After deciding to begin travel nursing, it is important to ask questions and receive information from other travel nurses. In some instances, you may not get all information that is important and needed, especially as a first time travel nurse. I decided to write a post on four things that are not talked about with travel nurses.
Orientation as a travel nurse is completely different from being a permanent staff nurse. Of course there are a few days of hospital orientation. However, the floor orientation is limited. For me, I had a total of 3 days on my unit to orient. For other travel nurses, the time ranges from 1-3 days. The logic behind this is that a travel nurse should be experienced enough to care for the population on their unit. Orientation as a travel nurse is to get you familiar with the unit’s environment and equipment. If you are ready or not, you will be thrown out there to adapt on your own. Always remember to ask for help from staff members when you need it!
When you think about patient assignments, you will think about the acuity of the patients. As a traveler, you are viewed as a strong, efficient, and an experienced nurse. With that being said, you will get the patient no one wants to take, the patient that has multiple procedures that are scheduled, or even the patient that is on isolation for whatever contagious infection. Travelers do get unequal assignments, but with the amount of money we are paid, we take it and go to the next assignment after the three months are up.
In order to take a travel assignment, you will have to sign a contract. Contracts consist of the dates of your assignment, your pay package (including OT pay), your requested time off, and etc. Make sure to clear everything with your recruiter and that it is in writing. If it is not in black and white, it will not happen. From my experience, my contract says rotating shift. During my interview, the manager said I would work a certain amount of shifts on nights then the rest on days. When the time came, it did not happen. I had to go by what the need was. It was verbal and not in writing so I could not get what I wanted. Tell the recruiter up front and make sure you have it listed and approved before signing the contract. Your recruiter and agency can only go by what is approved and signed in your contract.
At any time, your assignment could be cancelled. This could be either cancelled for the shift or cancelled for the entire assignment. Nothing is permanent with travel nursing. Sometimes a facility or unit may no longer need help and will cancel the nurse to keep the funds within the facility. Nothing is worse than driving or flying all the way to the assignment's state and finding out you were cancelled. But it can happen to anyone. Being cancelled for a shift is not as bad because most facilities or agencies pay the nurses for the cancelled shift to make sure he or she gets their contracted hours.