Answering the Most Common Questions about Travel Nursing
By Megan M. Krischke, contributor
February 27, 2013 - Although registered nurses decide to become travel nurses for a variety of reasons--to find adventure, build their résumés, increase income, or visit a specific location--most have similar questions before they begin.
TravelNursing.com recently spoke to two experienced recruiters to find out the answers to prospective travelers’ most pressing questions.
What are the benefits of travel for my résumé?
“Many nurses don’t realize how many options they have with travel,” began Ashley Schlais, recruitment manager for NursesRx, an AMN Healthcare Company. “There are tons of locations and it is a great way to build your résumé. You can get positions in some of the large teaching hospitals or a variety of big-name facilities, specialty hospitals and more. Often, travelers can float between different units which can build the base of their experience.”
How much prior work experience does a traveler need?
Every client and contract is unique, so prospective travel nurses are encouraged to begin inquiring any time after they have at least 12 months of acute-care experience in the specialty they want to travel in. There are however certain specialties such as labor and delivery, CVICU, CVOR and others where hospitals will require different experience levels.
How much are travelers paid?
Richard Mui, senior recruiter at NursesRx, once got a new travel nurse an interview and job offer in 44 minutes.
“There isn’t a cookie cutter answer to this question. Rates fluctuate based on location, facility, specialty and need,” commented Richard Mui, senior recruitment manager at NursesRx. “The pay rate is only a component of the compensation package. The whole package includes benefits, travel reimbursements, housing or a housing allowance. While travelers are paid well, travel nursing is about so much more than just pay; those who commoditize the industry really miss out. “
What benefits are available to travelers?
Benefits and coverage amounts will vary from company to company, but, in addition to the compensation elements mentioned above, most companies offer health care benefits, 401(k) plans, free continuing education, and professional liability insurance; some also offer assignments with guaranteed hours. Travel nurses can also earn bonuses for referring a friend or colleague, and it is possible to earn extra for working assignments over major holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.
What kind of job stability will I have as a traveler?
“The market is so great right now; with traveling you can be working 100 percent of the time. It is flexible, too, and you can take time off to take a vacation or to go home. But I have a lot of nurses who don’t want to take time off and they can work 52 weeks a year, no problem. We get a large volume of positions in every day so we can keep nurses working,” remarked Schlais.
Mui added that if a nurse is very particular about location or the size of the facility or some other factor it can limit his or her options.
“I can always keep you working if you willing to entertain the opportunities,” he said.
How long does it take to get an interview and a job offer?
“Again, the more flexible you are the easier it is to get you a job,” explained Mui. “My best success story was within 44 minutes of getting off the phone with a new client; they had had an interview and received a job offer.”
Mui admitted that his 44-minute record was pretty unusual, though; in a more typical scenario, it might take 3-5 days for a new travel nurse to get an interview and a job offer. The job might start a week or two later, or several weeks in the future. Recruiters will also work with their agency’s quality management team to ensure that travelers have the proper licenses, credentials and all documentation to begin assignments without delays.
Once I’ve started working, how long until we start talking about the next contract?
Recruiters will often start talking to their travelers about future assignments when they are halfway through their current contract, and most traditional contracts are 13 weeks (short-term, rapid-response assignments can be 2-12 weeks). This timeline can vary depending on the traveler’s preferences and the availability of new jobs. Mui and Schlais point out that it’s always a good idea for a traveler to stay in touch with his or her recruiter to see what is coming up a few weeks down the road.
When it comes to housing, what is provided and what do I need to bring?
Major furniture is provided and there is an á la carte service for additional amenities like kitchen supplies.
“We have a handbook that shows what is definitely provided and which things you will want to bring,” explained Mui. “Nurses need to bring bed sheets and linens, digital technology items and I always suggest bringing one or two of their favorite kitchen tools as well as a few personal items to make it feel like home.”
If you have additional questions about travel nursing, check out TravelNursing.com’s frequently asked questions (FAQs) page or request a call to get connected with a recruiter from one of our travel nurse staffing partners.
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