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?
Submit a question to Aaron, our travel nursing expert, today.
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.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Do Some Staff Nurses Have a Bad Impression of Travelers?

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!

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.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What Kind of Housing Can I Expect as a Travel Nurse?

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.

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.