Travel Nursing Series - Getting Started
Over the last nine or so months, I have been asked many questions regarding my travel nursing career ... GOOD questions. Although I have only been on this journey for a little over nine months, I feel like I have gained a lot of knowledge on the topic, because my livelihood depends on it!
With that being said, I have decided to break down the travel nursing process with you all into categories. If I shared information on every aspect of traveling all at once, you would be way overwhelmed. The purpose of these posts is to share what I've done right but also where things could have gone smoother.
Also, keep in mind that things are constantly changing with COVID 19.
First up is "Getting Started" -
Getting started can feel extremely intimidating and discouraging at times. I recommend allowing yourself plenty of time between deciding you want to travel and obtaining that first assignment. DO. NOT. RUSH. Allow yourself ample time to get things in order and to truly understand the process. If you know you want to travel, I would begin the process a couple of months in advance. The earlier you begin, the more prepared you will feel. Take that time to gather information. Talk to agencies, recruiters, current travelers, past travelers - anyone you can talk to. This is a big life change. Not only will you need time to land that first assignment, but you will also need time to navigate the personal aspects of traveling as well, ie: family, pets, your home, car, current job, etc.
First things first, it's time to find an agency. This will not be hard at all. There are tons of agencies and trust me when I say they will ALL be eager to host you on your first travel assignment. Talk to your friends and peers who have experience traveling and ask who they have used and had a positive experience with thus far. This is how most new travelers find their agency, through recommendations and word of mouth. If this is the case and they are recommending a company, they will most likely be recommending their recruiter as well. Another way to find a company is the internet. You can go to any company website and create a profile or plug in your contact information. From this point, you can count down the minutes (or seconds) until you receive a phone call. You may get a direct call from a recruiter or a liaison type person who will then hand you over to a recruiter.
A common question I have been asked - should I use numerous companies?
For your first assignment, my vote is no. It becomes way too confusing and that is a lot of paperwork. Right now you need things to be as simple as possible as you are trying to learn the ropes. Talking to too many agencies this early on can overwhelm you. Let's stick with one for now.
Regardless of which route you take in choosing a company, the first person you get in touch with, which may or may not be your recruiter, should walk you through some basic information. This information ranges from benefits/insurance, getting your profile submission-ready, what the company covers and does not cover cost-wise, and get a feel for your experience and areas of expertise. They will definitely cover things that you won't think of on your own. Someone from the company will be checking in with you via phone call several times before you actually start submitting to jobs. At the end of every phone conversation, it's not unreasonable to have them send you a follow-up email with the information you discussed. It is a lot of information, and it is always good to have it in an email to refer back to.
Creating your profile will be a big part of this first phase of things. If you want to be ahead of the game, I recommend having your resume up to date and several references in mind. From my experience, most companies only require two references on file. I always provide four just in case they are unable to get ahold of one or both of them. Typically, they call the reference, verify that you worked there, and ask a couple of easy questions. Give your references a heads up that someone will be calling, this always helps. Your most recent workplace and a charge nurse/manager are recommended and sometimes required. Besides these two major parts of your profile, you will have to rate your skills in your specific area of practice and upload all licenses and certifications. Depending on how eager you are to start applying for jobs, you can easily complete your profile in one day. Again, how fast you are ready for submission really depends on you.
While you are waiting to be submitted to jobs, it's important to start getting your affairs in order as far as who you are getting your insurance through, a packing list, financials, etc.
Next week, I'm going to dive a little more into recruiters and what makes someone a "good" recruiter vs not. I'm going to go into allllll things recruiter, because having a good one can make or break your experience. In the meantime, drop a comment with any questions you may have.