The phone rings and you don’t recognize the number…is it a telemarketer selling you something you don’t need? A scammer trying to get your personal data? A Nigerian Prince who wants to leave his fortune to you? Most likely, it’s a poorly-timed phone call from a desperate facility who needs your help.
Welcome to travel nursing.
In the previous blog, we discussed how to prepare for the interview and we will now offer some suggestions for things to specifically ask while you have them on the phone. Keep in mind that not all interviews will be the same; some will be a few minutes in length ending with, “Can you start tomorrow?” while others will be a panel of interviewers making you feel like you are OJ Simpson holding a tiny glove. Conditions permitting, here are a few things to focus on to ensure a better experience for you:
Ask about these FIRST:
-Confirm the Specialty
Managers get busy and it’s always good practice to ensure that the position you and your Recruiter discussed is the same position for which you are you are interviewing. Maybe the ICU position you were submitted to is technically a Telemetry position where they may only float you to the ICU on occasion. You would want to know this, right?
-Confirm the shift
Occasionally at TRS we are only given the most basic information on shifts. Sometimes the facility will say they are Rotating shifts so it’s a great idea to confirm the shift during the interview. If you have a preference, you can let them know that but keep in mind that flexibility in a traveler is an attractive quality to a facility.
-Confirm the start Date
This shouldn’t be much different but it’s always good to double check. Seasonally, facilities will sometimes book assignments far in advance, due to holidays, etc. This would also be a good opportunity to ask how often they do Traveler Orientation, if something should come up that would alter your available start date.
Ask these SECOND
-Confirm the duration of the assignment
On average, travel assignments last about 13 weeks, with an option to renew. It does happen though that a facility may be offering either a longer or a shorter contract to you. It can even be advantageous to let the interviewer know that you are open to a longer contract, should that be an option.
-Confirm day off requests you may have
This is absolutely vital to address in an interview. If you are reluctant to bring up the subject because you feel it will take you out of contention for the position, then you should consider either being more flexible on vacation times or being aware that the facility must also be able to meet their needs and this may not be a good fit for either of you. If it is not discussed in the interviewer, companies like TRS are forced to confirm days off through the long and arduous process of approval that a facility employs for agencies like ours. This can delay things for hours or even days.
Just because you interviewed does not mean an assignment offer is guaranteed…your primary job during the interview is to find out as much as possible about the hospital and the floor you’ll be working on. You will also want to get a feeling for the personality of the nurse manager, information on the facility and facts about the community where you’ll be spending the next few months.
A few others things you could ask (time permitting):
– Will you be working weekends?
-Is overtime availabile/required?
-Has the facility used travelers in the past? Are there any working now?
-Are the expectations for a traveler different than for other nurses?
-What is the nurse to patient ratio?
-What sort of charting system does the hospital use?
-What type of uniform should I wear?
-How do you do scheduling?
-What type of patients?
-What level of acuity?
-How many beds?
Is there parking available for travelers and do I have to pay for it?
If during the interview you decide to accept the position, let the hiring manager know that you would like to accept the job IF it is offered, thank the nurse manager and tell them you will contact your recruiter immediately to discuss the next steps.
If you aren’t sure, do not feel obligated or pressured to accept during the interview. Let the interviewer know that your company requires you to contact your Recruiter before committing to anything.
Regardless, armed with this information, when you do find the right assignment, you will be imformed and educated right from the very start.