After you have narrowed down various Travel Nursing Job offers you may want to contact the travel recruiter at this point via email if you haven't done so already to start getting answers to questions from your recruiter question lists and housing question list.
Start with the your most important questions first. What is important may vary from person to person. You may start with discussing the pay rate and how it works, shifts available, start date , reimbursements then move to more detailed questions as your questions are answered to your satisfaction.
No use discussing getting a microwave or an apartment with a washer/dryer if the pay rate is not even suitable. Be patient but not a pushover. Negotiating is a process and doesn't end in the first call always. Keep the lines of communication open.
Remember it is the whole package that will decide if you sign or not. So if one part of the package is lacking another part can make up for it. Many times though it may be obvious that the package is poor and hopelessly non-negotiable. At this point tell the recruiter you are not interested so they can move on too. Recruiters are limited by what their bosses will allow them to do or what the Hospital base rate is but most of the time there is wiggle room.
There are various hidden perks that can keep communication going like a recruiter and company that is flexible and will work with you on finding the right housing with amenities. Sometimes if you give something you can get something such as signing for 6 months or longer than 3 months.
Use your imagination to make a deal that works for them and you (Win/Win). Sometimes you have to put your foot down and say what your needs are and be able and willing to back off if they don't meet those needs.
Having the financial resources and/or alternate assignments allows you to do this with confidence and less nervous nail biting and sweating. When you are in great need of money and desperate and worried your ability to negotiate calmly is lost.
You may be using Travel Nursing as a way to shop for a perm job so discuss clauses in the contract that may prevent this or limit this.
Ask what the housing stipend is to get an idea on how much they are spending for your housing but this may not be the amount they are actually spending. They may be getting a discount or not. Ask the leasing agent anonymously the cost of a short term rental, then figure in furniture rental, utilities and such to get a closer estimate. Many of the Apartment Search Engines have 1 800 numbers to the leasing agent so you can get this info.
Always have a 8 X 11 paper pad and calculator when talking to the recruiter to write out the entire package with options and make quick calculations. This will enable you to go over the deal after talking with the recruiter and analyze the info more and maybe do further research before calling back again and continue negotiating.
Please inform other recruiters you have been talking to or communicating with if you decide on another assignment as professional courtesy and for the fact they may have a deal for you later in your career. Avoid alienating future opportunities although it may be inevitable at times. Send an email out informing recruiters who you've been communicating with that you have taken an assignment and when your next availability date is and thank them for their time once the deal is finalized.
This is why I like to get to the point and stay focused on getting answers and negotiating instead of wasting their time and mine, which doesn't mean interrogating either.
The recruiter has to please the hospital and talking on the phone is a way for them to assess if you come across as competent person. So always try to be prepared to talk in a private , quiet setting where you have access to paper and a calculator (your friends). If you are talking on the cell phone in your car while other people are present and laughing and you are in terrible traffic on a major road believe you will not come across as competent.
Keep a record of what was discussed on the telephone. With email you always have a record but email is a bad medium when you get to the intricate part of the negotiation where there needs to be a rapid back and forth communication. Make sure all agreements are written clearly within the contract and both recruiter and the manager of the unit are aware of them.
Agreements can be solidified more by having the recruiter agree via email. Email that keeps a record of past communications is handy. You do this by using the same original email to reply with and keep it in a folder you can easily find.
Are the hours per week guaranteed?
While you are on assignment and the census is real low and you get called off will they still pay you?
Is there any floating required to other units? What units? If you don't want to float make sure it is written in the contract.
Is there a completion Bonus? How much? Can you work it into a reimbursement or per diem or into the pay rate (bonuses are usually taxed more than your pay) ?
Is there a renewal bonus? (If this is a renewal or extension contract) Negotiate for this because the facility would have a trained staff and no additional Travel pay for another Traveler.
What type of Unit is it? Staffing? Other Support Staff?
What shifts will you work? Will you have to float to other shifts or do rotating shifts?
Will you have to be on call? What is the on call pay?
Base pay rate per hour? Overtime pay rate? Holiday pay?
What Holidays does the Travel Nursing Company have?
Will you have to be Charge RN? How often? Is there Charge Pay? How Much?
Possible Extensions? What is the max amount of extensions allowed? How much time will you have to be gone before you come back after you are maxed out?
Is there a clause to prevent you from being hired as a perm employee? If there is for how long? Can the Hospital pay a fee to release the clause? Ask that they delete it which they may if they want to sign you.
If you are sick can you make up shifts? Will they deduct for Housing costs related to the time you are sick? Can you extend contract if you are sick for example a week? (some companies won't bother you if it is maybe 2-3 days in an assignment or will work with you if it is more so it is wise to discuss this possibility).
If you extend can you have some time off between? Will you be charged for housing costs if you still want to maintain the same housing? Depends how long but if you have to pay see if you can exchange a bonus for these costs. If you may need sometime in the middle of an assignment for something very important and brief give your recruiter and manager forewarning and come up with a possible plan.
Supplied Car Rental or Car Rental Reimbursement? If you don't take how much more paid?
Airfare paid? How much? If you don't take how much more paid?
Travel Pay? How much?
Do they do the Tax Advantage Program? Details?
Temporary Housing Questions....
Closeness to facility? (verify through mapquest or googlemaps)
Can you take part in selecting housing that they will lease for you? Saying you will consider what they have if they consider what you find. (Negotiating)
Any Deposits? (Shouldn't be or very minimal like a pet deposit)
Will they cover utilities? Which ones? Up to what limit? (Be aware many Travel Nurse Agencies cover everything except maybe phone, sometimes cable)
What exactly is in the furniture package? What size Bed? What size TV? (Bed , Nightstand, Sofa, Coffee Table, Recliner-type chair, Side Table, 2 lamps, sometimes Art) Some Corporate Apartments come with a real nice furniture package because the owners supply it rather than the Travel Nursing Company renting. Do your Research.
Is there a house wares package? (Pots, Pans, Dishes, Glasses, spoons, forks, knives, kitchen utensils, microwave, towels, sheets)
Washer & Dryer? Dishwasher? If not where is the Laundry Room? On the same floor? How many W/D's ? Costs? ( I like to be able to wash my clothes when I want to, No Charge.)
Cable? Basic? Phone? High-speed Internet? (Some places do have wireless)
Number of days you can move in prior to Start Date of Assignment? Number of Days to Move out after Last Day of Assignment?
Which Floor? End Unit? ( I prefer Top Floor End Unit For Quiet & Security but check the layout online for physical problems such as near a busy street, parking, pool)
Central A/C Heat? (Always ask . Remember without it you may need to open windows which invites noise, light, pollution and even bugs or thieves.)
Square Feet of apartment ? ( I've seen pictures stretched on the Internet and people lie about the exact square footage. For the most part if it is listed on a major apt search engine it usually is right but if it isn't you should find out through feedback from other Travelers on Travel Nurse Forums or Apartment Ratings).
Name of the Apartments and address? (With that info alone you can find a lot of info on the Internet and also calling the leasing agent.)
Travel Nursing Company Benefits…
Health Insurance? Name of Company? 1st Day Coverage? Can they email Basic Info about the coverage?
Reimbursement for carrying your own health insurance? How much? ( I prefer carrying my own. Blue Cross Blue Shield which is good almost everywhere. This way I have direct control of my insurance and if I change to another company no hassle. Negotiate the reimbursement . I've received up to $300/month and as low as $125/month . Really depends on the whole package.
401K? Matching? How much? Start Date?
Referral Bonuses? For referring other Travelers and How much? When do you receive it? How many times can you receive it?
Bonuses? End of assignment? Extending an Assignment? Beginning of assignment? Loyalty Bonus or Rewards?
Reimbursement for Continuing Education?
Reimbursement for Licensure ?
Questions to Ask the Hiring Manager…
Note: Many of the questions you asked the recruiter regarding the facility need to be asked to the Hiring Manager too. This is important because they may have a better answer and so the recruiter and the hiring manager are reading from the same script. There is a contract between the Facility and the Travel
Nursing Company that you don't see. This contract may vary from the one you have between Your Travel Nurse Company and You. For this reason you need to verify things. Also if the Hiring Manager is not the direct Manager of the Unit I would ask to speak with that manager if possible. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This will also give you a chance to read that person and their management style.
Staffing Grid? Or Formula?
Shift or shifts working? Can you get your shifts back to back the same days each week or spaced out etc.? (Now is the time to negotiate this and IF they agree you may want this written in the contract)
Assistive Staff? What do they do?
How many Travelers? Have any extended?
Various procedures depending upon your specialty?
Orientation ? Classroom hours? Orientation Hours on each unit you will work? If there are classes to take later in your Travel Nursing Assignment will they adjust your schedule if you don't want to go over hours and agree to let you know well in advance?
Layout of the unit, size of Nurses Station, interview rooms, other necessary rooms?
Turn over of patients? Length of Stay? Average census?
Ask why they are using Travelers and how Travelers are treated by the perm staff. You may want to wait until later in the conversation to ask this one and pay close attention to the response noting any hesitations.
NOTE: Scrutinize assignments that show up on the radar frequently throughout the year which may be a sign that the hospital was not Traveler Friendly at all. Get feedback from other Travelers.
Tax Advantage programs allow you to receive a tax free reimbursements to cover meals & incidentals and lodging expenses or to receive tax free Travel Nursing Company supplied housing.
To participate in the Tax Advantage Program you need to maintain a residence as a renter or owner in your permanent resident location and state with associated expenses and be working away from this residence on a temporary assignment living in a separate temporary residence. This permanent residence is called a Permanent Tax Home as defined by the IRS.
You should have connections to this address such as: Drivers License, Insurances, Professional License, Voters Registration, Property Taxes and other various bills connected to the Permanent Tax Home. It is advisable to return there between assignments if possible, apply for jobs there, do business there, even work there if possible.
Generally if you reside in another state or same state, different location, for more than a year you can lose your Permanent Tax Home status. Keep documentation of these activities to keep the information organized and easily at hand if you needed it. The Travel companies usually just have you fill out a form verifying you Permanent Tax Home.
The Travel Nursing Company will give you a tax free reimbursement per day that you are on an assignment staying in temporary housing away from your Permanent Tax Home (Meals & Incidentals and Lodging or Company supplied Tax Free Housing). This per day reimbursement is different where ever you go.
The Federal Government has a web site:Domestic Per Diem Rates - US General Services Administration that supplies this information.
The rates on this website are in reality reimbursements figured for government employees traveling to, staying in hotels and/or eating in other cities for work purposes. The costs a Traveler will incur on a daily basis may not be as much depending on various factors generally because the Traveler is usually staying at least 3 months and buying groceries mostly instead of eating out for every meal. That could be different if you are on a short term contract such as a Strike.
Some Travel Nurse Agencies may not use the max rate all the time unless it reflects more in reality the true costs. This Tax Free Reimbursement is separate from your Pay Rate which IS taxed.
Some Travel Nurse Companies that are new to this get confused and think the reimbursement is per day that you work but that is wrong. It is per day that you are on assignment residing in that area in temporary housing away from your Permanent Tax Home.
There is no 50 or 80 mile radius rule with the IRS. Those rules are more so rules with Travel Nursing Companies and/or Hospitals to set some standard for being away from home or to prevent perm or potential perm staff in the area from converting to Travelers (Hospital Rule).
Travel Nursing Agencies if they are supplying temporary housing will only use the the meals and incidentals max rate to figure the tax free reimbursement although you will not be taxed for your housing supplied.
If you are receiving a housing stipend instead of the Travel Nurse Agency supplying the housing, the Travel Nurse Company will use both the per day Lodging Rate and the per day Meal & Incidentals rate to calculate your total tax free reimbursements depending on how those rates reflect true costs for you in that area.
Below are some examples of how some companies figure Tax Advantage reimbursements.
Government site reports a per day rate for Meals & Incidentals of $25/day for a certain locale.
They are saying the maximum you would spend per day for Meals & Incidentals is $25
$25/day X 7 days = $175/week $25 X 30 = $750/ month (Tax Free Reimbursements)
Alot of Travel Nursing Companies will also figure it into a virtual pay rate to see the actual value that you get in terms of $'s/hour.
Let's say you work 36 hours/week with a pay rate of $28/hour and you get $475/week in tax free reimbursements (Meals & Incidentals + Housing Stipend for this example)
$475/week divided by 36 hours/week worked
= $13.19/hr Virtual pay rate
$28/hr Actual Pay Rate + $13.19/hr Virtual pay rate
= $38.19/hr (Actual pay rate + Virtual pay rate)
This is only a way to for you to see total value. Your pay check stub or contract should avoid the above language because tax free reimbursements are not pay rates.
If you are supplied housing by the Travel Nurse Company you could still convert it to a virtual pay rate if you know the housing costs + meals and incidentals reimbursement.
If you were Not a Tax Advantage Traveler you would have to pay taxes on your supplied housing or housing stipend and you could not receive Meals & Incidental Tax Free Reimbursements either.
If you are NOT offered the Tax Advantage Program but you DO maintain a Permanent Tax Home you can deduct expenses that are above what is covered by the Travel Nursing Agency at the end of the year so keep a record of these expenses and keep receipts.
Even as a Tax Advantage Traveler you need to keep track of reasonable expenses above what is covered by the Travel Nursing Company such as Medical Expenses, Travel Costs, Mileage to location, Mileage to and from Facility from Temporary Housing times number of trips.
When you deduct these things the dollar amount that ends up in your tax return is not as much as you would get receiving the Tax Advantage tax free reimbursements. That is why people are are attracted to Tax Advantage Programs.
Some disadvantages of being a Tax Advantage employee are:
Lower reportable income which may affect getting loans based upon your income. With the competition for loans these days I would think this has little effect especially if you have good credit. Some banks are friendly towards nurses or healthcare professionals. They consider them reliable borrowers because there is a great demand for healthcare jobs and other factors . The right bank or credit union, good credit and the right loan officer can be more important than the higher reportable income.
Your Social Security you get when you retire is based upon your reportable income. So if you make less reportable income you will get less money when you retire from Social Security.
Solution: You take some or all of the extra amount you get and invest it wisely and have even more when you retire.
Some people just don't want the hassle of returning home and maintaining a permanent residence or being limited in how long they can stay in another state. You may still be able to maintain residency in another state without the requirement of having an Official IRS Defined Permanent Tax Home.
Avoid Contracts where the Travel Nursing Company pays an Extremely Low Pay Rate which is below the norm for your profession for that location such as $10/hr along with the Tax Free Reimbursements. You don't want to get mixed up with Travel Nurse Companies that may get you in trouble with the IRS.
This only a general article and you should seek the advice and guidance of a Tax Professional experienced in working with Traveling Professionals. I've listed some below along with some other helpful websites.
Travel Tax - Joe Smith is the go to expert for Healthcare Traveler Taxes. Definitely read and understand all of his articles on the subject. He also is readily available for questions on Delphi Forums - Travel Nurses and Therapists.
Kobaly Traveler Tax Service - A number of articles available here as well.
Hicks Tax Service
Muret Tax Services
GSA USA Per Diem Rates
Dinkytown Financial Calculators
Pay Check City Calculators
Are you tired of those ever increasing high Health Insurance Premiums?
Are you tired of having to itemize deductions for medical expenses and jumping through hoops to maybe get a little more money back through refund if any?
Then At Least you should look into a HSA qualified health insurance and HSA's.
First, Don't confuse HSA's with FSA's (Flexible Spending Accounts) that many employers offer. You know the one you set aside a specific amount of your income per year for medical or childcare expenses that is not taxed BUT if you don't use it for that year you LOSE it.
HSA's are more like an IRA in that your money can grow and be invested. You can withdraw money from your HSA without penalties or paying any taxes as long as it is a IRS qualified medical expense which is a broader category of things compared to what your insurance will cover.
In order to start an HSA you have to have a HSA qualified insurance. What's that?
It's a higher deductible health insurance with no co pay system for meds or office visits but can offer free annual physicals, OBGYN annual visits and discounted or free services. This requires a leap in thinking outside of what you are used to so read on and consider before rejecting.
First ask your self how much am I paying extra per year in higher premium payments per month for the priviledge of having copays and lower deductibles compared to the lower premiums per month offered by various HSA Health plans?
Is that deductible per family or per person?
What about those out of pocket costs I pay after the deductible is met, which might as well be considered part of the deductible?
There are variety of plans from an assortment of Health Insurers. HSA's started as an option in 2004 so as time goes by you will see more options.
I carry my own insurance and The Travel Nurse Companies usually reimburse you up to $300 a month from my own experience but it depends the total package you negotiate.
The Beauty of it is that your HSA account and is portable. You don't have to move it to another HSA Administrator if you change employers or become self-employed unless you want to, for example, to get better service or get better investment options.
Perfect for Travelers as we may rotate to a few or more of our favorite companies plus it gives us a tax advantage whether you have a Permanent Tax Home or Not.
Travel Companies can put funds into your HSA without having to pay taxes on it. They can offer a Group Coverage HSA Health Insurance plan or you can start your own Individual HSA Health Insurance plan as I have.
OK you say. HSA Health plans may be great if you are healthy and don't need to see the doctor often but what if you do and you are on multiple prescriptions.
I will say Traditional Health Insurance premiums are increasing every year especially if you have a chronic illness and you pay big time in premiums for those low co pays but you have become so used to it that you don't think of that money as a loss.
You really have to crunch the numbers considering tax savings and lower premiums and you will see that you don't have to be healthy to take advantage of HSA's.
Anybody or entity can put monies into your HSA tax-free. Employers, Family, Friends, Yourself or Anybody else that wants to help you.
You can set up a pre-taxed amount through an employer or you can put post-taxed money into it and lower your yearly taxable income by the amount you deposited into your HSA (Adjustment to Income Deduction).
You can spend money for medical costs from your HSA usually by checks they issue you and/or a VISA or Debit card.
If you pay out of pocket throughout the year and have no funds or limited funds in your HSA you can make a deposit or deposits up to April, 17th of the next year and apply it to the previous year to be able to make the adjustment to yearly taxable income deduction.
After the money is deposited in your HSA you can write an HSA check to yourself equal to what your out of pocket medical costs for that year, which is basically reimbursing yourself if you need to but you still get credit for your deposit for tax purposes.
If you don't even have the money to do the above you may need a short term loan from family, friends, bank, or even your credit card for two weeks tops or a month to give yourself a time buffer. Hopefully though you keep money in your HSA and it builds from year to year like an IRA.
HSA Administrators will give you various options to invest this money in your HSA.
At Retirement Age you can withdraw HSA for any reason without penalties.
Not Taxed on money you or anybody else that deposits into the HSA.
Not Taxed on investment interest earned on HSA funds.
Not Taxed on money you withdraw from the HSA for Medical Expenses (IRS)
You can maintain your HSA if you switch to a non-qualified HSA health insurance plan but you can't make any deposits. You can make withdrawals though.
New in 2007: You can rollover funds from an IRA or FSA (Flexible Spending Account) once in a lifetime to your HSA but you must maintain an HSA qualified health insurance plan for 12 month after the rollover or you would have to pay taxes plus 10% penalty.
You can still maintain Vision Insurance and Dental Insurance.
Alot of first time Travelers may receive a lump sum pension from their previous employer. You could roll this into a standard IRA to avoid taxes and maintain control over it and then later roll part of it into an HSA once you have a HSA Qualified Health Insurance Plan.
For more Info on HSA's and HSA qualified health insurance plans:
Wikipedia -Health Savings Account - Up to date Detailed Info.
HSA State Income Tax Guide - HSA Tax Guide Specific to States.
E-Health Insurance - Find HSA Health Plans for your State and Compare
IRS - HSA
Travel Nurses or Traveling Allied Healthcare Professionals work temporary contracts for hospitals or facilities. They work through an agency or as a independent contractor or as a seasonal employee for a facility.
The Shortage of Healthcare Professionals especially in Nursing provides a never ending supply of Travel Nurse Assignments all over and for some time to come.
Some Travelers have been Traveling for 20 years or more so it definitely can be done full-time as a career if you want or you can take breaks between assignments and see the world.
Are the pay and benefits the same as a regular nurse ?
Generally it is higher to attract healthcare professionals especially when you figure in the housing, travel reimbursements, bonuses. Alot of the Travel Nurse Companies also have the same or better benefits than many hospitals such as 401K, Health Insurance provided or a reimbursement, CEU reimbursements, Licensure reimbursement, Life Insurance , Disability, Loyalty Rewards, Referral Bonuses, Completion Bonuses, Tax Advantage Programs, Travel reimbursement, Contests, Extension Bonuses.
What areas of nursing can you practice in as a traveling nurse ?
ICU, OR, ER, Med-Surg , Dialysis, Psych, Cath, L&D, PEDS, PICU, STICU, Home Health, Management, Supervisors, Long Term Care, Nursing Home, Rehab, Step Down, Case Management, Nurse Practitioners, Specialty NPs, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Nurse Anesthesists, LPNs, LVNs, even CNAs at times & More.
Including other Healthcare Professions such as Respiratory Therapists, Physical Therapists, Speech Language Therapists, Social Workers, Doctors, Specialty Techs, Licensed Psych Techs, Radiology Techs & More.
What are the benefits and perks of being a traveling nurse ?
Increased financial reward.
Travel and seeing the World while you are still young and get paid.
Learning new skills and working in different settings.
Expand your horizons.
Freedom to take off between assignments and the money to do things.
Getting out of the rut and always experiencing new things in your work and environment.
Where do you live as a traveling nurse ?
Usually a nice private one bedroom apartment or larger depending on what you negotiate and what you need. Some people stay in extended stay suites which are like studios. Some people Travel in RVs.
Do you have to find your own housing ?
No, usually the company finds it but I recommend you to do searches and compare results. No one is more motivated than you in finding the best housing that the company can put in their name. Some people will take the housing stipend and find their own housing. It all depends on your situation.
For example an RVer will take the housing stipend generally. Myself, I prefer Not having the housing in my name. Your Housing or Housing stipend is Tax Free if you maintain a "Permanent Tax Home".
Do you have to pay for your housing ?
No, you should not unless you are being paid as independent contractor where you receive just a pay rate which is to cover all your expenses and wage. As an independent contractor or subcontractor you can deduct many more expenses which are business expenses.
How long are the assignments for ?
Generally for 13 weeks at a time. Many people extend another thirteen weeks if the need is there and they like the facility. Contracts or Assignments can range anywhere from 4 weeks to 26 weeks and overseas assignments such as in Australia can range 1 -2 years.
Do you get to choose where you want to go ?
Yes depending on the availability of assignments among the 300 Plus Travel Nurse Companies in the United States. There are Companies in other Countries as well Generally the English Speaking Countries and the Middle East. The Department of Defense and the Military Contracts with Nurses and other Healthcare Professionals in other countries such as in Europe, Japan, Germany, Italy etc.
Can you choose any state in the country to work in ? Even Hawaii and Alaska ?
Yes but you need a license for the state you will work in. There is a group of States called the Nurse Compact that allows you to use your license in other compact states without any paperwork. The catch is you must be a resident of a compact state and maintain a license (RN or LPN) there.
For States outside of the Compact you need to apply for their license through that state's board of nursing. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing Maintains a website with links to all State Boards of Nursing websites and/or phone numbers as well as a Map of Compact States. New states are gradually being added to the compact state list.
Many States are "walk thru" states meaning you can travel to their Board of Nursing and usually get your license the same day if your license(s) is in good standing. It's best to contact the Board of Nursing to get up to date information by phone or through their website.
What about a transportation ?
Many people Travel by their own car so it is important to have a reliable vehicle. Some people fly and use a car rental or public transportation when the get there such as in bigger cities where parking can be expensive. Many Travel Nurse Companies will fly a person to their assignment and provide a car rental.
Some people drive their RV's with a car towed behind or tow a Trailer. The Travel Reimbursements and Housing Stipend will usually cover the RV costs. I've been researching this myself but keep in mind it can reduce your flexibility to assignments and how close you can be to your facility.
Moving somewhere new and not knowing anyone could get pretty lonely, do traveling nursing companies offer some sort of programs to get you connected in your new city ?
Yes this is true and something to consider greatly before you travel. I have not seen any company programs myself and I have reviewed all websites of Travel Nurse Companies but there are many Travel Nurse Internet Forums where Travelers connect with other Travelers in different cities. Many Travelers travel with another Traveler for companionship sharing an apartment and saving money or still having separate apartments. I Travel with my wife but still miss home at times.
It's important you research an area before you go there and talk with other Travelers through the Internet Forums who have been there. One person's heaven is another person's hell so take advice with a grain of salt. Also it's important to have housing that is friendly and in a nice environment with amenities which can make up for a lot. I Travel with my laptop which helps me research the area, keep in touch with home, market myself for future assignments. One thing I have learned is that you never know 100% if you will like something until you have done it.
What do you like most about being a traveling nurse ?
I like the freedom, the financial reward, the actual traveling, the challenges, the being able to go places and do things I would never have done or been able to do. Just last December my wife and I went to Brazil to vacation after working in the Virgin Islands, then the Florida Keys and maybe a cruise next or just go home and take a break.
What are the opportunities for advancement as a traveling nurse ?
Actually, opportunities permanent and travel have come my way on a regular basis since I have been traveling. On my first assignment I was a Nurse Manager in AZ which was great opportunity then I worked as a RN Support/Educator for the VA in Los Angeles. It definitely opens doors to new opportunities.
Many Travel Nursing Companies offer online applications on there web site. Using the below process you'll be able to fill out on line applications rather quickly. You may want to fill out online applications for companies that show promise but usually it's best to wait until a recruiter presents an assignment with the details that you are definitely interested in. Play it by ear.
Keep all of the below information in the order listed in one Notepad Text File that you can minimize and maximize when you need to copy fragments and paste them in the online application. I use the Notepad text file because it is easier to manipulate than Word Processor Documents like WORD .doc and the online applications only allow unformatted text anyway.
As you fill out documents you will find Auto Complete Function in Internet Explorer or other Browsers will offer to fill In a block of text you have filled before. Some online application sections disable auto complete so you will only be able to copy and paste or type.
The below information is all possible info you may need to supply usually in this order...
Name & Address (perm)
Cell phone, Home phone or Voice mail
Original License Date (when you first were issued your first license)
State Licenses (numbers)
License of Resident State
Certifications, Expiration Dates
Clinical Experience in Reverse Chronological Order with below info:
Facility Name, address, phone number
Dates of Employment, Job Titles, Job duties
Job type: Perm, Per diem, Travel Nursing Assignment
Supervisors name, phone number + extension, email , alternate phone numbers
References: name, phone number + extension, email , alternate phone numbers
Not necessary to list Travel Nurse Companies you worked for. (Confidential)
Also keep copies of the below documents to scan and email or fax...
Employment Physical (current) (some companies may send you to their own medical screening if so request a copy for future use)
Immunization Records PPD
Complete Reference list
Letters of Reference
Skills check list (make sure it is a comprehensive one so the Company will accept it otherwise they may want you to use theirs)
W-2 (keep a blank copy for that year)
I-9 (Proof of citizenship) (Keep a Blank Copy for that year)
Copy of Check with VOID written across (for Direct Deposit)
There will be other documents that are more Company specific which just require your signature and to be faxed back or scanned and emailed back. I found the best way to scan the above documents is using my portable, usb powered Cannon flat bed scanner (cost me $29 at Circuit City) which came with easy to use software.
I Scan to a multi page PDF type file with high compression at 150 - 300 dpi ,depending, (dots per inch) in Gray scale. That way you have a quality image but not to big to email either. The multi page setting allows you to have more than one page per PDF file.
I have been able to scan all the above documents into one file less than 1 megabyte which is easy to email or fax if you want to using FAX program built into Windows XP to fax directly from the application. Basically you chose FAX instead of your Printer in the Print Dialogue Box then follow the directions from there.
You can also save files as attachments to emails in you web mail such as Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail which all offer free accounts. You could then forward a saved email with attachment if you needed to.
Occasionally you may have to resize documents which can be done at a print shop or even your printer at work. You can also scan the image as a jpeg and then insert it into a WORD document by keying in (Alt - I - P -F ) after you click the blinking cursor where you want the image file placed. Single click on the center of the image, Point the mouse pointer on the vertical or horizontal edge until you see double arrows, then left click + drag to resize and save.
Probably a dozen or more ways to do this. Resizing or enlarging to be specific is usually needed when faxing as the documents get degraded or don't come out as clear on the other end when faxing as many of you probably know. Another thing I found important is to carry a pen that writes in a dark bold black to use especially when people are filling out your evaluation forms as well as asking them to Print Clearly. You'll be glad you did this when you go to scan and may be able to keep your dpi (dots per inch) to 150 which make your file smaller and even easier to send.
I know all of this may sound complicated and a lot of work but actually the goal is to make it easier for you and other recruiters in a systematic way. I do keep hard copies in one folder as a backup if all else fails or I had to fax and email wasn't an option. There have been times I didn't have a phone line but had access to a fax machine and I'm glad I had the hard copies to just load up in the fax machine and send.
There have been times I had a phone line or access to a Fax Machine without long distance access and I needed to fax long distance. Solution: Penny Talk calling card. Basically you enter their toll free number, two commas, your ID, two commas, Pass code, four commas, and then the area code and number, then send. 1 cent per minute USA, Great Foreign rates as well. Usually pretty reliable but occasionally may take a few attempts but a great option when you need it as well as avoiding using up your anytime minutes on your cell phone.
Other options include Efax, MaxEmail and a dozen of others which allow you to Fax through your Internet connection at a charge. MaxEmail doesn't require software to download. Efax allows you to have a number for voicemail that can be delivered to your email and an efax number that people can fax to and is delivered to your email (Free up to a limit). Evoice is another option for voicemail to email.
There many reasons people travel or combinations of reasons. Some people see the need for change to feel alive and see Travel Nursing as a chance to do that. Every decision has risks.
Before I left I did a 12 month Leave of Absence as a back up in case I wanted to come back immediately or before the 12 months was up. Most hospitals offer that option . Some Managers welcome you back with open arms but don't expect it everywhere in reality. In my case it was obvious I was going into Travel Nursing because I had been talking about it for years. Some places will do an LOA but you are not guaranteed the same job.
Some people Travel for the MONEY and you can make Mucho Dinero especially if you go to the highest paying states and work 48hr plus work weeks. Not for me I do fine with 36-40/wk.
Some people Travel for opportunities to work in prestigious facilities or in a part of the country they always wanted to be.
Traveling does give you chance to find a facility you like while getting paid to do it rather than spending your hard earned money to travel to an area to interview for a job you may not like.
As a Traveler you have a guaranteed job to a degree and if after the contract you don't like it you can go home or somewhere else.
Some people Travel for the clinical variety or career opportunities they don't have back at home.
Some people Travel to get away from home or they are burned out where they are working now.
Some people want to find themselves and it does teach a lot about yourself.
Another reason to Travel is you can take long vacations between assignments if you want to. I was off between my second and third assignment for 6 months. I never could have done that in my permanent job. Although I probably won't do that again for a long time.
You have more flexibility to take vacations when you want and how long you want to. You also have the money to afford a vacation or a cruise.
Some Travelers blow their money and that is their choice.
Some people quit Traveling and tell others it pays well but the money is soon gone, well that is their choice too.
Some people refuse to travel because there is no pension plan. Well invest your money with all the extra you make in a 401K, Real Estate, Stocks etc etc. . I rolled my lump sum pension into an IRA that I received from my permanent hospital. For 6.5 years work it was only $5500, less than $1000 a year and less than 50 cents per hour
Also here is another way to think about Travel Nursing. Lets say you stayed in your permanent job until you retired at 65-70 yrs old and live off your meager retirement pension, social security, and investments. You won't have much to Travel on, you may not be in condition to Travel depending on how well you take care of yourself
As Traveler I can Travel the country and the world and get paid to do it while I'm young. I think people get too wrapped up in their tenure on the job and their pension and don't really break down the numbers and explore the real reason they don't want to Travel: FEAR of the Unknown.
That is just one way to look at it. I certainly do not want to put down people who work and live in the same place all their lives and are happy in there jobs and lives.
I just want to make you think. I want you to realize that staying where you are in life is a decision as well even though it requires no change. You should put careful soul searching thought in that decision just as you would into the decision to Travel.
Some Travelers take permanent jobs and then go back to Traveling later or back and forth.
Most Travelers I talk to love Travel Nursing even despite some bad experiences. I may quit one day myself but I doubt it at this point. I will never regret having Traveled though. Whatever you do be sure you know why you are doing it in your heart. Question yourself always.
Check the layout and where your apartment is near to assess for potential security issues or noise and such. See what lighting is available for nighttime security.
Is there a security light that will shine right in your apartment window? Maybe talk to a few neighbors to get their assessment.
Are a lot of people moving out or in? A lot of students parties? domestic disturbances? Sort of be a detective.
Check the amenities out and see what shape they are in.
Is the pool closed? Heated? What conditions is the exterior of the buildings? When was it built?
A lot of this info you can get before you get there from various resources mentioned in previous articles but you always need to double and triple verify. People give inaccurate information and conditions change and so forth.
You may even want to try the drive from the apartment to the facility to get an idea of drive time and obstacles. All of the above shouldn't take all afternoon unless you enjoy playing Sherlock Holmes or a tad bit obsessive.
Now that you are satisfied you can now meet the leasing agent. Be friendly but assertive because they can be a great resource and they will be the person to troubleshoot problems. Make sure they walk you through the apartment. When you do a walk through write down problems on clip board with carbon paper between so they get a copy and you keep the original.
Below is a reminder lists of things to check .
Open all blinds and turn on all lights to see better
Check for bugs everywhere.
Condition of walls, carpet, tiles.
Door locks and window locks for effectiveness.
Bathroom ventilation fan (does it actually have a vent outside ask to see).
Dryer Ventilated to outside (some aren't which can make it hot).
Toilet flushes well.
Good water pressure, hot water, clean.
Cabinets in good condition.
Closet/room doors in good condition.
Has all of the furniture arrived if rented (condition, fleas).
Fire Extinguishers and locations (current tag).
Location of mailboxes (does your key work).
Thermostat AC/Heat/Fan working.
Fridge condition, temperature, Freon leaks.
All cable outlets work.
Location of phone outlets.
Washer/Dryer working (making any noises).
Location of Trash.
Laundry room condition, number of washers/dryers, cost, distance from apartment
Listen to noise from stairs, other doors closing, general sound-proofness.
Ask about maintenance policy, landscaping times.
Location of Parking, visitor parking, (covered or not, important in areas such as AZ).
Ask about closest grocery store and other community info
IMPORTANT: Use your instincts and do not take residency in housing that obviously unacceptable other than problems that could be easily fixed.
Make an agreeable time and date items will be fixed. If you take residency you will lose leverage to get another apartment.
If you do not take residency inform the recruiter on call immediately and the leasing agent.
Make a clear agreement about going to a hotel and that you can transfer the hotel bill to them.
Use your AAA Travel guide for info on a hotel near your facility and that is suitable and affordable. Try to get a hotel with High-speed Internet Access (wireless if possible) so you can use your lap top to help finding another apartment.
Be assertive not aggressive first. Try to work with your recruiter to find a reasonable solution. If that does not work use the chain of command but always keep communication channels open.
It may happen sometimes even after appropriate research. Think of problems as challenges or a game and you are more likely to be successful.
First Aid Kit
AAA Card with VIN number
Poncho/Jacket/Gloves if car stuck in cold weather
Old cell phone (analog) if not on your current cell. Allows you to call 911 without service in places where there is no digital coverage.
Small tool kit
Ice Scraper (cold weather)
Emergency Weather Alert Radio
2 way radios if separate vehicles (GPRS/GRMS)
Eye Glasses/Sun Glasses
Meds including Maalox, Imodium AD (Travelers sickness)
AAA Travel Guide to visiting states
Comfortable/Loose Travel clothes
Separate clothes/items you will need at hotel stops
Address book with numbers of Recruiter/On call Recruiter/ Reliable friends
Contact numbers for Apartment Agent and agreed times to meet
Camera to document your Trip
Rolling Light weight suitcases can help keep things secure/not loose and organized. Also provides for easy unloading.
Snacks for the Trip (Yummy!).
Toilet paper (cushioning and emergencies)
Pillows (they never give you enough also helps cushion in vehicle)
Linens (I like my own and cushioning)
Humidifier (Dry Environment like AZ)
Febreeze for odors
Alarm clock (battery operated) I use my cell phone
Some items that are compact but make you feel at home.
AAA Travel Guide of the area
Small phone Book so you can carry in car
Good Map of the area/GPS handheld like Gorman to navigate
Eye Cover/ Blackout Covers for windows for us night people
Apartment Finder/Guide from Apartment complex/Real Estate Company
If alternate housing is needed (has good maps to see locations)
Telephone non-cordless with light up dial for when the power goes out $9
Bug Spray/ Roach Discs/ Maybe Bomb (Bug Spray) apartment before unpacking
Extra key copies
Small vacuum if not supplied
Light weight Laundry basket/bag
Travel Alarm for front door
Stick to lock sliding patio door/ small saw to cut to proper length
Spices, Pot pans etc just enough if not supplied (Try to bring multi purpose items).