Soooo sorry for the late posting this week. I picked up extra AND Keaton and I have a bet going on for how many times we can work out this month, AND we did our taxes this week, so I had to re-prioritize my week a little. But taxes will be done Friday (yay for hiring an accountant), I have hit all my planned workouts so far this month, and we get to look forward to some extra money next week. Win, win, win.
I haven’t posted some travel nursing tips in a few weeks so I decided to address some questions I get from people who are interested in traveling, or topics I see often on the Facebook travel nurse page. I hope this is helpful to anyone considering travel nursing, because I think it is an awesome career choice, but all of the information can be overwhelming at times! This is all based on my experience of course, so feel free to ask questions or give any feedback you may have.
- There is a set dollar amount you “shouldn’t go below”
- I will probably get a lot of people who disagree with me on this one. But I think the dollar amount is VERY relative. Some nurses will say “I will not work for less than __”. To me, this is all relative. Location, personal lives, and personal preference all play into if a bill rate is worth it to me or not. I will say I have never made less than double my base pay as a nurse since traveling, but I have also taken lower-paying jobs over a higher-paying offer because of location and convenience for my life. Money is not everything all the time!
- My only caveat: Research the area you will be living in to make sure that you will make enough to cover basic expenses there and at home. Even with my lower grossing jobs, cost of living was low in those areas so it made it worth it.
- You can only travel if you’re ER/ICU/Critical Care in general
- This was a misconception I had as a new grad. I thought the only way to travel was to be this EXPERT NURSE IN EVERYTHING. Yes, ICU and ER jobs often pay better, but there are jobs in almost any specialty you are interested in. There are even traveling management jobs, infection control, and psych nursing. Certain specialties may be harder to find consistent placement in, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there (or you may have to be less picky on location when traveling for said specialty).
- You should pick one agency and stick with it
- It is actually quite easy to set up profiles with more than one agency, and to maintain a happy relationship with all of them. Some agencies may have exclusive rights to a certain hospital, and you can compare the packages being offered to get the best deal for you. Be polite and professional with recruiters when choosing one contract over another, and you should have no problem working with more than one agency.
- My only word of caution: If you carry company insurance be sure to check into the policy for lapses between contract start date and the date insurance kicks in. I ended up without insurance for a few weeks due to misreading some fine print!
- You’re going to make millions travel nursing
- Obviously, this is an exaggeration 😉 But I think there is a misconception that travel nurses are just loaded in general. Keep in mind though, that we have to maintain a tax home while traveling, so we incur expenses in two places to keep our tax-free money. Also, things can come up such as canceled contracts, illness or injury (which you won’t have PTO for as a traveler), or you may want to take a few weeks off to go home and enjoy your family you don’t get to see as much. You will definitely make MORE as a travel nurse as opposed to a staff job, but you have to be smart and cautious to not overspend while on the road, and keep enough in savings to make up for the lack of stability that comes along with the perks of being a traveler.
- It’s really hard to get started as a travel nurse
- Nope. Surprisingly easy (and even easier if you have a good recruiter for your first assignment 😉 ). You fill out a profile similar to a job application, the company sends you any sort of pre-tests or reference forms they need, and they submit your profile over to potential jobs. After a phone interview or two, an offer gets sent over to the company, and you accept or reject the offer. Once a contract is signed, it is a little tedious because you have to fax or email all of your certifications, license copies, payroll information, etc. But, if you keep working with that company you only have to do that once and then for future assignments they have it all on hand. Lastly, you are sent to do your drug screen, update vaccinations, get a physical, and a fit test if required by the facility. The company sends you paperwork for ALL of this, so you simply show up at the designated clinic and get it all done. While the first assignment can be a little time-consuming upfront, it’s easier than starting a new job elsewhere, and super simple considering you get to see a new place every 13 weeks!
Hope these tips are helping! For other travel nursing resources and inspiration, be sure to check out some previous posts: