Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dress Code, What Dress Code?

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

As nurses we know we have the overall best uniforms when it comes to jobs. I have heard them referred to as suits or pajamas. To me they’re just simple and comfortable. But in this day and age, even a simple thing like scrubs can be made complex with different colors and styles. Especially for non-style experts like myself; most non-work days I can be found in shorts, T-shirt and flip flops.

I have found that most hospitals are pretty easygoing when it comes to dress code. Any pair of clean scrubs will do. They are more worried about hand washing and a properly displayed name tag than what colors you are wearing.

Some, however, have taken dress codes to the extreme. I have worked at some hospitals that mandate embroidered scrubs in only a limited line of styles and colors that are bought through them. As a traveler, I have worked for this type of hospital. I was a little shocked the first day when I showed up to orientation and saw everyone else in these “designer scrubs.” I quickly went to the manager and asked what my dress code would be. Luckily, I only had to wear the light blue color that the other staff had and in any style.

This was the last time I made the mistake of not asking about the dress code at the unit ahead of time. Of course, I always waited until after accepting the job to ask simple questions like this, but overall it helped me better prepare myself for the first day.

I would rather avoid surprises on a travel assignment, and you can apply this process to any questions you may have. If you have a major question about your work assignment, ask during your interview. When it comes to smaller inquiries like dress code, keep these for after you’ve locked up the job.

In regards to scrubs, I always carried a random assortment with me. If I had to buy a certain type or color, I kept them after the assignment, since you never know when another job might call for the same type. Or you may just go back to that hospital system again in your traveling future.

So pull on those pajamas ... uh, I mean professional work attire called scrubs and call your recruiter about a job. Live your own adventure this fall--in comfort and style--with travel nursing.

Do You Have a Question About Travel Nursing?
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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Keeping Up on the CEUs

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

Every state has different requirements for getting a nursing license.  This can be frustrating for all nurses, especially travel nurses who work in multiple states.  But the one thing that binds us together--besides the RN behind our name-- is the fact that we all need to get continuing education units (CEUs) to keep that license active.

While the amount of units needed may change, the fact still remains that we need to keep our knowledge current by taking CEUs every year.

One of the easiest ways to keep up on current requirements is by checking your home state’s board of nursing website.  And when you hold multiple licenses and plan on keeping them for a while, make sure you check them all periodically, since requirements for each state are different, number-wise.

Having multiple state licenses can be difficult, but your recruiter can offer some advice.  I luckily only needed my additional licenses for the 2-3 year period that they were issued for and never had to renew them.  For those of you who plan to travel for a while, I would take a closer look at the requirements.  Most likely all your CEUs you take will work for any state, but the number required will differ.

To my knowledge, most states do not require you to send in proof of CEU when you renew, but many will perform random audits similar to the IRS.  But I would never recommend rolling the dice on this one.  Get your CEUs done before the month of your renewal; it will make your life so much easier in case you get audited.

Accredited vs non- accredited? There is a difference in the two.  Accredited CEUs are approved and peer reviewed by a body of nursing, either a state board of nursing or larger bodies like the American Nurses Association (ANA).  Non-accredited units are education that is offered in the field of nursing but hasn’t been officially reviewed or approved.  Most states will accept non-accredited units for some of your required numbers, but it’s important to check your state’s website to make sure, and to see how many you need.

If you’re hungry for knowledge and want to do everything you can to advance your career, no one says you have to stop at the required number of units.  Go ahead and get all the accredited CEUs you can.  Knowledge is power! (Or at least that’s what I’ve been told.)

My final word of advice?  Keep up with each state’s requirements, and make sure to pace yourself so you don’t get caught short when the deadline to renew your license rolls around. 

[Editor’s note: If you are working as a travel nurse, you may have access to free, unlimited CEUs through your staffing company.  For instance, NurseZone’s staffing partners offer travelers more than 160 free CEU courses through

Do You Have a Question About Travel Nursing?
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Or apply now to get started on a travel nursing assignment.

Monday, March 10, 2014

What to Expect from Your Travel Assignment Housing

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

I get many questions about what to look forward to when it comes to the housing provided by most travel nurse companies.  It can vary from location to location and you always want to double-check; don’t assume too much based on past assignments or what other travelers may tell you. 

But if you choose the company-paid housing over the housing stipend, there are some basics that you can expect to find in your new digs.  Other things may be negotiable.

Where your housing might be

Many travel companies have staff members whose only job is to locate and contract housing for travelers.  Depending on your assignment location and your agency, there may be multiple places to choose from or just one.  

Some locations seem to cater to travel nurses, like the apartment I had in San Diego, Calif., when it seemed like every traveler lived in the complex I did.  I actually liked it because you got to know people quickly and could carpool to work.

Generally a travel nurse company will put its workers within a reasonable driving distance from work.  However, this can be anywhere from right down the street to a 30-minute drive in traffic, so make sure your agency knows your preferences and how you plan on commuting.  If you are planning on public transportation, for instance, make sure they don’t house you out in the suburbs.  If you let them know in advance they can work with you to accommodate your needs. 

When I traveled to New York I passed on the car allowance to be housed in the city instead of the suburbs.  It was well worth it and in reality most people use public transit there.  Public transit can be your friend in a new city. 

What your lodging will likely include

Most travel nurse accommodations are private apartments with a single bedroom, or they might be a studio or loft-style housing in some areas.  A few companies may ask you if you would like to share a two-bedroom unit with a roommate, but this should be negotiable.  If you plan to bring along family or friends, you can also ask about larger accommodations that may be available at additional costs.

Agencies generally advertise that their housing is “furnished,” but make sure you know what that includes. In every apartment (or hotel) I stayed in I was provided with some basic furnishings and household items.  I always had:

  • A bed and dresser with drawers
  • A couch and chair and some side tables 
  • I usually had a kitchen table and chairs, too, depending on the size of the apartment.
But that is where the standardization ends.  A TV, microwave, and vacuum were always negotiable. 

Some of my places came with your basic kitchen attire (pots, pans, and serving apparatus for four).  But I learned to bring my own cooking stuff and then buy plates at the local thrift store and re-donate them before I left.  If plates and such were there when I moved into my new place, I considered it a bonus!  You normally need to bring your own bed and bath linens, as well.

If you are not sure what to expect, always check with your recruiter or housing representative.  And don’t forget to ask about things like:
  • Pets – many apartments allow them but some don’t, so make sure your agency knows upfront if you are bringing a pet with you
  • Parking and storage
  • Recreation facilities (some complexes have pools, gyms and more)
  • Laundry facilities
  • Nearby services, public transit, etc.
Overall, I was always impressed with my housing, and considered it all a part of the adventure that is travel nursing.  So pack you things and get ready to expand your career as a travel nurse.

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.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

All I Want for Christmas … A Travel Nurse’s Wish List

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

Tis the season, as they say, so I thought I would lighten the mood with a short wish list of things that travel nurses are most likely to want and need -- and not just during the holidays.  I divided the things into five “must-have” items and five bonus gifts you might consider getting before beginning your travel nursing adventure.

Five Christmas “must haves” for travel nurses (please Santa, don’t be late):

1. An experienced recruiter with the ability to get me where I want to go.  Top of my list for sure.  Without a good recruiter you might never get that dream job.  Think of a recruiter like your agent; baseball’s Robinson Cano wouldn’t get millions without someone like Jay Z at his side negotiating the deal, after all.

2. A car with space for some junk in the trunk.  I had an all-wheel-drive wagon when I traveled and loved it.  Put the rear seats down and it fit three extra-large Rubbermaid containers and lots of extras including two suitcases, a DVD player and even enough room for my dog to lie down. Ahh, the road trips!

3. A good laptop, or a tablet with lots of features. When you’re out on the road moving around, you have to stay in touch.  A good laptop with Wi-Fi capability will help.  And don’t skimp on the gigabytes (GBs); if you’re like me, you will take hundreds of pictures so you never forget this awesome trip … uhh, I mean job.

4. A reliable GPS.  I personally never had one, but I did get lost a lot, too.  Hmmm, interesting correlation, eh?  Get a good one you can update; it will come in handy. 

5. A good credit card with low interest.  You’ll be doing a lot of traveling and charging when you’re moving every three months.  Yes, you do get reimbursed, but that can take some time with faxes and receipts, so make sure you’re ready to go when you need it.  No one wants to get stuck in the middle of Wyoming on your way to California!

Five stocking stuffers for travel nurses (the little extras you hope Santa will bring):

1. A couple of good stethoscopes.  Yes, I mean a couple.  We all know these things walk away all the time on the job, so make sure you have more than one. You don’t want to end up running out to find a new store before your first night shift. 

2. A DVD or Blu-ray player.  The first few nights on assignment can be a little lonely, I’m not gonna lie, but this will soon end (I promise).  So bring along some favorite movies and a good player to make those first nights fly by.

3. A compactable suitcase.  You may be stuffing your things in Rubbermaid tubs on your way to and from assignments, but don’t forget the day trips and weekend warrior adventures at each destination.  Even if you live in a city, you’ll want to make time to venture out to nearby places and experience being a tourist.

4. AAA or another roadside assistance program.  The last thing you want is to be stranded on the side of the road.  Or imagine getting a flat tire and realizing your spare and jack are under the 200+ lbs of stuff you’ve just strategically packed into your trunk; you will wish you had some guy to come out and fix it for you.  Plus, it’s just nice to have peace of mind. 

5. A travel companion. Some travel nurses take a friend or family member on their assignments, or even their dog or cat.  I loved having my wife travel along with me.  (You can tell her I said that; I can always use the bonus points!)  Sharing your adventures with someone can make them even more enjoyable.

So, Merry Christmas to all you potential and already-traveling nurses out there!  Even if you are far away from home this year, don’t worry -- there are plenty of holidays to come; for now, enjoy your adventure and make some memories that you can talk about next year.

Do You Have a Question About Travel Nursing?
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Or apply now to get started on a travel nursing assignment.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Do You Have the Personality for Travel Nursing?

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.

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, September 10, 2013

Let's Get Certified!

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.

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.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What Will You Do with Your Free Time? Name Your Game

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.

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.