Last year, 2021, was quite a unique year for travel nursing.
In fact, if we call it like it is, it was an unprecedented year for the planet.
But as we charge into a new year and fabulous opportunities, the time has never been better to polish up on a few things. Things that really matter for the current or soon-to-be travel RN.
As I write this article, we're still amid a pandemic. Mask mandates are still the norm, social distancing is still quite the thing, and hospitals are getting more full with new virus variants.
So now it's essential for travel nurses to leap into the still unknown future and ready themselves for whatever comes next.
These are the top four things we nurses must do to be at our best and showcase what we've learned.
Get your creds up to date
We all know that nursing is 24-7-365 regardless of what's going on in the world.
So pandemic or not, it's up to us to ensure our basics are all current and up to date.
One of the things that I prioritized this past year is to get my BLS, ACLS, and PALS updated. There may be other certs involved for some of you, but for most of us, these are the top three. Two of mine were close to expiring, so I took some downtime between contracts to update them.
The more significant point is that crisis or not, travel RNs and staff RNs should ensure that all your certs are active for the duration of the assignment and beyond.
Make that resume and CV shine
Perhaps you've got a crisis gig under your belt now. Or maybe you've now amassed gobs of COVID experience over the last year. Well, if you don't put a light on it, nobody will know of your new skills and expertise.
Use this time to polish and update your papers!
Over the last year, I know I've had some unique experiences as a travel RN. So during my previous break between gigs, I sweetened my resume up and added it to my CV. These went on Indeed (job search service), and lo and behold, did the recruitment Gods shine down on me.
The sheer number and volume of offers, gigs, requests were mind-boggling. But the best part is that many were now searching for someone with the skills I had just updated my resume with.
The bottom line is that you should absolutely use your resume as an opportunity to list your accomplishments, objectives, professional experience, and education. After all, recruitment is all about you!
So shine that light on who and what you've done.
Start a contract talk with your recruiter
Now that your creds are updated, and you've put a shine on your resume, it's time to start a chat with your recruiter.
Here's the thing, though. Some of you may be new to travel nursing and don't yet have a recruiter. That's totally ok. Remember earlier when I mentioned Indeed?
Well, dropping your new resume there will open a floodgate of opportunities.
Trust me. Even after 26 years as an RN and travel RN, I still get dozens of inquiries every week. But if you're looking for a specific contract, company, or even recruiter, then I'd ask your peers.
The bottom line here is that it's crucial to begin real talks with your recruiter at this stage so that you're looking at the best options for your next travel gig.
Take care of number one
Of course, I'm referring to you!
We've been through a lot this past year. Heck, some of us have been through a lot this past month. With rapid response work, canceled contracts, working short-staffed, and even some nurses being laid off, it's now it's time to give yourself some TLC.
You deserve it.
Most of us nurses give selflessly to our careers and patients. We often do it to the detriment of our own health and well-being. We rarely give ourselves the pampering we deserve.
One thing I recently did was after a lengthy contract that extended two times, I was ready for some R and R. Once I returned home, my wife and I spent an entire week in Santa Monica, CA, and did absolutely nothing. We spent time together, strolled the beach, had some excellent food, and just enjoyed our downtime.
Maybe you're tired of travel? Other self-care options are reading a great book, hanging out with family, or just lots of Netflix and chill.
You pick. There's no right or wrong answer here.
The final word
While we all likely had a bumpy year, we can turn things around and make the next twelve months our best yet. And if travel nursing isn't for you anymore, that's ok too. Just take care of yourself first and foremost.
Until next time! Be safe and travel.