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.


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