Nursing, on its own, is a fulfilling and rewarding profession. However, becoming a travel nurse takes it to a whole new level since it allows you to travel and explore new destinations, meet new people, and get paid for doing what you love. It’s an exciting career path that provides unique benefits and is a great way to advance your career.
But getting started can feel a little overwhelming. However, no need to fret- we are here to help you make the most out of your career as a travel nurse.
The demand for travel nurses and where to start?
The demand for travel nurses exploded because of the COVID-19 pandemic as hospitals faced a shortage of nursing staff. The pandemic turned the already ongoing nationwide nursing shortage into a crisis, especially in Missouri, because of more nurses nearing retirement and even fewer employed. This made Missouri the go-to spot for experienced travel nurses. So, starting as a travel nurse involves a lot of planning, and it is of paramount importance to have all the right certifications to become a qualified travel nurse. Getting enrolled in the Missouri state nursing program guarantees a smooth path to your desired success.
Tips for advancing your career as a travel nurse
It’s normal to feel anxious at the prospect of starting as a nobody in a new place, but your experience as a staff nurse will surely help you figure things out. To help you further, we have put together some useful tips that every travel nurse should know. This is your road map to navigating your way through travel nursing successfully.
- Do your research
Doing your research is the most important aspect of being a travel nurse. Look into different travel agencies, their benefits, and the contract terms suited for your needs. It’s also smart to put aside some money to fall back on for emergencies, as having savings beats all other backup plans. Furthermore, keep your research where you can easily reach it to refer to it when needed.
- Consider what area you want to work in
Being a travel nurse does not imply that you will be working in multiple specialties most of the time. Many hospitals seek travel nurses with specific experience. Consider spending at least a year on the pediatric floor to gain experience, for example, if you enjoy working in pediatrics. You can choose to specialize in a subject of your liking so you can travel to various units that require these competencies.
- Think about the certifications you need
Specialty certifications aren’t necessary, but they can help you stand out in your career. You’ll also need to check your nursing license, certifications, heath records, life support qualifications, and any other certificates, such as ACLS or PALS, are up to date.
- Connect with experienced travel nurses
Experienced travel nurses can guide you on what to expect and how to deal with the unexpected. Participate in social media groups or attend in-person or virtual conferences to connect with them. You could already be working with travel nurses on your unit. Ask around to find out what agencies are the best to deal with, what questions to ask, and how other nurses stay organized.
- Keep in touch with your recruiter
Keep in touch with your recruiter and contact them whenever you have a problem with your assignment. Check in with them once a week, and phone or contact them right away if you have an issue with your paycheck, schedule, or housing. Your recruiter can also assist you in finding a new job or extending your contract at your existing location.
- Be flexible
As a travel nurse, you should feel comfortable working in various settings and with a range of people. Because most travel nurse orientations are substantially shorter than standard staff orientations, you must be ready to adjust to change fast. It is a superb career choice if you enjoy change and experiencing new areas.
- Pack light
The most important thing to remember while packing is that you’ll only be away for a few weeks, so only pack the essentials you will need. Bring just the stuff that will help you feel at ease in your new surroundings and leave behind everything you can live without for a few weeks. The less you carry, whether flying or driving to your new place, the less you’ll have to worry about.
- Plan your housing
Temporary housing is an important aspect of your life as a travel nurse. There are options available for all kinds of housing on the market that may make choosing a suitable lodging difficult. Make a list of things you want in your ideal housing and communicate that with a realtor. Your budget plays an important role in deciding the accommodation, so decide wisely as you’ll be staying there for the next few weeks. Some things to consider include location, style, pet policy, etc.
- Pretend your temporary job is a permanent one
Even if you’re working at a facility for 13 weeks (the usual duration of an assignment), it’s crucial to handle your travel job as if it were the most important one. Pitch in and assist where you can, get to know the facility’s administrators, offer to take a shift no one else wants once in a while, and participate in meetings and hospital initiatives. You’ll create a fantastic first impression, and your job will feel more fulfilling since you’ve helped patients and co-workers.
- Have a positive attitude
Stress is an inevitable aspect of nursing, and travel nursing brings it to a completely different level. It can be difficult and frightening. Keep in mind why you decided to pursue this path in the first place to maintain a positive outlook towards it when times get hard. Sure, there will be a learning curve, as with any new journey, but don’t let that deter you from pursuing what may be one of the most gratifying experiences of your life.
Working in different locations throughout the year introduces you to new cultures, experiences, and people, so don’t forget to have fun and make new friends. Travel nursing can be both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. However, you can make it an enjoyable experience with a little planning. Keeping these tips in mind will help you make the most out of your travel nursing career.