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!
Friday, April 19, 2013
By Aaron Moore, RN, MSN, travel nurse expert
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).
Or request a call from a recruiter with one of our travel nurse staffing partners.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
By Aaron Moore, RN, MSN, travel nursing expert
Q: I am about to start my first travel nurse assignment in a big city. Do you have any recommendations as to whether I should drive to work or risk public transportation?
A: I have to admit that I am a little biased on this topic: I love public transportation, not only because I’m a little “green”―yes, I even divide my recycling―but taking public transportation can have some real benefits. On the other hand, the destination for your travel nurse assignment, the distance between your housing and your workplace, and your own preferences can make a big difference. So I’ve included some pros and cons to consider and a recommendation from my past experiences.
Pros to public transportation
1. Lots of choices, no parking fees. First, there are so many public transportation modes: bus, train, subway, trolley! But as someone from the Midwest who had never gone anywhere unless buckled into a car or truck, none of these options appealed to me at first. After I started in travel nursing, however, I discovered that in many big cities they make you pay to park at work, so I thought I should give it a try.
2. Relaxing as a passenger. I soon came to realize that it’s so awesome to be able to read, listen to music, study, or even sleep during your commute. Once you’re on your bus or subway, you can sit back and relax. I grew to really enjoy my commute, and then when I did have to drive, I hated dealing with the traffic going to and from work (where you also risk getting in a fender bender or dealing with road rage).
3. Saving your car and the environment. Taking public transportation can save the wear and tear your car gets driving back and forth to work, especially if you don’t live that far away and its stop-and-go traffic the whole way. It can also help save vital resources, and with the price of gas these days, it might help you save money, too.
Cons to public transportation
1. Scheduling issues. Obviously when you ride public transportation, you are not in complete control of your schedule, but at the mercy of the transportation system and its set times for bus stops, etc. This doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, though. As long as you know the train or subway schedule, you should be able to adjust. If you have a smartphone, you might even find an app you can download that can help.
2. Don’t forget to be alert for safety. Just as driving has its risks, so does riding a subway or bus with some potentially shady people. Make sure you are careful out there. If something seems strange or out of place, trust your gut and pay attention. Mind your own business, but be ever mindful of your surroundings. If you’re commuting, it’s likely that so are thousands of other people so there is strength in the masses.
3. Beware of pick pockets and such by keeping your purse or wallet hidden or in a bag; don’t flaunt your iPod/iPad, but buy some cheap headphones and keep your mp3 player inside your bag or jacket. Carry a cheap looking backpack or bag. I wouldn’t recommend that Coach purse or Patagonia bag on the bus; the Wal-Mart knock off is much less appealing to someone looking to grab and run.
My recommendation: Overall I do love public transportation, whether it is a bus, subway, or light rail. But even if you are planning on using public transit on your travel nursing assignment, don’t use it the first day. Drive for awhile and figure out your job, then figure out the best commuting method. When you do decide to “go green” and relax on your way to work, visit your area’s transportation system website; most of them are outfitted with interactive maps and can pretty much figure your route out for you based off two addresses. Also, give the trip a dry run when you’re not working; this will allow you to know the real time it takes to get from Point A to Point B.
So, while you’re living the dream of travel nursing, don’t forget to give public transportation a try―it could save you a few bucks and a headache or two. Just be careful and plan ahead.
Related blog posts:
What Type of Vehicle Would You Recommend for a Travel Nurse?
How Do I Impress the Manager in My First Travel Nurse Interview?
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
By Aaron Moore, RN, MSN, contributor
Q: I’m getting ready for my first interview as a travel nurse. How do I impress the manager even though I have never traveled before?
A: This is an awesome question, and your desire to be prepared is a great sign. There are definitely a few things you can do to impress that potential employer over the phone.
Even though it was a few years ago, I still remember my first travel nurse interview--including where it failed and what I could have done better. But the interviews kept getting easier, and I learned a lot along the way. So here are some lessons you might glean from my trial-and-error methods:
Travel nurse interview: Take #1
For my first interview, I didn’t know what to expect and just thought that I could go in with a positive attitude and come out with an awesome job in sunny California. I was wrong. It started out great, then the manager asked why I didn’t have any travel experience listed on my résumé. I was honest and told her simply that this was my first interview; I realize now I should have told her about the experience I did have. The questions only got harder from there, and after she made me describe to her in words the difference between Mobitz type one and type two heart blocks, I knew I didn’t get the job.
Travel nurse interview: Take #2
So I went back to the drawing board and studied up on my heart blocks and other parts of my nursing knowledge that I thought was weak. As I prepared for my second interview, I was still nervous about my chances to get hired as a pediatric/trauma ICU nurse with only two years of experience.
Again the interview started off well as I spoke to the assistant manager who said she loved having travelers and that they used them all the time. When she asked about my travel experience, I started my answer differently and pointed out my strengths and that I had floated to many other ICUs in my current job and really loved the diversity and what I could learn from a new unit. This was the right answer! Now maybe fate or luck intervened, but I got that job in Chula Vista, Calif., working a small ICU where I floated to the ER on a regular basis. A great first travel job if I do say so myself.
What I learned in my first failure and my first successful interview was this: you never point out your weaknesses. You anticipate the obvious questions they are going to ask and you prepare. I would have my wife ask me questions and I would answer out loud so I could hear myself say the right answers. This made it easy once I was talking on the phone. Trust me, this is a great technique.
Most interviewers will try to uncover your weaknesses, so look at yourself and find them before you interview. Now I knew that I couldn’t become an expert EKG reader in a few days, but what I did learn was how to steer questions to turn my weaknesses into strengths. For example, if they ask why you don’t have any travel experience, simply state that you are very excited to start travel nursing and that your positive attitude and willingness to learn and adapt to any situation will be a great asset to their unit.
Follow this up by giving an example of a strange/stressful/new situation at work you experienced and how you handled it like a pro!
Finding out as much as possible about the job and the facility ahead of time is also important, so talk to your recruiter about the employer’s expectations. Your recruiter can also give you some valuable interviewing tips.
After a few interviews you’ll keep getting better and soon realize that they all ask the same questions with only a little variance. So if you are interviewing for a trauma ICU, brush up on your TNCC; if cardiac, then refresh yourself with a little telemetry review; and so on and so on. By the way, I love to Google stuff like this: you might not realize how many free study guides, review courses and tests are out there that can help you prepare.
So don’t let first interview jitters keep you away from the best job in nursing. Shake off those butterflies, study up, and prepare yourself for the obvious questions and you’ll have a good chance to ace your first interview. And if you don’t for some reason, don’t worry; just learn from it and do better the next time. Trial and error worked for me and started me on a six year adventure that I wouldn’t give up for the world.
Looking for travel nursing opportunities? Design your ideal job and NurseZone.com’s staffing partners will help you find and secure the right position.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
By Aaron Moore, MSN, RN, columnist
Q: I really want to try travel nursing, but I can’t get up the nerve to go. Any advice?
A: There are so many reasons why you should try travel nursing. I know it’s tough to venture out on your own--and some personality types may find it harder than others--but if you think you might want to leave the nest and see the world, here are some tips to help you make the decision.
First, do your own research. I always feel more comfortable about a decision once I have really looked into it. Reading information online is a great first step; then look around and talk to friends in the profession. I’ll bet you can find a travel nurse in your facility that would be open to chat with you and answer questions. In fact, I’ve never met a traveler who didn’t love to brag about his or her job. (Which is why I love to answer your questions; I love travel nursing and take every chance I get to talk about it.)
Next, talk to the people closest to you. “I don’t want to move away from family and friends,” is the most common reason I hear for not traveling. The fear of being alone is an honest feeling that almost everyone has to some degree. I have met some travelers who returned home after their first assignment because they realized that it wasn’t for them. At least they tried―and now they know.
But I have met many more travelers who took the chance and realized what an awesome opportunity travel nursing is. Don’t forget that your friends and family can come visit you in some of these great destinations, too, or you can plan extended side trips in between assignments to spend time with them.
Lastly, talk to a recruiter. Recruiters are the experts and can steer you in the right direction, and answer any questions you have that the websites and other sources can’t answer. Be cautious in how many recruiters you call, though, because they are likely to keep calling back.
Overall―and I mean it from my heart when I say this―you can’t go wrong with travel nursing. One of my favorite chats I ever had with my recruiter was, “I can do anything for three months.” When you think about it, it’s not that long of a time. And if you’ve read any of my previous blogs you already know that time will fly by as you acclimate to your new home, explore your new city, and meet new people.
So make another resolution in 2013 to really consider the possibility of travel nursing. There are many jobs open right now in all different parts of the country, in all different lines of nursing. I know this because I get calls weekly from recruiters trying to lure me back. Heck, I might just take them up on it one of these days.
Still can’t decide if a travel career is right for you? Check out “Why Nurses Travel” for insights from other RNs or talk to a recruiter with one of our staffing partners to ask specific answers.
Friday, February 1, 2013
By Aaron Moore, MSN, RN, columnist
Q: I’m getting ready for my first travel nursing assignment and heading out on my own. How hard is it to meet people when you are traveling?
A: I had that same question when I was getting ready to travel. I will admit I cheated a little because I was lucky enough to have my wife travel with me, but I can attest to the fact that it’s normal to feel out of your comfort zone when you leave friends and family at home.
Take my word for it, though; you’ll have so much fun traveling and you’ll meet so many great people that you won’t even realize you’re missing home. But you do have a role to play in making that happen; people won’t just flock to your door, after all.
So here are some important things you can do to get acquainted in a new location and establish some great friendships on your assignments:
- Get out and about. Number one, don’t sit around your apartment and do nothing. When you aren’t doing anything your mind will start to wander and you’ll miss home. You’ll also miss the opportunity to meet some new and interesting people.
- Meet and greet, at work and at home. You may get lucky and meet someone right away that you want to hang out with; most assignments at large hospitals have many travelers starting at any given time so you might hook up with someone there. But if you don’t, it’s not a big deal: there are plenty of other things to do and see while you get acclimated to your new place. As you start working and doing more around your neighborhood, you are bound to meet people.
- Offer to help. It always took me a little while to get to know other nurses that I worked with, but the best part about nursing is you’re never the only one on the floor. Put yourself out there, jump in and help out other nurses right away. An offer to help is a great way to make friends quickly.
- Start with the basics. Start conversations with staff about where they are from, what they like to do, etc. This will not only let them know that you’re a team player, but it will help them get to know what type of person you are and you will most likely find that you have some things in common with people on your new unit.
- Expect to build some great friendships. I can honestly say that some of my best friends have come from travel nursing. And even though we live miles away from each other now, I still keep in touch with some of them. In fact, I recently had a surprise phone call from one of my great friends I met while traveling in Oregon. We hadn’t seen each other in years, yet we picked up right where we left off. We had met during one of my first assignments and found out we had a lot in common; our wives hit it off, too, so we spent a lot of time together. We even took an assignment at the same hospital a year after we met so we could all hang out again.
- Invite current friends to visit. You don’t need to worry about being alone; you will meet plenty of people and you can always have your friends from home (or past assignments) come and visit you. There is no better opportunity for family and friends to visit you in an awesome location than when you are traveling. You can show them around once you’ve been there awhile, or bring them with you and explore together from the beginning.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
By Aaron Moore, RN, MSN, columnist
Q: I'm thinking about travel nursing and wanted to know what kind of vehicle you recommend?
A: Travel nursing certainly does impart the need to bring stuff with you when you go to a new location. For some assignments, you might find that you will use air transportation. In those cases, I will tell you from experience: bring an empty suitcase when you fly out because you'll accumulate enough stuff in three months that you'll need something to get it all back home. These types of assignments may include a car rental, but check with your recruiter before taking my word on it.
But for those assignments that will include driving, just make a few simple choices for your vehicle and how you pack it—and then take your time and enjoy the journey.
Road trips are one of my favorite parts of traveling (as you can read in previous blogs). I personally traveled with a wagon-like vehicle and really found it perfect for my "keep it simple" lifestyle. It allowed my wife and I to each take a large Rubbermaid container for our clothes and personal stuff, and one for all our shared things like items for the kitchen, living room and dining room.
We also purchased a topper for the car that allowed us to haul additional, non-breakable items in a secure container. After packing the tubs and the topper, you just shove stuff in the gaps and you're good to go. We were even able to provide enough space for our Daschund to curl up in the back on a blanket and take a nap.
I met plenty of people who traveled to their assignments in trucks and SUVs, and some made cars work, as well. I think it really depends on the person and what you think you need to bring with you when you go. If you have a lot of stuff you may need a bigger vehicle.
Or you could just consider minimalizing your belongings. You'd be surprised what you really need! Whether you are heading for a big city or a smaller town like exotic Minot, North Dakota, there will be so much to do and see in your new location, that you'll soon realize that you don’t need a ton of stuff.
Need more tips? See some of my previous blogs for advice on how to minimalize your load when living the dream of travel nursing.