Now where? Many traveling nurses and healthcare works find it difficult to pick the “perfect” travel assignment. Since there are so many different factors that come into play, it isn’t surprising that this is the kind of decision that can really weigh on one’s mind. First-time travelers often feel immense pressure to pick the “correct” assignment as well. Here are a few tips to help you choose your next travel nursing assignment.
1. Determine the Factors that Matter Most to You
While one traveling nurse may be motivated solely by the location, others might be more focused on the money or a certain hospital. It is important that you know what factors matter the most to you before you start applying for positions. Once you know these factors, you can start looking for positions that best match the factors that you have deemed to be the most important. A few of these factors are:
Destinations: Before you get started looking for potential new assignments, take a little time to think about places you would be interested in going. You will want to consider things like the weather, commute, safety, cost of living, and anything else you place value on.
Some travel nurses like to choose locations close to family members. This can have numerous benefits. First, you are near those you love and care about. Second, some travelers can stay with their family members throughout the course of their assignment to save some money.
On the other hand, are there places you refuse to go? If there are places that you aren’t interested in going, be sure that you make note of them and narrow your searches around those locations.
Once you have a few ideas on where you would enjoy living, you can start looking for assignments in those locations.
Keep in mind that some assignments might only look for nurses with previous assignments, so don’t give up home. Get a couple of assignments under your belt, and then you are more likely to get some of the assignments that you really want.
A full list of all locations we currently have travel nurse jobs jobs, and travel allied healthcare assignments, can be found (here).
Facilities: Are there certain hospitals or facilities that you want to work at? If so, travel nursing is the perfect opportunity to give these places a shot without completely uprooting your life. Additionally, you could try out a variety of different types of facilities, such as a teaching hospital, health clinic, and hospice center, to help get a better idea of what you would like to do for a longer period of time. We have an entire department of experience Account Managers, that have built relationships at facilities all over the country, to help you and your recruiter get you where you want to go. Leverage that!
Housing: Travel nurses are often given housing options by the agency. These options usually include corporate housing and a stipend. If you have family or friends in the area, you might want to stay with them, but you should see if this will affect your stipend.
You might also want to consider where you want to live in relation to where you will be working. If you are going to work at a rural hospital, it might be more difficult to find a place to live nearby, which could extend your commuting time each day.
A huge part of going with an agency, like OneStaff, is that we also have a Housing Department, tasked with helping you find housing anywhere in the country. We want to help make the details of your journey easy, so you can focus on the experience and your work. That’s the major value in partnering staffing agency. We help with all the other details involved in relocating!
Compensation: Money is a huge factor to consider when thinking about where you want to make your next travel nursing assignment. Between salary and other benefits, you want to make sure that you are making enough money to make the experience worth it for you. Since only you can determine what you think is the right number of your salary, you might want to spend a lot of time thinking about what you want to make.
In addition to money, you should look at any benefits that are offered. Are you going to make more when you work overtime? How much will you receive as a housing stipend? What are the hours, and do you get any extra time off? All of these things are benefits that don’t always translate into money but might draw you to taking a position.
2. Don’t Get Pressured into an Assignment
Not all recruiters will have your best interests at heart. Unfortunately, many nurses have pushed away from travel nursing after being pressured into an assignment that they never wanted. This creates animosity before the assignment even begins, and these nurses tend to be unhappy in their assignments.
While you never want to get pressured into an assignment, it is also important to remember to be flexible. When working with a recruiter, be sure to state and stick to your goals, but stay flexible. However, if you aren’t interested in anything available, give it a little time. You are likely to find something that you are interested in soon. It is okay to turn down an assignment that you don’t really want.
3. Learn to Negotiate
Contracts don’t have to be accepted as they are presented to you. Nearly everything is negotiable. There is no harm in trying to tailor a package for your own needs. If you work with a recruiter, they can tell whether or not something is a possibility. It might take longer to get the contract signed, but in the end, it is worth it if it helps you get what you need from a travel nursing assignment.
You might want to negotiate things lie housing upgrades or an increased stipend, shift times, start and end dates, time off, length of the contract, pay rate, and how pay is allocated. Here are some examples, but keep in mind it will completely be dependent on that specific assignment at any given time. If you need flexibility, or one item is a higher priority, just let your recruiter know. The great ones will help you find assignment based on your needs/priorities:
- Housing: You might want a house with a washer and dryer in the unit or an assigned parking spot. If someone is traveling with you, you might want a second bedroom. You might be negotiating for a better unit within a shared housing area or a larger stipend so that you can go find a home to live in yourself.
- Shift Times: In some cases, you might be able to set your shift. While the assignment might say it is for the night shift, there might be a way to get on the day shift or vice versa. It never hurts to ask.
- Time Off: If you know that you are going to need time off during your assignment, it is a good idea to stipulate that in your contract.
- Length of Contract: Travel nursing contracts are usually 13 weeks, but you might be able to shorten or extend contracts based on your needs.
- Pay Rate: In some cases, the pay rate is negotiable. While not every employer will be flexible, you might be able to negotiate a higher hourly rate or salary.
4. Work with a Recruiter or Staffing Agency
This is probably the most underrated way to ensure that you find an assignment that you are happy with. Recruiters and staffing agencies are professionals at connecting nurses with job assignments around the country. There are even agencies that specialize in travel nursing, like us here OneStaff Medical ;)
These professionals can help you in numerous ways. Not only can they help you find open assignments, but they can also help you determine what you are looking for in a travel assignment and even make suggestions on locations and facilities that might interest you the most.
While the final decision is yours, working with a professional staffer will allow you to learn more about travel nursing before you accept your first assignment, which can do nothing but help you make a good decision.