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How to Become a Travel Nurse

Everything You Need to Know
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The path to becoming a travel nurse will be different for everyone based on their wants and needs, their experience levels, their motivation and their level of commitment. While we can’t cover every possible scenario, we will comprehensively lay out the most likely TRS Healthcare roadmap to keep your expectations realistic and your experiences positive.

Step 1: Become a Nurse

Yep. A simple place to start.

Nursing is a field where projections consistently state that there is now and will be for the foreseeable future, a shortage of capable personnel. As the healthcare industry has evolved over the last few years, the number of patients has caused a shift in expectations.

There is greater demand for Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners to alleviate the burden on Doctors and that demand filters down to RN’s and LPN’s to also have more expectations placed upon them. In short, the healthcare field, and nursing in particular, are good choices for job security.

There are several paths to nursing.

Some start by becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant, or a CNA, and this can be a great way to be exposed to the world of nursing and see what it’s all about before committing to the extensive schooling programs nursing offers. Being a CNA requires only a High School Diploma or a GED and a certification course lasting between a month and four months, depending on which program in which you choose to enroll. On average, CNA’s make about $11 an hour and will have to do the physically demanding aspects of patient care, such as moving patients, so this is a tough career pathway. Typically, CNA’s do not have travel options available to them.

Some begin with schooling to become a Licensed Practical Nurse, or an LPN (In some states, these are referred to as a Licensed Vocational Nurse, or LVN, but they are the same). Becoming an LPN typically takes about a year and depending on the program you choose, can set the stage for an easier transition to a Registered Nurse. An LPN can expect to make around $18 an hour and will require state licensure.

An LPN handles many of the initial patient interactions, including taking vital signs, passing medications and escorting patients to rooms. This can be a good pathway, considering the bridge programs that are available and help pave the way to advancing to Registered Nurse but you will most likely be working and going to school at the same time. Some facilities will help cover the costs for advancement for LPN’s in exchange for securing them as employees for a specified amount of time. There are travel options for LPN’s but they are far more limited than for Registered Nurses.

Registered Nurses, or RN’s, have the biggest need in the nursing field, as they are permitted to do the most. Becoming an RN will take about 4 years and getting your Bachelor of Science in Nursing can take an additional 2 years, if that seems a better option for you.

A core staff RN in a hospital will make about $26 an hour and will require state licensure to practice. As an average travel nurse, RN’s can make the hourly equivalent of between $40 and $80 an hour based on need and location, making the RN option the preferred career pathway for healthcare traveling. There are other levels of nursing but the more specialized, the less likely there will be a high number of travel options available.

Tips: You will need to pass the NCLEX Exam (National Council Licensure Examination) to qualify for your RN or LPN license. Once that is completed, you will need to acquire a year (at least) of RN or LPN experience before a travel nurse staffing company will consider you eligible for placement as a traveler.

Decide if you should Become a Travel Nurse

It all starts with a question: is travel nursing for me? This is the research phase of your journey and will move slowly or quickly based on how deeply you delve into your information gathering and what sort of resources you have at your disposal.

If you have heard of travel nursing, it’s probably because you have met someone that has chosen that career path for themselves. You can pick their brain, ask questions and use that source to base all future decisions upon.

A few words of caution however; a current travel nurse is working for a company already and based on their personal experiences, their information will be subject to their own biases. While they may not be actively trying to steer you in a specific direction, their honest opinions are still their opinions and may not be reflective of how things would go for you.

This applies to research you do online as well, including multiple message boards and online groups. Is a nurse singing the praises of their company? Ask yourself if they get a sizable referral bonus for getting you into the company fold. Is someone disparaging a company and warning everyone away? Consider the possibility that nurse could be a problem magnet and that you aren’t getting the full story online. Gather your intel but don’t start drinking the poison Kool-Aid without some serious and impartial investigation.

Other sources of travel nursing information include companies themselves; not only can you speak with someone at the company but you can also read the blogs they post and see if you can learn anything before you have an actual conversation with someone there (At this time, we’d like to shamelessly plug our own blog as we feel extremely confident in the caliber of the information provided. We hope you feel the same!). Blogs are informative and most likely include contact info for the author where you can ask specific follow up questions. Speaking with a Recruiter can also yield valuable information but you can be subject to a sales pitch and repeated outreach, so be prepared for that possibility.

Know Why you want to be a Travel Nurse

If you have decided that travel nursing is the right choice for you, you must now determine your motivation for doing it. Are you the kind of person who wants the adventure of travel nursing, seeing new places and experiencing new things? Are you wanting to enhance your resume with the finest facilities, growing and building your way to a great specialty? Are you interested in the higher pay of a travel nurse and trying to either pay something off or save for something special? Knowing what drives you will help you steer your travel nursing career in all the right directions.

You should also spend some time thinking about predispositions you may have that can hold you back from a fuller travel nursing experience. Are the northern states too cold and the southern states too warm for you? Have you bought into the stereotype that certain areas are less intelligent or less interesting simply because you haven’t been there? No one can determine in advance just what kind of experience you might have just by being flexible. Being openminded and adventurous can bring you a wealth of unique moments, as it does for the most seasoned travel nurses in the industry. Consider following their lead.

Step 2: Find a Staffing Company

Finding the right company to work with can be the easiest or hardest thing in your journey to travel nursing. Some nurses like to bounce around and look for whomever is offering the most money and some don’t want the hassle of switching companies, after already investing significant time and effort into paperwork and credentialing. Some find what they are looking for in a company right away and the secret to that is in understanding yourself and how you tend to work and communicate most effectively.

There’s nothing wrong with reaching out to multiple companies but have an idea of what you will need to be in an effective and beneficial situation with someone. Like any relationship, you may fall deeper in love or you may see a side of your company that you never thought possible and head for the hills. The way to find a good fit most painlessly is by knowing yourself.

Step 3: Submit Your Application

The typical nurse begins by filling out an application with their company of choice. This can be an initial one consisting of a few questions or a more thorough one consisting of references and an exhaustive work history. Odds are, a simple application will lead to a comprehensive one later and you should be encouraged by this; a solid work history and references will show a potential hospital how much they need you and also serves to help your recruiter find something where you are most likely to succeed.

In travel nursing, it’s a good idea to have your resume up to date, including the bed number of the facilities you worked with. Also include attributes of the hospital that will make you look good, such as its Trauma level or wether ir not it is a teaching hospital or a specialty facility.

More isn’t always better though so don’t feel the need to pad your resume with every department to which you were ever floated, especially for a single shift. This makes a nurse seem less specialized in a time where a facility is specifically considering you for a travel position in a specialty in which they want to see focused mastery of said specialty. Know your audience when compiling your application information.

Expect some questions from your new company and try not to be offended; the more thorough your company is at verifying your education, licensure, work history, background and references, the more confidently you can throw in with a company that wants to take the time to give you the best opportunities and validate your hard work to a facility in which you desire to work. They should help you make everything look as presentable as possible but keep in mind, they are helping you so be cooperative!

Understand this is a process

Luckily for you, here at TRS Healthcare we do all the work for you and we cover all the expenses! You will have some duties to complete but we handle all the heavy lifting.

Yes, you have references and yes, you hate them getting pestered by random people but this is an essential part of the process. You might be surprised how often your references don’t share the kindest sentiments about you and getting many so only the best can be highlighted is ideal.

If you’d like to make this process simple and easy, begin by getting a reference from every facility in which you work, that you can take with you wherever you go. In travel nursing, this could be a wealth of good will for you, as you will encounter many different people along your journey. A manager should have no problem giving a superior reference to someone who is hardworking so make sure you ask someone who has seen you in action to vouch for you.

One of the things you will need to go on a contract is a background check so be honest when answering the initial questions. Just because you claim your background is clean doesn’t mean a good company won’t doublecheck and if it comes out that you were deceptive, you can guarantee that company won’t be working with you. Partnering up for your travel nursing career requires trust from both sides and if you’re upfront about a background issue, you have a good chance that your company will work with you to determine if it will be an actual hinderance to finding an assignment.

You will need a drug screen, which TRS will pay for and arrange for you. Some facilities require a 10 Panel and some have a more comprehensive test. If you are currently taking prescription medications, be sure you have that list available. If your drug screen shows positive for something, the Medical Review Officer will contact you and go over your prescriptions with you. It should be common sense but please be aware that drug screens these days are pretty sophisticated; using someone else’s urine, or worse yet, your pets, will get discovered every time and negate your future at a company.

These may raise some red flags for some people reading this and unfortunately, this is the way things are and will remain. Being a nurse is a calling and it is a heavy burden to bear. Travel nurses are compensated extremely well so the hassle should be bearable. The strict standards are to ensure that only the best and most competent nurses make the cut as travelers. Drug addiction is a disease and while anyone with a heart can sympathize with the plight, patient’s lives are at stake so the bar is intentionally set high for travelers. This is one reason why they are so renowned in the industry.

Tips: Keep a copy of your transcript, reference letters, as well as digital copies of your driver’s license, social security card and all certifications with you always to expedite the process. If you have prescriptions, as previously mentioned, have that handy, too.

Step 4: Speak with Your Recruiter

At this point in the process, you most likely have already been contacted by your recruiter. As your partner in travel, they will be overseeing the eligibility requirements and will be just as relieved as you are when you are ready to begin being submitted to jobs.

But let’s back up a bit here, as not all recruiters are created equal. In your first conversation, your new best pal most likely asked you what your motivation is for traveling and ideally, you had an amazing answer for them that will assist them in finding something ideal for you! Here’s an example: let’s say you want to travel because you love to ski and therefore have your heart set on Colorado as your dream destination. If Colorado isn’t available in your specialty, should you give up on travel nursing? Nope. Did you know that countless states have ski resorts, even southern states like Tennessee, North Carolina, Kansas and Missouri? Depending on your motivation, a good recruiter can provide several options to meet your goals and needs. Don’t automatically rule something out, simply because you haven’t considered it before.

The working dynamic between recruiter and traveler will evolve over time into a mutually beneficial relationship but that doesn’t mean that the road won’t be rocky getting there. The best thing to do is communicate with your recruiter and allow them to communicate with you. Between the two of you, patterns will emerge as far as preferences go for method and frequency of contact. Some nurses prefer weekly contact, some prefer monthly (unless there is an issue or an active search for a new contract), some prefer emails and some would rather text. Take your time to establish your rhythms and don’t rush the evolution of your partnership!

In this day and age of digital communication, make sure you actually speak to your recruiter, especially before being submitted out for a contract. A recruiter that knows you can go to bat for you behind the scenes, sometimes specifically because you have spoken to each other. One traveler had a stuttering issue that they managed well but it did result in pauses that if you didn’t know better, seemed to be hesitation in answering questions. The facility doubted this person’s expertise because they were unaware of the stutter and thought the traveler just didn’t know the answers to questions. The recruiter was able to clear that misunderstanding up and a successful contract was in the books. This worked because the traveler was truthful and vulnerable with his recruiter and they functioned well as a team. All because they talked!

An ideal relationship is one built of trust, respect and honesty. You have probably heard bad things about recruiters and I can assure you, recruiters have had their share of bad travelers, but if you can get to a good place, it’s an invaluable asset to work effectively together as a team. You may have heard some travelers talk about how they command their recruiter what to do and it’s done and perhaps that’s so in some companies. At TRS Healthcare, we prefer to think of the recruiter not as a concierge who will cater to your every need at all times but rather as an agent, representing your interests and opening up opportunities for you to explore. Be honest with your recruiter and expect honesty in return.

If you feel this isn’t being reciprocated, have a conversation about it. If it doesn’t go well, maybe a new recruiter would be a better fit for you but without trying to work things out, you might be missing out on someone who can be great for your career given enough time. By partnering together successfully, there should be nothing you can’t accomplish as a team and there’s nothing wrong with having an expectation of great teamwork.

Step 5: Get Submitted for Jobs

If you’re ready to begin being submitted out for consideration for an assignment, first of all congratulations and second of all, do you know what that means? Luckily, we’ll explain it in full here.

Being submitted to a position simply means that your profile (the travel version of a resume) is sent to a facility representative for consideration for a position there. The position is likely detailed in terms of the shift and the facility’s own requirements but that is not always the case. Sometimes a facility will forward your profile to a sister facility if they think you might be a better fit there, sometimes the shift is flexible or they need both day and night shift. Sometimes your profile won’t even get through to a facility unless it has been thoroughly vetted by an MSP representative (Managed Service Provider) and they find you meet all their requirements.

You recruiter will be instrumental in not only explaining what they know about the facility’s positions and expectations but also in helping guide you to job postings where you are most likely to succeed. On occasion, the recruiter may not know much at all but as long as they inform you of that, it should be no issue because the point of a submission is to get you an interview. During an interview, you can ask all your own questions and sometimes even be more informed than the company you work for, as they cannot always contact a facility directly and must go though a “middle man”, like an MSP. Submissions have no obligation and are only an opportunity to have a conversation with someone there about the expectations they have for a traveler and if you think it will be a good fit for you.

Some facilities have a bad reputation but sometimes that reputation is because of the amount of work expected by a traveler, something that may be attractive to a workaholic looking for overtime. Some facilities have specific requirements such as distance, previous travel experience or a certain amount of years under your belt before they will consider you as a candidate. Again, your recruiter will help you navigate this minefield and find something that will be beneficial to you and what you specifically are looking to find.

A submission does not guarantee an interview and an interview does not guarantee an offer so it’s in your best interests to be submitted to as many options as possible. It’s a far better position to have several offers to consider rather than a cautious submission to one facility where you may not even rank as a top candidate. Remember, you are not only competing with thousands of candidates from hundreds of companies, but you are also competing with every other candidates from your current company! This is where a good working relationship with your recruiter will aid you, as their guidance should give you the best chance of getting a job offer.

Step 6: Review Your Job Offer

Congratulations! Now what?

You may be offered the position during the interview and if you are so inclined, feel free to accept it there. This is typically more advisable for a veteran travel nurse who knows enough to ask all the right questions to know for certain that a facility is a good fit. If you feel unsure of whether you would like to accept, say something to the interviewer about how you must “talk with your recruiter before making any decisions”.

Don’t feel obligated or pressured into deciding something at that moment. Most importantly, do not decline an offer in an interview or express dissatisfaction with something the interviewer says; sometimes they are trying to weed out candidates and sometimes, you might offend them and be essentially blackballed from working for this facility or facility group in the future.

Ideally, you are submitted to places where you are interested in working so you are leaning toward accepting the offer. Even though a facility may wait days to interview or days to make an official offer, they will not return the favor in waiting for you to accept the position. We usually guess that an offer stays on the table for 24 hours before they move on to the next candidate but even that can change.

It’s unfortunate that the facilities move slow and expect you to decide quickly but there isn’t much wiggle room on this. We suggest that you write down who you spoke to and the number they called from in case you have additional questions; it may be faster for you to simply call the Nurse Manager back and ask your question rather than us communicating with our contact, who sends it to Human Resources who eventually asks the manager only to repeat the process backwards to let you know that the scrub color is blue.

Tips: In the interview, be prepared to ask your all questions so that an offer can be accepted quickly (Ask your Recruiter for our list of specific examples). Again, there are countless nurses competing for the same position so being able to move forward quickly is in your best interests. Know specific days off you might need during an assignment and ask the Manager of that’s doable; try to only request necessary days off for things that are set in stone like a wedding, a vacation or a family reunion. While you will be worked hard, you will still get days off and won’t need to overwhelm your new potential Manager with too many demands.

Step 7: Accept a Contract

If you are accepting the contract, we do a verbal booking agreement to begin with and then immediately let the facility know that you are accepting. The verbal agreement contains all the necessary details of a contract, wrapped up in a few paragraphs. When the facility hears that you accept, they usually remove the job listing from every agency they work with and schedule your start date.

You will be emailed your contract at this point. It is more comprehensive than the verbal agreement but contains all the particulars for your next assignment and should be easily understood. Sometimes, travel nurse pay structure can be confusing for a newbie so if you have any questions at all, reach out to your recruiter to get them answered quickly so you can lock in your position with the facility. Occasionally, facilities do not accept the verbal booking agreement so sitting on an unsigned contract may result in the offer being take away from you.

You will be signing the agreement and a few things for TRS that lay out what we expect from a travel nurse representing our company and all are quite reasonable; for example, don’t post pictures of patients on your social media, don’t punch out your Supervisor, etc. Be a nurse, be professional. Nothing you wouldn’t agree with anyway.

Be aware of a Realistic Start Date

Despite the usual sense of urgency in travel nursing, a realistic start date is based on how long it takes to complete facility requirements and how long a facility needs to have those requirements in their hands prior to your first day. Again, bizarrely, it is the facility’s own requirements which slow the facility down from having you there as quickly as they want you to arrive. It will rarely be sooner than 2 weeks from the acceptance date and more often longer than that.

Some facilities require modules prior to start and they do not consider you a contracted employee yet so they do not pay for these, some of which can be dozens of hours of your time. Fortunately, TRS will pay you for your time in completing these tasks. Ensure you get them done as quickly as possible, as the facility will not confirm your first day information until you do. Day One information consists of where to go, who to see, what to wear and when to be there so it’s vital to your planning.

Step 8: Get your required Credentialing turned in

Our Credentials Department will assign a Specialist to assist you in getting all of your documents and requirements in to the right people at that right time so your scheduled start can happen as planned. These are all based on the specific facility in which you will be working and there is a lot of variety in what each one expects. Your Specialist will go over a comprehensive list with you and help you plan your time frame for getting it done.

Many of these necessities are things we have already discussed, such as education, drug screens, etc. Again, TRS will arrange and pay for any testing requirements for your assignment, to make things as painless for you as possible. While our Credentials Department is there to assist you, be aware that the bulk of the burden lays upon your shoulders and your ability to do what needs to be done.

Tips: Keeping a file folder on your computer of all typical requirements can make this such a simple and easy process for you so please consider preparing everything as soon as you finish reading this article. It will also make your Credentials Specialist brag about how amazing you are, and who doesn’t like that?

Step 9: Secure a place to stay

Housing can be the biggest question you might have as a travel nurse and odds are, it will continue to be throughout your entire travel career. At TRS Healthcare, not only do we understand the value and peace of mind that comes with having a place to rest your head, we do our best to assist you with this by having a Housing Specialist available to help you. Let me stress here, they are there to help you, not do everything for you.

Part of your pay consists of a lodging reimbursement so you will be receiving money every week for the place where you will staying. This means that you are financially responsible for paying for your stay. Our Housing Department will be your new best friend because they will research some options in the area, including some places we have secured for previous travelers in the area, and send you this list.

In order to keep your expectations realistic, keep in mind a few things:

  • Researching housing options more than 2 weeks prior to your arrival is utterly pointless. An extended stay hotel may have someone walk through the door minutes after we call and rent out the last room; an apartment complex might have the same thing happen; there may be a festival where rates go through the roof when you will be there and the rates today may not reflect those specific dates.
  • Your Housing Specialist will do their part but you should also do research and see what’s available. And not just Google “cheap hotels” but also make calls and ask questions. Don’t rely on someone else to do it all for you, as you will be the one living there. Do you want to know if they have laundry facilities? Call them. Do you want to know the pet deposit for 14 dogs, 4 fish, a bird and 3 marmosets? Call them yourself so you can listen to them laugh.
  • The more people and pets that you bring with you, the more expensive your housing costs will be. Your lodging reimbursement is established based on the government’s GSS tables and is set for one person. If you bring enough companions to need additional rooms, that costs more but the reimbursement stays the same. The more pets you bring, the higher the fees (some non-refundable) and only if they will accept multiple pets and specific breeds.
  • Treat your Housing Specialist like your priest…confess the truth. If you have a pit bull, don’t tell them you have a terrier mix; not only does this waste the Housing Department’s time researching things that don’t apply to your specific needs but it could result in you being evicted and losing all deposits. Once again, that is your money so your financial hit. Be honest with numbers of family members, their ages, number of pets (their breeds and their weights), and whether you smoke or not. All these factors influence your cost.
  • Temporary housing is not like renting an apartment for a year or making a house payment…it will be more than you think. Don’t think about how you pay $500 a month for your apartment now and therefore, it will be the same because you will be disappointed. Apartment complexes want longer term tenants than 3-month renters so for them to rent you a temporary place, they must charge you more in case that unit goes unrented while transitioning between your stay and someone else’s. Rather, think of it this way: if you are driving at night and get tired enough to want to crash in a motel room, you can expect to pay about $100 a night, after taxes and fees, right? So why would you expect a hotel to cost you $500 for 30 nights? Like an apartment, the longer you stay, the less it costs. Weekly extended stay hotel rates are around $250-$300 a week, depending on the city. Some places will charge over $1000 a week. These numbers can be scary but you have our Housing Specialist to help you find the best options.
  • TRS Healthcare will not sign a lease on your behalf. We want a lease to be the last option for you but if you insist upon renting a place that requires one, you will have to sign it and be responsible for it.

The good news is that TRS will advance the money to secure you a place and we will make monthly payments on your behalf, if that’s easier for you. Please note though that as it is an “advance”, it will need to be repaid and we can deduct it from your paycheck, if you’d like.

However, we will not advance money for housing unless you have seen it with your own eyes first; anyone can post pictures of a beautiful place online and even if by some miracle, those pictures are accurate, how will you know about the smell? The neighborhood outside? The noisy neighbors? For your protection, we want you to see it in person…remember, this is your money so we are trying to be a good advocate for you by insisting on this tiny step.

Step 10: Set up your pay with Accounting

This call is a fun one, as it results in you getting paid! Your Accounting Specialist will set it up for you to receive your paycheck via direct deposit, each Friday. Make sure you have your routing number and account number handy to expedite the process. Some facilities are very specific on things like timesheets and processes for guaranteed hours and if that is the case for your contract, your Accounting Specialist will detail all of that during your conversation. Take notes, if necessary and treat them well…these are the people who will ensure you get paid accurately and on-time!

While on Contract with TRS Healthcare

Congratulations on accepting an assignment! We know that soon you will be on your way to a new city, to save lives in a new facility where you will be meeting new people; and we know that’s a whole lot of “new” so we want to remind you that we are still here, with you every step of the way. Welcome to the TRS family…we have your back.

Insider Tip: Know that TRS has Tech Support

Lucky for you, TRS Healthcare does not outsource our tech support and we are proud to say that our IT Department is second to none. If you are having an issue with logging in to our site, accessing your documents or uploading required forms, these tech gurus are happy to help, even without making you feel less intelligent for having an issue, something very rare in the support industry.

TRS Healthcare also has an award-winning app for your smart phones that will elevate your travel nursing game by streamlining communication with your recruiter, including real-time information about where the jobs are and what your status is with each individual position to which you have been submitted.

In addition to this innovative access, you will also be able to streamline the weekly timesheet submission, a headache for every travel nurse in the history of travel nursing. You will love the app, you will embrace the app and you will master the app. However, if by chance you are not having the smooth sailing experience by are expecting, again, our IT team will be standing by to assist you in your mastery of this awesome piece of technology.

Insider Tip: Know that TRS has Assignment Support

Travel nursing is an amazing career choice but it can be disconcerting on your first assignment; you may be in a new city, new time zone, new climate and a new topography, all things which can be anxiety inducing and that’s more than understandable. The sights, sounds and even the smells may make you feel like your fresh out of nursing school again, something nobody wants to experience a second time.

The good news is that these feelings will pass and we are prepared to help you get through it. Your Recruiter will be checking in on you, of course, and TRS Healthcare has a multitude of systems in place to ensure your comfort and safety.

If by chance you witness or experience some questionable activity, we have a Clinical Liaison available to you to assist with any clinical issues you may have concerns about. She is an RN and speaks your language so there will be no need to dumb down your lingo; she will understand all the specifics of your concerns. This could be something simple or it could be that you are placed in a situation where you are worried about your license being in jeopardy.

Regardless, we have all the necessary processes in place to help. You can contact our Clinical Liaison when needed or contact our on-call service in case you have a non-clinical related question. They are available to you 24-hours a day and are happy to assist with urgent concerns you might have while your recruiter is sleeping. Long story short, we are always here for you.

Insider Tip: Know when problems are too much

While this is something nobody wants to have happen, it sometimes does and we can recommend some things.

Firstly, ask yourself if you are giving this contract a fair assessment; if you had a bad first day, can you say with true confidence that you expect it will be like that every day? You put a lot of effort and expense into starting this contract and we would like to see it work out, if possible. If you have been communicative with your recruiter all along the way, if you have documented issues and utilized out Clinical Liaison to the fullest extent, then maybe it is time to move on.

Secondly, your recruiter wants to ensure that you can have continuity of employment and a consistent paycheck. You want this too so give them time to explore options on your behalf. Some facilities will allow a contract to be ended early with at least 2 weeks’ notice so try everything you can to stick it out at least that long.

Once TRS has reached out to the facility to modify the end date of a contract, the facility will begin to look for a replacement for you so there is no changing your mind; think carefully about what you can endure for 13 weeks before deciding to restart the process.

Upon learning you want to leave, a facility may even terminate your contract immediately. Maybe you hurt their feelings, maybe they have a replacement; it’s hard to say. But breakups are never easy so be sure you know what you are getting into with deciding to leave early.

Some facilities will also apply a fee for breach of contract and those can be up to $5,000 and will be applied to you. Again, your recruiter can help get that waived or negotiated down but only if you keep them in the loop on your thought process. If you simply walk out, there is no negotiating, no time to line up another position for you and could result in you being banned from a facility or facility group. Work with us on any issues that come up and we will look out for your best interests at all times.

Insider Tip: Decide if you should extend your contract

This is a great question and it really depends on how you feel about the assignment. Are they treating you well? Are you making good money? Are you learning skills that benefit your career pathway? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you should extend. Jobs are a hassle to find and you already have one that’s working out for you; why wouldn’t you stay? Your housing is established, you won’t have to do another interview, drug screen or modules. It’s less hassle to extend.

Another thing to consider is that any nurse can have a travel contract on their resume but it is very telling when a nurse has two contracts at the same facility. This tells your new hiring manager that not only were you the best candidate that facility had interviewed, but you were also a good team member and a good fit for their needs, so much so that they wanted you to stay instead of waiting 13 weeks to trade up to someone better. Extending, when applicable, is usually a better option.

If your manager asks you to extend and you are interested in doing so, let them know to contact TRS and get the limited paperwork in motion. If you are unsure, let them know that you must talk with your recruiter to see what they have in the works for you. This alleviates any awkward situations and can buy you some time in case you want to explore other options without closing a door with your current facility.

Be careful not to wait too long to decide though or someone else might do it for you. Although extremely rare, we have seen a travel nurse get an extension offer after her first day so don’t be afraid of thinking ahead to the next 13 weeks.

If at any time during your contract you know for certain that you would like to extend, be sure to let your recruiter know right away so TRS Healthcare can begin reaching out to the facility to streamline the process. If, for example, you are interested in extending and we reach out to the facility about it, they may tell us that they are not going to need supplemental staffing after your contract, so we at least will know to begin looking for your next assignment.

If you do want to stay where you are, be sure to let your supervisor know also so she can begin the facility paperwork to line that up. You may be a hero to her also, as she is able to avoid the time-consuming process of interviewing your replacement.

Insider Tip: Secure your next Contract

For whatever reason, if a contract extension is not in the cards for you, it’s time to strategize. A great recruiter will already have some plans in place for you as soon as they know so once again, be sure to involve them in your thought process. It’s usually possible to begin looking for your next assignment about 6 weeks out from your available start date so be sure you are thinking about the future while winning hearts and minds at your current position.

If this is only your second time going through the interview and submission process, take comfort that you have learned volumes of information already and this will be much easier for you this time around. Not only as far as your comfort level in being interviewed over the telephone, but your credentialing process will be far easier than your first contract too, as TRS already has many of the core documents that most facilities will ask us to provide.

It’s also a good idea to have a recruiter who can think outside the box to get things moving for you. Did you keep the phone numbers of managers for which you have previously worked? Your recruiter may suggest you call them directly and let them know you are available, if they would like to have you come back. This works frequently when a traveler has made a good impression and sometimes, a position is created solely for the traveler because the facility sees such value in having her back. Ask your recruiter for other ways to creatively work within the system!

Insider Tip: Decide if Travel Nursing as a Career is right for you

While most healthcare travelers love the paycheck, not everyone feels it is a good choice for an entire career. But some do and do so successfully for decades. If you should decide that you are one of these true road warriors, TRS Healthcare is ready to assist.

The travel nursing industry has seen more than its fair share of fly-by-night operations, which lure you into going on contracts that sound too good to be true. Inevitably, these company’s offers were in fact too good to be true and many good nurses were left high and dry on assignment by companies that folded, went bankrupt or were bought out.

The other nightmare for travelers are the churn-and-burn companies which strive to work you to exhaustion until you given everything you can and have nothing left to devote to the travel nursing field. We’ve spoken with nurses so devastated by these experiences that some have even given up on the nursing field altogether and nothing makes us sadder than hearing stories like that.

TRS Healthcare understands that trust is the most important thing to you and we strive to earn that trust with every interaction, every contract and every effort on your behalf. While some companies focus on nurse volume or their own bottom line, TRS knows that a commitment to Nurse Service will ensure our continued success and outstanding reputation.

Since 1996, we have been successfully assisting nurses with their travel careers, during booth good times for the industry and especially during the bad times. Unlike countless companies in the past, we weathered the 2010 economic downturn by being fiscally responsible, with our money and with yours. Operating debt-free since the beginning, TRS Healthcare wants you to know that you can count on us to be here for you during the road ahead.

Reach out to us today and see why being different has always set us above and beyond our competitors. Choose your recruiter by going here or calling 888-987-8233. We are ready to partner with you on your next travel nursing adventure.

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