First, deciding to use a staffing agency or book through a hospital directly.
The first thing to do when deciding whether transitioning to travel nursing is for you is to determine whether you want to use a staffing agency versus booking your assignment through a hospital directly. Both options are great, depending on what you’re looking for. When you book through a hospital, you’re cutting out the middleman, and when you cut out the middleman, sometimes it can work to your advantage because you get to pocket more of that money. But in cutting out that middleman, sometimes it may cause you to have to do a little bit more legwork. You will be communicating directly with the hospital; you are getting all your paperwork together and communicating with them regarding your benefits and insurance.
Benefits and Insurance
With a staffing agency, they can coordinate those things with you. And although it does not take the responsibility off you completely, they at least have a process; typically, they’ve been doing it for a while. They’re able to ensure that you are getting everything that you need. Regardless of whether you’re booking directly through the hospital or you are booking through a nursing agency or staffing agency, you want to make sure that you’re discussing things like benefits, insurance, life insurance, retirement, and all the different benefits that people working as a contracted nurse or as a travel nurse think they don’t have access to, but that’s not true. You still have access to these benefits.
The idea that you must work as a staff nurse because you won’t have benefits is not necessarily accurate. Many of these hospitals and staffing agencies still have access to benefits to offer them to you as a travel nurse.
Picking a staffing agency
So, first, decide whether you want to book through the hospital directly or the staffing agency. From there, if you are going to book through a staffing agency, talk to other travel nurses you know, look through different Facebook pages and groups, look through Instagram, and as many different online resources to determine which staffing agency you want to work with. Make a list of what you’re looking for and see if that staffing agency meets your needs. There are so many different staffing agencies, and it can be overwhelming. Talking to someone and getting a direct referral can sometimes be less overwhelming. A lot of times, you can get a referral bonus. The staffing agency may give you a bonus for booking through a referral, and the person who referred you also gets a referral bonus. It is a win-win situation. There is no right or wrong way to do it. It is based on what you decide would be best for you.
Second, verbalize what you are looking for in your travel nursing assignment.
It does you absolutely no good and no justice to take a travel nursing assignment that you’re not qualified for or to work with patients you’re unfamiliar with. It puts you in danger of losing your license; it puts that patient in danger because you might not possess the skills to take care of them, not because you’re not smart or you’re not able to figure it out, but because you need more training.
When booking your travel nursing assignments, talk to the staffing agency and let them know what you’re competent in. What you’re not comfortable with. As I said, it does no good to take a travel nursing assignment where you will be overwhelmed with anxiety every time you go to work because you’re taking care of patients that you’re not familiar with. There are opportunities where you could be trained where you take an assignment, but most of the time, when you take a travel nurse assignment, they are not looking to train you or teach you how to perform the skill they’re hiring for. They expect you to hit the ground running because you’re likely fulfilling a need that they have. They’re expecting you to be competent in the skills that you’re telling them that you’re competent in.
I remember, as a new nurse, the anxiety that I used to have. Feeling like I wasn’t confident enough to do my job. It’s a natural feeling when you start something new. Especially when you are going to a new city, a new hospital with unfamiliar staff, the last thing you want to do is work with patients you’re unfamiliar with. So bottom line, make sure you verbalize what you can do and what you are comfortable with. If you take a travel nurse assignment entirely different than what you expected, verbalize it to the agency or the facility. It is better for you to step up and say, “you know what, this is not for me,” and cut that contract short. You deal with those consequences versus staying, sticking it out, and possibly losing your license because you’re working with patients you’re not trained to care for.
Third, make sure you have a plan.
Visualize where you want to go and ensure that everything you’re doing gets you closer to your final destination or the next season in your career. Though travel nursing can be a lifestyle, and some people choose to work as a travel nurse long-term, it is also a fantastic way to set yourself up for the next season of your career. However, simply making more money isn’t the end all be all. We know that if money were the end all be all, then people who are billionaires wouldn’t be unhappy. Just jumping at any contract because of the money is not a good idea, and you’ll find that just because they’re throwing five to ten thousand dollars $10,000 at you does not mean that it’s going to be what you want it to be.
If your goal of transitioning to travel nursing is to make more money, pay off your debt, build up your savings, or do different financial things, then you want to look for assignments with a higher pay package. Because your goal is to pay off debt and build up savings, you also want to couple that with what kind of work environment you will be going to? What kind of city are you going to? Are you comfortable working in that city? Do you feel safe? Do you have a support system?
You want to make sure that you’re writing down these different things to ensure that when you get to your assignment, you’re comfortable. You can last eight to thirteen weeks, or however long your contract is. A mistake that we make is we operate from a scarcity mindset. We will accept anything that somebody throws at us. If you need money, you will likely accept something that maybe is not the best for you because, at the time, you’re just looking at the contract, In that case, you’re looking at the amount of money that they’re paying, but you want to also make sure that you’re taking into consideration how many hours a week are they expecting you to work, are you able to work for five days a week, and some people can’t. If they’re offering you $10,000 weekly and you want to build your savings and pay off debt, can you work five days a week? If the answer is no and the contract comes with working five days a week, that contract is not for you.
When I was looking for my assignments, I wrote down states that I was okay with going to, cities that I was okay with going to, and cities that I was open to going to, and took it from there. I thought about if I felt safe? Did I have people there that I knew? Was there a church I could go to since that’s something I prioritize? Was it more of a city? Is it more rural? All these things matter, so definitely write down what you’re looking for. If you’re doing this temporarily, look to see if the assignments you’re being offered meet your needs because it is a two-way street; remember, do not operate from a scarcity mindset. There are so many contracts out there, and just because one contract does not work out for you does not mean you’re not going to find another opportunity.
Those are the three takeaways from transitioning to travel nursing that I’m leaving you. Remember number one: determine if you’re going to go through a staffing agency or a hospital directly. Two: verbalize what you’re looking for in your travel nursing assignment. And three: make sure you have a plan, write it down, and visualize what you want to accomplish by transitioning from staff nurse to travel nurse.
Are you currently transitioning to travel nursing, or have you decided that transitioning to travel nursing is for you? Comment your story below.
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