Dallas, TX

How To Choose The Best Travel Nursing Offer – A Travel Veterans Best Tips

Rick Martinez RN

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You finally pulled the trigger and decided to join the nomadic nursing life.

WooHoo, and congrats!

If you're anything like me or any travel nurse for that matter, you probably spent lots of time researching and in nurse groups to seek out the right assignment for you. You probably talked to fellow nurses at work, scoped out several travel firms, and maybe even have a recruiter referred to you. And after having recruiters referred, I bet you even reached out to a few and now found just the perfect one.

Does any of this sound familiar?

And now the floodgates have opened, and you're getting contract offers and assignments rolling in faster than you can seem to handle.

Now what?

How do you determine which one is the right one for you?

Funny, you should ask because that's a lot like how I felt when I first dove into the travel nurse world. Tons of offers came at me so fast I got dizzy.

So I'll tell you the same thing I tell nurses who now come to me on the unit, asking for advice.

Chill out.

Look, as an RN, you are the golden egg. What I mean by that is that you are the hot property right now that everyone is bidding on, so chillax. Don't rush into it, and make sure that the gig is the one you want. Not something your recruiter talks you into.

So without further ado, here are the most essential things in no particular order.

It's all about the real estate

Location, location, location...right?

When I first started travel nursing, I wanted to go to places I hadn't been. My very first gig was in Dallas, Texas. Sure, I'm from Texas but never explored the Big D as a local. Only as a transient tourist.

So when an offer came in that was in my skill set, and in Dallas...I was in.

The location may not be the prime driver for some of you, but it's still something to consider. Especially if you have days off or downtime.

Simply to assure that you'll have something fun and engaging to do.

Sunshine and rainbows

We all want sunshine and rainbows. Right?

Well, not necessarily.

Some of you want to travel to warm places and others like the mountains or ski-type weather.

All I mean to say is that weather is also a top priority for the new or seasoned travel nurse.

Weather honestly isn't that big a deal to me as a travel RN. I've worked in arctic conditions, like literally in the arctic circle. All the way to where I'm writing this from in the New Mexico desert.

That's not to say weather is NOT essential; it's just not in my top 3. But if it is vital for you, then, by all means, do not make a contract that isn't in a place where you'll enjoy the weather.

Lousy weather can totally ruin an experience for you.

How's the team?

Also known more formally as "unit dynamics."

New traveler or not, you know as well as I do how important it is to have good vibes and good people around you. So yes, unit dynamics are always a top priority for me. As a traveler, I know that I'm going to work in a unit or floor that may be understaffed, but the question I want to know is why?

Is it ratios? Is it that the nurses are becoming travelers? Could it be the leadership?

Be sure to understand why.

Also, be sure to grasp the fact that unit dynamics is not just the nurses around you on shift. It's also the leaders, support staff, and to an extent, the types of patient population you'll be seeing and serving.

Besides that, another biggie is 7a or 7p shift. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool night shift nurse, but I was "voluntold" to move to the day shift on the contract I'm currently on.

Turns out I'm actually thriving on the 7a shift, so the name of the game is to be flexible or get it in writing the shift you'll be on.

Show me the money

Right now, we're seeing unprecedented rates for travel and crisis staffing RNs.

And for many, this is the prime driver.

Everything I have mentioned is suddenly secondary or even unimportant as RNs hit up crisis work. And if you know who Jerry Maguire is, then you'll know that right now, many travel RNs are simply saying, "show me the money."

Ironically, in my early days as a traveler, this was the motivator for me. Whoever paid the best is where'd I'd go. But now, as a seasoned travel RN veteran, money is probably third on my list.

For me, lifestyle is the most critical factor.

Just remember to put this where it belongs in your top reasons for accepting a contract.

Getting to know some history

I actually love history.

Not so much as a class I had to take in 9th grade, but more so as a way to see where significant events happened. And to feel like, in a small way, I can be a part of it.

Like when I went to Dallas for my first travel gig. Getting to stand on the same piece of land where President Kennedy was shot was eerie, and at the same time, awe-inspiring.

Getting to know some history and choosing locations because of it is super important for some. And not as big a deal for others.

The final word

So what's it going to be? And which location offers the best chance at a good contract for you?

That's up to you.

But remember, when choosing a contract, don't just check out the dollar signs. Determine why you're going where you're going and have some fun along the way!

Now get back to work!

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I'm a freelance writer and a decades-long travel nurse. Writing about the travel nurse industry and healthcare.

San Antonio, TX
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