By Aaron J. Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert
After many years of travel nursing I’ve met all types of nursing personalities. There are the outgoing nurses, the shy nurses, the confident nurses, the hesitant new grads, and many more that I can’t even name here. In my opinion, nursing needs all of these personalities to keep our world/unit happy.
Too many outgoing people could cause some problems, but too many shy individuals would mean no one would ever talk. A good mix is best, in my opinion.
Now in travel nursing you will have all kinds, as well. But as a manager looking for a traveler, there are certain personality traits I would be seeking. For instance, it’s important that a travel nurse always maintains professionalism with the manager and staff.
Travel nurses have to remember that even though you may be the hardest worker out there, your new supervisor and colleagues don’t know you personally. They could take your easy-going, laid-back attitude to mean you might be a little lazy at work! Especially considering that your manager meets you in a phone interview, which makes it harder to know what someone is really like on the job.
If you’re dealing with a manager who has had exposure to travelers in the past, however, he or she probably knows exactly what they are looking for. So don’t be afraid to ask them what their needs are during the interview and then explain how you can meet those needs.
As I’ve often mentioned, travel nurses do have to possess a certain amount of confidence to come into a new place and quickly adapt to a different way of doing things. But that doesn’t mean you want to come across as pushy and overbearing. Sometimes being the quiet RN who comes in, does their work and goes home isn’t a bad thing.
If you think about it, the last thing that a manager needs to deal with is a travel nurse who makes others uncomfortable with their attitude, or who doesn’t work as a team player. Managers have enough personality issues to deal with in their own staff.
So my advice isn’t that outgoing or shy personality types should avoid traveling. It’s exactly the opposite. No matter how you are wired, make sure that as a travel nurse you come off as a confident and hard worker who will get the job done and not be a hindrance to the personalities that already exist in any given unit.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
By Aaron J. Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
By Aaron J. Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert
I recently got certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The test was long and I had to study a bit, but I passed and now get to put BC (board certified) behind my name. Now this may seem like I’m bragging myself up, but as I walked out of the testing center I was kicking myself more than celebrating.
Why wouldn’t I be more excited to have my new nurse certification, you wonder? Well, it’s because I realized how beneficial this could have been on travel nurse interviews I had in the past. I’ve blogged a lot about phone interviews and tips for getting a good travel nursing job, and my key point is that you need to show the manager that you are someone who can “hit the ground running.” And being certified is a great way to show that.
Being certified shows a nurse manager that you are dedicated to your career. Even though nurses don’t have to take boards every two years (thankfully), you challenged yourself and did, in a sense. Nursing certifications are divided up among specialties, so if you’re an ICU nurse you really don’t need to know OB to pass the test. You just need to know your field pretty well.
There are a ton of study guides out there and I highly recommend reading a study book--preferably the one published by the group that is sponsoring your test. After all, if I wrote a test and then offered to help you study for it, wouldn’t that sound pretty good?
Next piece of advice: take a class. Many certifications have review classes put on by experts in that certain field. I took a few of these classes over the years just to learn more about my specialty. They are typically very informative and include a free lunch!
Also, there are many technology pieces that can help you study for a certification or just refine your nursing skills. They come in the form of apps, blogs, podcasts, and electronic recordings of classes you can listen to on your MP3 player or other mobile device. I highly recommend a couple of these. You can even find some free ones if you search online.
Overall, certification does require some time and money investments upfront, but I know that if a manager sees that BC or CCRN or CEN behind your name, they will know that you have invested serious time studying to pass a tough exam. Most managers know that certification shows a dedication to the profession of nursing and appreciate the effort. And in addition to possibly helping you secure a new assignment, it will also give you something to put on your name tag every 13 weeks other than your name and RN!
So go get certified; it will make your travel nursing interviews a lot easier, and allow you to live the dream as a travel nurse.
Sunday, August 4, 2013
By Aaron J. Moore, MSN, RN, travel nursing expert
There are so many awesome parts to travel nursing. You get to work in the best hospitals around, live in awesome cities, and stay in great apartments. But we all know work isn't everything, and where you sleep is just, well, where you sleep. It's what you can do when you're not working or sleeping--during your time off--that is truly one of the best aspects of your travel assignment.
And the reason it's the best is because it's all yours--you get to pick your city and you get to pick what you do in that city with your time off.
Now first I have to restate the facts: to get time off you have to work, and to keep getting great jobs in great locations you have to work hard and get great references so you look great on your résumé. Since assignments are only 13 weeks long in many cases, you have to do what's necessary to make a great impression while at work. Then, with your time off, you can do what you want and look forward to more great times at your next destination.
Second, I also want to remind you that 13 weeks is a shorter time than you think, so don't wait too long to get out, explore and experience the new things around you.
Time off is all about planning...unless that's not your thing. Because remember, it's your time!
Personally, I loved to plan ahead and group my days off so I could travel around the area and see more stuff. Even when picking an assignment location, I always made sure to look at the surrounding area as well as the city. And I don't mean just the suburbs.
When considering locations, find activities and sites you're interested in and look for those. One of my favorite places to travel was the East Coast, in part because there are so many great day trips you can take. For instance, when I lived in DC we were able to travel to Baltimore, Boston, and Atlantic City. We also made sure to check out local, state and national parks that were within a day's drive. We also made many trips to the ocean and national landmarks like Gettysburg.
But I'll be honest: planning isn't always the most adventurous. So my wife and I always made time near the end of assignments to just strike out on our own and see what we could find. One of our favorite ways to explore was to look for things we both enjoyed and Google ideas. We went swimming in reservoirs, hiked to scenic overlooks, and tried to find local landmarks that we would have never known existed.
One of my favorite adventures was finding the grave of Edgar Allen Poe, the famous poet, and then trying to locate the actual spot in town were he was found dead. It took some looking, but we did it!
Another of our favorite things to do was go to local wineries or breweries. This gave us a staple for basic exploring and led us on some awesome adventures. We got lost along the way sometimes, but without some risk there's no adventure, right?
So whatever you like, wherever you like it, let me tell you that traveling is the great adventure. So get out there, especially during your time off, and live the dream that is travel nursing.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
By Aaron J. Moore, MSN, RN, travel nurse expert
One of the biggest problems I faced in travel nursing was not one of my own fault. As a travel nurse, I found that you take on the persona of all travel nurses. If staff nurses had a bad impression of previous travelers, that could color their thinking of you before you ever showed up on assignment.
Now you may say that judging a book by its cover like that isn’t fair, and it’s not fair to say that if you’re a travel nurse, you must be like all the other travel nurses. I would agree, but it’s basically human nature to generalize, and it’s nothing you can’t overcome.
I can tell you that all travelers do have one thing in common, and that’s that we are brave enough to take a risk and try temp staffing. But after that, we are only as alike as any other person in the field of nursing. There are the good and the bad. And, in the long run, you will be judged for what you do during your 13-or-so weeks on the job.
So, here are some tips to avoid the travel nurses that can hurt your reputation, and, more importantly, how to avoid being labeled as one of “those” travel nurses that could give the field a bad name.
1. Create your own reputation.
Some places I traveled I was the first travel nurse they had ever had so there was no preset impression; I was able to be judged for who I was as a person and for the quality of nursing care I provided. But then there were the bigger institutions that had seen many travel nurses over the years, so it was obvious they had worked with some good ones and some bad. This meant I had to try extra hard in the beginning to show them that I was indeed a good nurse.
2. Don’t sit on the sidelines.
One of the biggest clichés I found while traveling was that there was a perceived lack of teamwork among travel nurses. Some people thought that we were just there for the money. While, yes, it is great that we are well compensated for the work we do, we have to live up to that pay grade and work hard.
3. Don’t be linked with poor quality nurses.
If you are on assignment and notice that there is a sub-par quality travel nurse, you should do your best to distance yourself from that person. I remember one instance where I was hired as one of 10 travel nurses to help staff a large East Coast hospital during a staffing shortage in their ICUs. Some of us were hired for specialty areas and some as floats. (I was lucky to have some great assignments in specialty neuro/trauma areas that got me an awesome job working on one of the best neuro units in the country; it still looks great on the résumé.) There was one traveler that kept to herself and was kind of rude when you asked her for help. Now I can live with that, but when she started making nursing protocol errors that made her look bad, I made sure to distance myself from her and really concentrated on following protocol to the tee.
4. Be vigilant about every shift.
Now I feel that I am a competent nurse with a good work ethic. We all have bad days, though, and its tough to not take things to work with you when something isn’t going well. But as a traveler, you only get a limited amount of time to make an impression. Since most staff know that you are only there for three months, one bad shift can affect their trust in you and can get back to a manager quickly. So always do your best.
5. Work ahead and offer assistance.
Being a team player is one of the easiest things to help your status from the get-go. I always made sure to get my baths done early and try and help others with their work. This served a two-fold purpose, as it let me meet new people and also helped make a great first impression.
6. Don’t call in sick if you aren’t.
This last tip may be the most important and also the easiest to follow: don’t call in sick if you don’t have to. I have a personal integrity not to call in sick unless I’m endangering the health of my patients and coworkers. Sadly, some travelers are known for calling in sick a lot, even on their last day of work. I can’t tell you how many times staff and managers would say “It was great working with you,” or “Good luck,” when I still had a few days left on my contract. But I made sure to finish well.
Don’t worry, you’re not going to be judged too harshly as a travel nurse, and the vast majority of nurses are glad to see you arrive to help them with the patient load. But if you follow the simple tips I outlined above you will avoid being unfairly stereotyped and make a great impression on your next assignment…and that leads to a great reference, which leads to a great résumé, and better and better jobs down the line.
So, put on your game face and remember how lucky you are to be a travel nurse. We are a rare breed in the whole scheme of things. Be one of the good ones and try travel nursing!
Thursday, June 6, 2013
By Aaron J. Moore, MSN, RN, travel nurse expert
Q. What kind of housing can I expect as a travel nurse? Do I have choices?
A. One of the big benefits of travel nursing is the premier, furnished housing you get to stay in for, get this, no cost!! While traveling I have stayed in all different kinds of housing, from lofts to hotel rooms, apartments on the beach, and even one place that allowed me to watch major league baseball games from my patio window.
Here are some tips to make sure you get awesome housing with your next assignment:
First, it all starts with an honest relationship…and I’m not talking about marriage. I know I keep repeating myself, but I can’t overemphasize how important it is to have a great working relationship with your recruiter. Your recruiter can be your best friend and ally if you work with them and show some flexibility.
Be honest with your recruiter up front. Once I picked a location, I would start looking around at apartments. Ask your recruiter where they usually house travelers in the town where you are headed, and most of the time he or she can give you a few ideas of where you might stay. Don’t be afraid to ask for something different if you want. But, don’t get too selfish, and remember, it’s free housing!
It is important to research the places your recruiter tells you about in advance. There is nothing worse than getting to your destination and realizing it’s not going to work for you. Check commute times to your assignment facility as well as proximity to supermarkets, public transportation, and general stuff like that.
When it came to my housing, I loved to live right in the heart of the city. It put everything at my doorstep and allowed me to walk to almost everything I wanted to see. Don’t get me wrong: I love the road trip, but you have to think about your day-to-day stuff. What do you do most? That is what you should keep close by.
I also hated long commutes. Working nights, I found it hard to drive home long distances in the morning. Most assignments I lived close enough to walk to work or take public transportation. Carpooling was also a favorite of mine; when I met fellow travelers in orientation, we used to always compare housing and see if we lived close to each other.
Housing can be the highlight of your assignment. Not just because you get an awesome view and great amenities, but mostly because of the location.
Some of my favorite memories include my four-month stay in a hotel room in New York City that was blocks from everything cool NYC had to offer (which is everything). I already mentioned my place in Baltimore that allowed me to see most Oriole home games. And then there was the apartment on the Bay in San Fran. I spent many a night sitting on my porch watching the ducks swim by and enjoying a sunset over the water. Oh, and did I mention my place in Portland that overlooked a local fountain where local community theaters would put on Shakespeare once a month?
Now not all of my housing options had amazing stuff like I mentioned above, but there was not a single one I could really complain about. My recruiter took care of me and I didn’t complain about the little things. Now if there was a major problem, or I felt like it was an unsafe area for my wife to be alone at night, I would speak up. And so should you. But if you’re unhappy because the place has a tiny gym, or you wish you had a porch, suck it up and remember you can get out and enjoy a lot of things around you whenever you’re not sleeping.
And one important thing to remember: if you research your agency’s housing options and don’t see anything you like―or you have relatives or friends in the area who you would like to stay with―you can usually make your own housing plans and ask the agency for a housing stipend, instead. Just ask your recruiter about their policy on that.
Everyone has their own opinion of what good housing is, so don’t be afraid to let your recruiter know your tastes. Most likely they will work with you, because they want you to enjoy life and stay traveling. So go, live the (housing) dream that is travel nursing.
Friday, April 19, 2013
By Aaron Moore, RN, MSN, travel nurse expert
Recently I had the privilege of being involved in interviews for a new staff member on the unit where I work. It was an eye-opening process, and one that I would encourage others to experience. As we prepared questions and talked with candidates, I found myself thinking about travel nurse interviews and what a nurse manager must be thinking when they speak with potential travelers over the phone.
It became clear to me that a hiring manager has a few key things on his or her mind:
• Is this person competent in the area I am hiring them to work?
• Do they seem dependable?
• How will they work with the other staff already on my unit?
• Oh, and when can they start?!
Competency is a huge piece of what a manager is looking for when they interview you. They have to quickly assess what you can and can’t do. The résumé or application packet that your company provides on your behalf will usually include a skills sheet that you can refer to during your conversation, which helps the manager see what training you’ve had.
And that serves as a reminder: make sure to update your recruiter on any classes you have taken, and, at your current assignment, ask to be included in any training that they offer. Being proficient in balloon pump monitoring, ICP monitoring, or any new equipment that may be out there will only help your chances of getting hired in the future.
Are you dependable? Managers don’t want to hire someone who calls in all the time or has a history of not helping the team. So when I am a job candidate, I try to use certain words that managers like to hear, like “team player” or “dependable.” But be ready to give examples of how you have demonstrated those qualities, and be sure to follow through at each assignment. If a facility reports that a traveler is unreliable, that poor review can affect future job prospects. On the other hand, when recruiters hear great things from employers, they will pass those comments along to hiring managers, which can really help your chances.
Lastly, how do you work with the other staff on the unit? I have worked many jobs over the years and have realized that, while the names change, there are always certain personalities that pop up on any unit. You have to be able to deal with people who are easily upset, angry, or rude. During an interview, make sure you can describe a situation that shows you know how to deal with conflict. You also have to be flexible in a job like this, so let the manager know that you are excited to work in their (insert name here) unit, and will help out however you can.
And if the “When can you start?” question seems a little funny, just remember that you are temporary help and you are being considered to fill a very specific need. There probably won’t be a series of interviews, so you have this one shot to make a good impression. If the manager likes what he or she hears, you could get offered the job on the same day. Are you ready?
If you are hoping for a quick offer at your next interview, remember the manager’s perspective and how important it is to present yourself as someone who is competent, reliable, and a team player. Your recruiter can also give you the inside scoop on the job and help you prepare, but the more you can describe situations that show you have the core traits a manager is looking for, the better your chances of getting the position.
So practice your answers and get ready to enjoy your next great adventure in travel nursing!
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
By Aaron Moore, RN, MSN, travel nursing expert
As I was thumbing through my high school yearbook recently, I was reminded that our class song was “Time of Your Life” by Green Day. I thought about the lyrics of this song and couldn’t help but ask myself: what was the time of my life? Of course the song was chosen by my classmates to help us remember 1996-1999 as the best time of our lives, but as I thought more about it, I realized that high school couldn’t hold a candle to my years in travel nursing.
Travel nursing was probably the best four years of my life. I know, I know, I have four awesome kids now and a great job I that I don’t want to leave. But when I think back to the most fun, challenging, and adventurous time of my life, I can’t help but focus on my years as a travel nurse.
Truly, there is no better job―at least not for an RN, in my book. You have your pick of nursing jobs, by location, hospital, or specialty. You can have job stability and the flexibility to schedule vacations, family visits or extended side trips. And what other nursing job will reimburse you for traveling to all those great assignment destinations?
As long as you have a positive attitude and a strong “go get ‘em” work ethic, you’re bound to find your place in this awesome field.
For a small town boy, traveling the country was always a dream, and I made that dream come true. I lived in some incredible places, worked at top notch facilities, and met awesome people. And to think I only had a two year degree from an Iowa community college and a short tenure as a staff nurse.
So don’t ever let your dreams be dampened by who you are or where you came from.
Get out and enjoy this awesome world we live in. Take a risk and explore travel nursing. While there are no guarantees in life, I would bet my last dollar that you’ll love travel nursing.
Just do as Billie Joe Armstrong sang and have “the time of your life.” It’s easy to do in travel nursing.
LTD (Live the Dream).