What is Travel Nursing ?

First Traveling Nurse - Visiting Home-health NurseTravel 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 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.

Travel Nursing Applications - Made Easy

Travel Nurse Company Online Applications Made EasyMany 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)
Address (temporary)
Email address
Cell phone, Home phone or Voice mail
Original License Date (when you first were issued your first license)
State Licenses (numbers)
Expiration Dates
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...

Drivers License
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
Past Evaluations
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.

Is Travel Nursing For Me ?

Travel Nursing Jobs - The Road to HappinessYou may love your job and the work environment is great and you love the area and the pay is great. Then why move?

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.

Travel Nursing Apartment Checklist

Travel Nursing Apartment ChecklistHopefully you've researched your housing thoroughly but here are some things to check for before you move in move or meet the leasing agent.

Drive around the apartment complex and area and look for generally cleanliness, landscaping, vehicle conditions, balcony areas. This will give you some assessment on how the place is managed and what type of people live there. Remember the more buildings and stories in the buildings the more traffic.

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.

Microwave working.

Dishwasher working.

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.

What to Bring on your Travel Nursing Trip ?

The Trip

Motor Oil
Towels/Window cleaner
First Aid Kit
Cell Phone
DC Charger/cell
AC Charger/cell
AAA Card with VIN number
Poncho/Jacket/Gloves if car stuck in cold weather
Spare Tire
Small tool kit
Credit cards
Ice Scraper (cold weather)
Emergency Weather Alert Radio
2 way radios if separate vehicles (GPRS/GRMS)
Eye Glasses/Sun Glasses
Moist Towelettes
Meds including Maalox, Imodium AD (Travelers sickness)
Pen/Small tablet
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)

The Apartment

Pillows (they never give you enough also helps cushion in vehicle)
Linens (I like my own and cushioning)
Humidifier (Dry Environment like AZ)
Air Purifier
Febreeze for odors
Alarm clock (battery operated) I use my cell phone
Welcome Mat
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
Mailbox key
Toilet paper
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).