As a travel nurse, it’s important to remember that your next travel nurse contract search is never going to be far in the future.
It’s generally at about week 6 of my Travel Nurse Contract – 8 weeks left; that I begin to explore my options for the next travel nurse contract.
There is a certain process and timing that I go through when on contract. Yours may be similar, totally different or perhaps you are a new traveler and don’t even know where to start. I’ve mentioned before that there is an acclimation phase to the start of every contract. Everyone acclimates differently and on a different time frame.
Generally speaking; by week 6 (with 8 weeks left on contract) most travelers have acclimated to the hospital environment and are beginning to explore and have some fun outside of work. If you’re not….GET OUT of the apartment and explore!!
But what about the planning the next travel Nurse Contract?
Do you want to stay where you are? Are there openings? Hate the location or facility and want to search out something new? Perhaps you have realized that Travel Nursing isn’t for you….you’re ready to go back to a staff position? Now is the time for you to start asking yourself these questions.
There is no one ‘right’ answer for the above questions. It’s all about how the job position ‘fits’ you. Begin looking at the job and determine if it’s a good fit for you. There are no decisions that need to be made at this point. Right now, I just want you to be aware of the upcoming job search. I guess, you could consider this a ‘friendly reminder’ that you need to always be looking a bit into the future.
Here are a few questions to keep in mind:
- Are there opportunities to extend where I am currently?
- Do I like the job/location well enough to extend?
- Do I want to continue Travel Nursing?
- Are there any Life Events coming up that would occur during the next contract? Anything that might require you to be in a certain area of the country or perhaps off contract?
- Are there enough local activities to keep you entertained if you extended?
- Where do you ‘want’ to go next?
During the next few weeks you should have given these questions some thought and have a general idea which direction you want to go for your next travel nurse contract. I recommend that you touch base with your recruiter as well and give them some ‘vague’ updates i.e. “I really like it here and MIGHT consider an extension” or “I’m really looking forward to working with you on the next contract and ___ Sounds like a great area to explore next”. You might also start looking through the job postings and investigating hospitals on our Travel Nurse Network Group.
Start obtaining References
Obtain a reference (or two). By this time, your manager and co-workers should have a good feel for the type of work you perform. If you have picked up an extra shift or went above and beyond in some way…this will only help your cause. Obtain a personal reference. I normally attempt to obtain a reference from a direct co-worker or supervisor (someone that actually works with me) as well as from my manager.
I utilize a generic ‘reference’ form that I simply make copies of. It’s a 1-5 rating on items like attendance, attention to detail, professionalism, clinical knowledge, etc. At the bottom of the form, there is room for comments and I encourage this section to be filled out. Nothing is better than a personal statement about your work performance. The form also includes the Hospital Name, Address, contact info as well as the name and title of the person filling out the form. I inform the person filling it out that this is for ‘my personal records’ and that the Staffing agency will likely have them fill out an evaluation for the agency.
These references are a valuable addition to your travel nurse portfolio. Hold onto them and keep them up to date.
The current market is staffing about 2-4 weeks out but there are the occasional contracts that finalize earlier than this, so it’s never to early to start looking. So, keep these questions in the back of your mind and give them some thought while you’re searching out the best Cupcakes in town or deciding if you have the nerve to jump out of that airplane and skydive for the first time!