Here we are about to roll into the late fall and early winter season, and I bet many of my fellow nurses are dreaming about two types of travel gigs.
Either the north so we can hit the slopes, ski, and snowboard. Or for my warm-blooded travel nurse friends, they're considering a contract in sunny Florida or even Texas.
Regardless, my goal with this article is to offer tips on how to and that perfect dream assignment.
Finding the ideal location for your next travel assignment is crucial to having a good nursing experience. And while sometimes those perfect gigs are just like low-hanging fruit, sometimes it's not simple to find land that fantastic travel opportunity. It'll take oodles of perseverance, patience, and of course, planning.
So let's dive into our top tips.
'Tis the season to have a jolly assignment
Point blank is let the season work to your advantage.
What I mean is basically what we opened this article with. Since fall and winter are upon us, this may be the perfect time to seek that winter contract in Colorado if you're the snow-bunny type.
And on the flip side, it may also be the best time to avoid sunny locales, mainly because there is often an exodus of snowbirds to states like Florida or Texas.
Consider the time of year, and the season is the bottom line. Do your research ahead of time. And finally, be patient as your recruiter seeks out just the right fit for you.
Keep your bags packed and stacked
OK, I don't mean literally always to have your bags packed, but rather to always be prepared to travel.
More specifically, if your dream gig is in New York City, then be sure you have your NY nursing license in hand. You never know when the travel nurse company will send you a text saying the contract you wanted is open now.
It's important to know that some recruiters will try to persuade you to take other gigs. It could be because they have a bonus coming, or they need to fill a quota but stand firm! If you have your sites set on a specific destination, don't let them talk you out of it.
Learn more to earn more
I'm personally not a fan of extra schooling or unnecessary certifications.
But the fact is that if you have specific certifications or micro specialties, then there could very well be more travel nursing opportunities for you.
Experience may also play a significant role. Meaning the more you have, the more potential gigs will open up to you.
Standing out among fellow travel RNs may be just the ticket to landing that sweet contract in that perfect location. So having specific certs like your CCRN, TNCC, PALS, or others can help you land your dream contract.
The bottom line is having certs, a specialty, and even experience can lead to a more incredible opportunity.
Understand your limits and stick to your boundaries
Sometimes we need to give a little to get a little.
We need to sacrifice, in other words. But this doesn't mean we have to give away the farm. It simply means that we travel nurses need to be a little flexible sometimes.
It might mean working the day shift for a few weeks. Perhaps it means we need to be OK to float as needed. It could mean that you need to live in a hotel vs. a traditional apartment.
The bottom line here isn't for you to sacrifice your standards. Instead, it's to remain flexible concerning the dream assignment and, of course, how you might be treated overall.
For me, as of this article, I have traveled for the last 17 months, and all 17 have been hotel living arrangements. I don't mind it at all. In fact, I love it because there is a hot breakfast and we have maid service daily if we need it. I get to focus solely on my patients and the client facility.
For others, living in a hotel is a total "no-go."
Long story short is for you to know your limits, set your standards, and your deal-breakers.
Unintended travel experiences
We all travel for different reasons. For some of us nurses, it's to see the US. The pay drives others. And yet, some enjoy the nomadic, ever-changing lifestyle and scene.
My tip here is that regardless of your reason for becoming a travel nurse, be open and flexible. Don't hyper-focus on too many details and instead allow for some spontaneity and even randomness. It's this flexibility that may open you up to some truly incredible and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
A real-time example is my current contract.
I was really hot and heavy to go to Los Angeles and work an ER gig. It made all my requirements, and I knew I was going to have fun. But on the other hand, I also had two other recruiters searching.
One came back with a fantastic opportunity for me to work in New Mexico. While it was never a place I necessarily wanted to take a contract in, the work was humanitarian in nature, and as I write, this is where I am.
So far, this has been one of the most fulfilling assignments I've ever taken. And it was all because I remained open and flexible to see what might emerge.
I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for those unexpected experiences and flexibility in my dream assignments.
The final word
Be open to unexpected experiences to land your dream travel nursing assignment.
This doesn't mean abandoning what you want but instead remaining flexible and ready for whatever might come along. It's about standing firm on the boundaries of where you'll go (or not) while also considering how much flexibility may make all the difference when it comes time to negotiate a contract with an agency or recruiter.
Whatever your reasons for becoming a travel nurse are, remember they will only become more evident as time goes by - so take this opportunity now!