Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Travel Nursing Over the Holidays Can Be Fun

By Aaron Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert

I don’t know about you, but I could never get a travel nursing contract that would allow me to go home over the holidays. This challenged me in my first year, as I was away for the winter holiday months. But after spending my first Christmas on assignment, I realized that celebrating the holidays as a travel nurse can be just as fun as one at home.

Why working the holidays as a travel nurse can be enjoyable:

Reason No. 1:
Holiday pay differential! Working on the holidays does amount to a different pay scale and should be an important consideration for any travel nurse. I remember one assignment that offered a $1,000 bonus if you worked all the major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve/Day, and New Year’s Eve/Day). If you are ever offered this option, strongly consider it – at least once in your nursing career.

Since my wife was traveling with me, we decided to rearrange our schedules and both work nights, leaving our days available for celebration. Although it wasn’t a traditional holiday season for us that year, we made the most of it—and even had our very own Charlie Brown tree!

Reason No. 2:
Who says you can’t bring your family to you? One year, I had my parents come visit me on an assignment in San Diego. We had a great time outside on Christmas Day, walking the beach and enjoying a warm sunset. My dad later told me it was a great Christmas because where I’m from we usually have several inches of snow on the ground.

Another year, my family got together for the New Year’s holiday in Nashville. I did have to work, but I planned accordingly and was up spending the whole day enjoying college football and indoor fireworks at the Gaylord Hotel! So, plan wisely and bring your family out to visit you; trust me, it can be just as good as going home.

Reason No. 3:
If you travel to a larger area over the holidays, you may work with other travelers who are in the same boat as you. And that’s when travel nurses should unite. My first Thanksgiving as a traveler I spent on the beach with five other travel nurses, deep-frying a turkey and surfing. That same night, we all went in and worked our 12-hour night shifts and had a blast eating leftovers.

Then, when Christmas came, we all got together again and went out in the morning to a karaoke bar after our shift to celebrate the holiday together. I made some great friends that year; some that I still stay in touch with today.

When you have a group of people going through the same thing at the same time, you grow pretty close in a short amount of time. I always looked at my fellow travelers as my extended family and that made holidays less lonely. Plus, my traveler family understands what it’s like to work 12-hour nights and then go out for buffet-style breakfast on New Year’s morning!

Don’t let one holiday (or two) away from home stop you from being a traveling nurse. I spent many holiday seasons away from home traveling, and I enjoyed every one for different reasons. The memories I made traveling make for great stories today, when I’m sitting with my kids and parents on different holidays. In fact, a picture of that Charlie Brown tree still hangs proudly from our tree as an ornament memory of great Christmases long ago!

I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything. They are the true reason travel nursing is so great – seeing how other people live, experiencing new things, and making new friends and extended family members.

Do You Have a Question About Travel Nursing?
Ask Aaron, our seasoned traveler, today!
Or apply now to get started on a travel nursing assignment.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Making Memories Out of History

By Aaron Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert

With September 11th approaching, one can’t help but think about two things. First, where were you when the towers fell? And second, a look at what the day stands for—a day that is now formally called Patriot’s Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance.

I remember I was in nursing school and they almost cancelled classes, but held them anyway. As we watched all the first responders go in, it made you proud of the nursing profession. I would later know exactly what the nurses went through that day.

A few years later, a travel nursing assignment brought me to New York University Hospital. From the windows of the ICU you could clearly see where the towers once stood – yes, they were that close. As I got to know the nurses on staff, they all had unique stories of seeing it firsthand or being called in to help with potential mass casualties. It was powerful and surreal to hear what they went through. It made me proud to be a part of their team and to work for this wonderful country. And I never would have met any of them if not for my recruiter and travel nursing company.

There are few careers that allow you the freedom that travel nursing does. In travel nursing, you get 13-week assignments, mostly, and there’s a lot of flexibility. You get the time to explore not only the touristy attractions but to meet the locals and feel what it’s like to live somewhere other than “home.” I’ve lived in all parts of the country and never felt like a tourist by the time I left an assignment.

In fact, I’m the go-to reference for friends and family who are going somewhere that I once lived on an assignment. I’m happy to give advice because that’s all part of the journey—sharing it with someone. But I have to say that living in the Northeast and South really were highlights for me. Not only was I in awe when I visited Ground Zero, but I’ve seen our country’s war-torn history at Gettysburg and visited museums that made me laugh and cry.

Travel nursing has not only given me the opportunity to visit historical sites and a variety of places, but I’ve met distant relatives and had dinner with people I didn’t even know existed until my parents said, “Hey, your Great Uncle Bob’s family lives in Oregon, you should look him up.” I’ve visited memories of my family’s past, and saw the places they laid others to rest.

That’s what travel nursing gives nurses—it allows you to move about freely and safely from state to state. You can turn every assignment into an opportunity to connect with the people, places and events that formed them.

So on this national day of remembrance, think about your past and our country’s past. How has your life changed since September 11, 2001, and what does your future hold?

Do You Have a Question About Travel Nursing?
Ask Aaron, our seasoned traveler, today!
Or apply now to get started on a travel nursing assignment.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Crossing State Lines as a Travel Nurse

It’s never been easier to work in multiple states than it is right now in travel nursing

By Aaron J. Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert

I get asked all the time about crossing state lines and I’m here to ease any trepidations about that process – it’s easy and extremely important for a travel nurse to factor into decision-making. If you are like me, you look back on your initial NCLEX exam and think, “I’m not going through that again!” Well, luckily there is no test required to move from state to state, but there is some legwork involved.

In my career in travel, I’ve held six different nursing licenses and I’ve only had to work with one amazing recruiter named Lance. Much like a guide on your first European vacation, recruiters can navigate you through the confusing and new spots of traveling until you get your bearings. Since my first assignment was in California, I learned a lot about temporary and permanent licenses – and that not all states have these. Nursing licenses take longer in some states than others, but recruiters can help you cut through the red tape, and give you an idea how long you can expect to wait for a new license.

Now, the news gets better if your initial nursing license is in one of the following states: Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Wisconsin, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, or Maine; you are able to work in any of these states without applying for separate licenses. That’s right, one license will let you work in 24 states—and Montana will make it 25 starting October 1--because they are all part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC).

The number of compact states has expanded a lot over the years, and that is incredibly beneficial for any travel nurse. You can start assignments faster and expand your career options by region and setting. To learn more about the Nurse Licensure Compact, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) website.

Another great resource to turn to is an organization and website called Nursys ( This database provides licensure and disciplinary information of all licensed RNs and LPNs. The public can access this information for free, but if you want to upload your personal information (to keep your paperwork in one place), there is a small fee you can pay to do that.

Overall, getting a license in another state is not meant to be hard. Clean background checks, planning ahead (having the needed paperwork) and updated photos of yourself will help your licensing journey a lot. And, most importantly, talk to your travel nursing recruiter: they are experts and can get you going in the right direction.

Put all that hard work to use and explore the country in a way only travel nurses can!

Want to Learn More About Travel Nursing?
Ask Aaron -- our seasoned traveler! You can also find answers to frequently asked questions on our FAQ page, or request a call from a nurse recruiter with one of NurseZone’s staffing partners.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Staying Fit on the Road

By Aaron Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert

Exercise and fitness are experiencing a huge resurgence in popular culture. Thanks to technology breakthroughs and the expansion of gyms and fitness programs, we find ourselves exposed to it every day. And I think that’s a good thing. Obesity is a major problem in our society, after all, and as nurses we see and deal with the consequences of it on a daily basis.

Personal fitness can help us feel better and do our jobs better, but it can be challenging for travel nurses and even vacationing nurses to achieve when they are on the road. So if you’re interested in working out like I am, here are my top three ways to stay in shape while traveling:

1. Run. I enjoy running; not only can it help you explore your new neighborhood, but running is a cheap sport. Shoes and clothes are all you really need, and you probably have something suitable already. So add an iPod or smartphone with music, and you’re set to go. With all the map apps and websites available, you can find routes near you, no matter where you are!

2. Join a gym. You can try national chains; let them know about your travel situation when you ask about membership. They may let you transfer your membership from place to place, or use the facilities in different locations. Most of the big chains probably have a gym near you. CrossFit has also become extremely popular, and the locally-owned gyms usually have start-up, low cost options and multiple class times. Some local gyms in your assignment locations may have month-to-month memberships that you can try, as well.

3. Try a home gym. This can differ from place to place; as a traveler, I always had an apartment with some sort of gym. Not all apartment and hotel gyms are created equal, however, so you do need an alternative (see option 1 above). I also believe in home workouts when you can’t make it to the gym. I use a kettle bell, which is cheap and easy to pack in the car. And so many lifts can be done using body weight and are amazing workouts if you do them right: push-ups, pull-ups and squats, to name a few. Then there is the TV/video option. Many home workout tapes actually work, so investing in one might be a good idea when you’re on the road.

Overall, moderation is key. I used all the options listed above and they kept my fitness routine well-rounded. I also found that making exercise part of your day—kind of like brushing your teeth—forces you to get out there and do it even when you don’t want to. Finding someone to exercise with you and hold you accountable can really help, too, and it’s a great way to meet new people while traveling.

So lace up those running shoes and go for it. Then call your recruiter and look for an awesome place to go on assignment later this summer or fall. There are plenty more trails and adventures to discover.

Do You Have a Question About Travel Nursing?
Submit a question to Aaron, our travel nursing expert, today.
Or apply now to get started on a travel nursing assignment.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Equanimity: Is It Possible?

By Aaron Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert

I am not usually a word-of-the-day type of person, but I recently discovered “equanimity” and have since loved to use it. To me, this word can really apply to the life of a nurse.

Equanimity comes from the Latin word aequanimitas, meaning even-minded. The definition I like best is “a habit of mind that is only rarely disturbed under great strain.” Does that describe the nurses you know?

As nurses, we have to deal with stress on a daily basis. Caring for the sick, injured and dying can be tough and it requires compassion, which can lead to caregiver strain and stress. If you’re not careful, even the little things can start to add up, like what I call “call-light stress” and the fatigue brought on by working nights with little sleep and skipped meal breaks. And when the coffee pot stops working, everyone had better watch out!

Choosing to stay calm during these situations can really keep you going—even if you are traveling to a new job every 13 weeks or so. In fact, if you are lucky enough to work as a travel nurse, you may have a greater ability to keep stress under control. Travel nurses don’t have to endure all the meetings and bureaucracy that staff nurses do, they can often spend more time with patients, and they can spend their time off exploring a new city and experiencing new things. It can be like a working vacation.

So, I say, “Bring on the equanimity.” If we can find peace in all situations, we can really start to enjoy things in this life. Spend your work time working and your off time doing what you like. And when you fully enjoy your time off, you will be less stressed and more effective when you do go back work.

Keep calm and carry on!

With true equanimity, you don’t have to worry about the stresses of work following you home. You deal with things as they come up and take things in stride.

That doesn’t mean you won’t encounter stressful situations or you won’t feel stressed out at times: it just means finding peace at these times is possible. Two keys to success: (1) taking care of yourself, and, (2) coming together as a team to support each other.

I have rarely found a group of nurses and doctors that won’t rise up to great stress and overcome. Even if you’re the new guy or gal on that team, you’ll usually experience that attitude of, “We all went through this together.” We may not always keep our cool, but if we work together we will survive with our psyches intact.

This attitude of equanimity can be contagious; soon your co-workers and family will be asking what your secret is to staying calm. All nurses deal with stress, but with the right “habit of mind,” it won’t get you down!

Do You Have a Question About Travel Nursing?
Submit a question to Aaron, our travel nursing expert, today.
Or apply now to get started on a travel nursing assignment.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Top Apps for Travel Nurses

By Aaron Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert

In this technological age we want apps for everything, and our smartphones are filled with single-tap solutions to everyday problems and interests. While app stores have many things that could potentially be helpful to travel nurses, I’ve developed my own list of favorites, based on my travel experiences.

Below, and in no particular order, are my favorite apps for travel nurses:

I have been a huge fan of this website for years. For a site that mainly started out as a way to get real-time reviews and recommendations on restaurants by real patrons, it has rapidly evolved into a list of nearly all businesses and venues. Personally, I still use this app mainly for restaurants. As a travel nurse, you move a lot and drive through many new places; this app can help you avoid a bad meal and find a nice place for a relaxing drink after a long drive or 12-hour shift. I have rarely been disappointed by my fellow yelpers and their recommendations.

Travel search website quickly became my favorite site for finding the best deals on flights when it came out in January 2004. In its early days, Kayak only handled searched for flights and didn’t allow booking. Now you can prepay for flights, hotel reservations and even car rentals. One of my favorite things about Kayak is that it shows competitors’ pricing compared to theirs, saving you time and money. As this company expands, I look to see them becoming the main player for booking travel.

Expedia has long been known as a travel search website, used by thousands for almost a decade. It allows for reviews, information and booking. The mobile apps have some mobile-exclusive discounts on last-minute hotel bookings, which can be good if you decide to drive that extra 100 miles toward your next assignment. They also put all the usual flight and hotel search functionality at your fingertips. Like any other site, take the reviews with a grain of salt, as some people may just be cranky that they didn’t get what they wanted. Expedia apps also have a unique feature that allows you to sort reviews by certain topics depending on your search.

Epocrates Essentials
This complete drug reference app allows you access to tons of information about prescribed medications, herbals and over-the-counter drugs. It includes cool features such as a pill identifier, drug interaction guide, lab references and a cool infectious disease guide. It’s like having a pharmacist, infectious disease doctor and medical reference book in your pocket.

Infuse and MedCalc
Both of these are handy drug infusion calculators. They allow you to put in patients’ weights and dose desired and spit out an instant infusion rate for you to use. The thing I like about Infuse is the fact that you can change quickly based of differing concentrations. Now you may ask, “Aaron, why do I need this silly app when all pumps are smart pumps?” Well, not all hospitals can afford the smart pumps you may be used to. Admittedly this was a few years ago, but I’ll never forget one of my assignments where my first patient was being sedated with propofol; the technology used to mark the infusion rate was a Post-it note attached to the pump that only worked in ml/hr!

ACLS and PALS Advisors
As an instructor for these wonderful classes, I always teach, “Don’t memorize this stuff. It’s in a book on the crash cart!” Well, some hospital may not have that book, and still I wouldn’t encourage you to memorize every page of the algorithms. Use these helpful apps as a review or to guide you through “unstable bradycardia with a pulse.”

Google Maps
I know there may be other maps apps out there, but Google Maps quickly became my “go to.” Most smartphones come equipped with some sort of GPS/maps app and it is usually the default on your phone. So you may have to download this one, but so far it’s never failed me, and it won’t cost you anything. Since you may be driving in a new city every few months for your travel assignments, you do have more chances of getting lost. Overall, you just need an app you can trust.

So download these apps, or find your own favorites. The most important thing is that you use your resources to make yourself the best travel nurse you can be. Enjoy the mobile life in travel nursing!

Do You Have a Question About Travel Nursing?
Submit a question to Aaron, our travel nursing expert, today.
Or apply now to get started on a travel nursing assignment.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Equipment Overload: 5 Tips for Nurses to Master the Unfamiliar

By Aaron Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert

Did you know that there are more than 10 companies that make IV infusion pumps? Just think how many pumps you might have to figure out how to use if you work as a travel nurse for a while--especially if you go across the country like I did.

In the modern healthcare setting, we have electronic equipment for everything from peritoneal dialysis to left ventricular assist devices. All of these devices require knowledge and skill before you can feel confident working with them. The sheer number of possibilities can produce anxiety in the most tenured of nurses, but there are several resources that can help.

Below are a few tips I picked up over the years to find these resources and make life a little easier when it comes to figuring out unfamiliar equipment.

1. Most units have a nurse educator; locate this person at the beginning of your assignment and use him or her as a resource when needed. Ask during orientation to have the educator go through any equipment you don’t know or haven’t used in a while; this is their job, so they should be more than happy to help you.

2. Do and see as much as you can during orientation, whether it lasts for one day or one week. If the person you’re assigned to shadow has easy patients, ask to follow someone else so you can experience how things work in the unit.

3. If you are assigned a patient who is using equipment for his care that you are not familiar with, don’t be ashamed to ask for a different assignment. If “just-in-time” education will work, then be a team player and help out. Ultimately your license is on the line, and the care of the patient comes first. So protect the patient and yourself by practicing within your scope and not doing anything that doesn’t feel safe.

4. Most equipment has online manuals. Look up the companies’ websites for helpful tips, videos, and PDF documents on how to use them. Many companies now have 24-hour help lines you can call, as well, and some companies post instructional videos on their own sites or on YouTube.

5. Most importantly, ask questions. The full-time staff at your current assignment know their equipment and will gladly share tips and tricks with you. I know there is a certain level of pride when it comes to admitting you don’t know something, but this is too important. Swallow your pride and ask someone.

In travel nursing, you must quickly learn how to use the resources available to you. A lot goes into being a competent nurse, and travel nursing increases the number of things you need to know. So take care of yourself and use your resources!

Do You Have a Question About Travel Nursing?
Submit a question to Aaron, our travel nursing expert, today.
Or apply now to get started on a travel nursing assignment.