


And we’re not talking about the trendy new spas around town. Are you willing to work other units if you’re needed elsewhere? We recommend it.

As a traveler, you’re there because the facility is short-staffed. If you can work where you’re needed most, not only are you seen as a team-player (maybe even MVP), but you could see that turn into monetary value as well. Float nurses often get a bump in their pay and generally don’t have to worry about an assignment being canceled.

Same goes for our allied travelers—if you're flexible with shifts, you'll have more assignments to choose from, which sounds like a plus to us. 

8) What is your ideal weekly take-home pay after taxes?


Considering that pay rates vary throughout the US vary due to cost of living and other factors, what would you want to see on your weekly paycheck? Remember, many travelers also receive stipends for certain allowances to help with the doubled expenses you could incur traveling for work. You’ll want to factor that into your calculations of what seems like a reasonable amount to take home, based on your overall goals.

9) In a scenario where adequate housing is within a five-minute drive to the facility, but that cute rental near the lake is a 25-minute commute, which would you choose?


Think about how important your temporary home’s location and aesthetics. Will you be home on your days off relaxing? Maybe you want the upgrade. If you plan on only being there to sleep, finding a single room to rent might work just fine.

10) Do you like job hunting?


And interviewing and packing and all the things that go along with a new assignment? If not, you should ask your recruiter about possible extensions at the facility before you head out. Or, if you end up really liking a facility, why not see if you can take off your shoes and stay awhile? The sooner you ask your recruiter about an extension, the better. They’ll let you know how to handle it from there.

Whatever the answer, you can eliminate the multiple profile upkeep with multiple agencies (including Triage) by using Kamana, an online universal profile that holds all the important info your recruiter needs to submit you to a job. With a tap of a finger, you can send several recruiters your profile and know that it’s up to date.

Setting goals and expectations from the get-go will help your recruiter work for you. Having these questions answered before starting the job-hunt will make it easier to get you to where you want to be now and in five years. Start thinking about your answers and then contact a Triage recruiter today to get started.

 

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