The 5 elements of a perfect assignment

Does a perfect travel nursing assignment exist and if so, how do you find it?  That’s a question every nurse has pondered and every recruiter has been asked.  The answer is unfortunately a complicated one.

Perhaps the question should simply be phrased differently, such as, “how perfect do I actually need my travel assignment to be in order to accept it?”

If you were going on a hunt for a unicorn, would you be so single-minded in your pursuit that you would ignore the discovery of a Sasquatch, an E.T. and even the Loch Ness Monster, saying to yourself, “it’s a unicorn or nothing!”  How many amazing opportunities would you miss out on with that mentality?

The same thing applies to looking for a contract.  If there are 5 vital components to what we can generally quantify as a “perfect assignment”, how would you feel about nailing 4 out of 5 things on that list?  What about 3 out of 5?  Would you be willing to miss out on life changing experiences and unique opportunities simply because “close to perfect” is not perfect enough?  These are the real questions to ponder.

The reality of travel nursing is that nothing is certain.  A travel nurse accepts an assignment and before she arrives, a tornado irreparably damages the facility causing it to shut down.  A start date gets pushed back 4 weeks due to the largest cyber-attack in U.S. history.  These things have actually happened and while it’s not possible to plan for every unlikely and unforeseen eventuality, the one thing travel nurses learn immediately is to be flexible.

So when you are speaking with your recruiter, consider these 5 criteria in advance when deciding if you would be willing to work an assignment:

  1. Location

Is your heart set on a certain place for your next travel assignment?  Maybe you are trying to get closer to family (or further from someone), maybe you enjoy a certain climate or topography.  This is a real factor in your decision so think about it.  If your recruiter can get you a few hours from your Grandmother is that good enough for you?  If you want Las Vegas because you love the High Desert, would you consider Sante Fe instead?  Are you okay with postponing a San Diego assignment because Boulder is also on your travel nurse bucket list?  What are you willing to be flexible with and how flexible are we talking about?  Expect that your recruiter will offer you locations you may not have considered; keep an open mind, as travel nursing is about expanding your horizons!

  1. Facility

As the person being interviewed, you are in the best position to find out all the specifics on the facility to which you were submitted: what will your duties be?  What kind of support staff will be available?  What charting system do they use there?  How the unit is structured, how the department functions, shifts, OT opportunities, etc.  You’re able to question your potential immediate supervisor and you know best what will speak to your professional interests.  You might be surprised by facilities you normally wouldn’t have considered and having that conversation creates that possibility.  You may discover the most amazing facility simply because you were willing to trust your recruiter!

  1. Pay

Some assignments are so appealing that the pay can actually seem a distant second from anything else.  If you have a 16 week assignment in Honolulu, is it really important to you to make buckets of cash also?  Think of it this way: if you were to take a 2 week vacation to the Big Island, you could realistically expect to spend about $2,000.  A 4 month stay where you can cover your expenses and have the memories of a lifetime might be worth it to you.  To get the opportunity to work at a certain facility, gain experience in a new specialty or be in a specific place can all alter the importance of money.  Figure out your financial requirements and rank priorities accordingly.

  1. Start Date

On occasion, a start date is the biggest issue to a traveler.  If you have a family vacation lined up and you absolutely cannot change those dates, a facility willing to work with you is a priceless gift.  There are a variety of reasons why you might need a specific start date; know any time off requests and start date requirements in advance to ensure you will be satisfied.

  1. Getting a great interview

Odds are, you have worked for a Manager who was an absolute nightmare to work with, who made you doubt your chosen profession and even cause you to consider going back to work as a Sandwich Artist.  If you had an interview with someone like that, does it even matter which facility it is, where the assignment is and if they are paying the highest possible wages?  Would you be willing to endure 13 weeks of that to accomplish other criteria on this list?  Or would you consider bending a bit on something else to have a Manager who brings you professional satisfaction, who educates and lifts you up, who becomes a mentor and a lifelong friend?  The interview will sell the position to you so sharpen your discernment skills and consider how the assignment would be for you.

At TRS Healthcare we have a vested interest in setting you up for success, not for failure.  We want you to thrive as a traveler and be effective in performing your duties because that means lives get saved.  These 5 elements of a perfect assignment are what our recruiters look at when strategizing where to submit you and also when discussing with you about accepting an assignment.  Our philosophy is to ensure that the details have been thoroughly acknowledged and considered when moving forward.  It’s vital that you are in conditions under which you can accomplish these things and giving some deep thought to what comprises a perfect assignment, and what would be perfect enough for you, would be time well spent indeed.  As Meatloaf would say, sometimes “two out of three ain’t bad”.




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