The demand for travel nurses in the United States has drastically increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since January of 2020 we have seen a 400% increase in openings, from 8,000 to 32,000 as of December, 2020.
Travel nurses have played a crucial role in places that have become overwhelmed/understaffed with covid-19 patients. This type of nursing position has become one of the “go-to” jobs within the industry, especially this year, due to its increase in pay as well as its flexible lifestyle.
We are also seeing an increase in new nurses deciding to go this route. After completing the work history requirements, many new nurses are seeking positions of this nature. However, the competition can be tough for these types of short term, high paying assignments.
It is important to note that becoming a successful travel nurse takes time, patience and dedication. Take each assignment as an opportunity to learn and build upon your skills. However, there are certain habits that if practiced properly can contribute to successfully advancing your travel nursing career.
- Responsive + Dedicated
Be open and communicative with your recruiter. Not only is it extremely important to find a dedicated recruiter but it is also important for you to be committed and prepared to finding assignments while working with your recruiter.
That being said, it is crucial to find a recruiter and an agency that is supportive, trusting and hard working, to help you find the right assignment. Although it may take time to find the right assignment for you, resilience and optimism is key for both you and your recruiter.
Being diligent and prompt is essential. Recruiters will require documentation, so being responsive is key.
- Eager to Learn
Being a travel nurse means that you need to be able to accept a flexible work schedule. This could mean being called into work last minute or assignment changes.
Being eager and driven to learn new things will result in success. In each assignment you will be learning many new things about hospital environments, hospital culture, patient care and much more. You will need to be up to the challenge!
Learn from your colleagues and always keep your eyes and ears open. If you are unsure about something, ask questions and do follow-up research of your own.
Although travel nurse assignments can bring forth challenges and struggles, you must be quick on your feet and constantly looking for ways to learn and improve in and outside of the job.
- Comfortable with Change
Being comfortable and embracing change is one of the most important habits that travel nurses must have. While assignments typically last only 13 weeks, constant uncertain, high-pressure, and fast-paced environments are inevitable.
It is also important to have an open mind and adventurous attitude, willing and wanting to try new things and finding excitement from it.
If you are able to adapt and adopt this lifestyle, you will enjoy your travel experiences that much more. Embracing difficult cultures, peoples and situations are the root of the on-going change associated with becoming a travel nurse.
Stay connected and network. Before starting a new assignment it is extremely beneficial to research the new locations and cultures. It could also be beneficial to connect with other travel nurses in the area to not only have the opportunity to ask any questions during placement but also make new connections before arrival.
A travel nurse who enters a new assignment with positive energy and attitudes will attract like-minded individuals. It is important to connect with those of a higher status and make friendships with colleagues. This could lead you to getting future recommendations and references.
Don’t be shy, step out of your comfort zone. Although it can be intimidating to enter into a new environment, relax, if you welcome people in they will do the same in return. However, make sure you stay out of any workplace politics. The last thing you want is to begin a new assignment and somehow become a part of any “drama.”
Once the assignment has been completed, stay in touch. You never know when you may be assigned a previous location, so it is important to maintain new relationships.
Some extra tips to consider…
Research state licenses. When you hold multiple state licenses, you will be able to qualify for more opportunities. Which could mean higher pay, depending on the state.
Clean up your resume. Although your recruiter should help you with this, it is important to have a clean, organized and precise resume to be submitted to potential employers.
Gather references. A perk of building and maintaining new relationships within new assignments is the possibility of acquiring potential references. As a travel nurse, having references is key. Thus, the more relationships you build, the more options you will have for references.
Understand what you want. When it comes to pay, location, duties and overall criteria, make sure you understand and are clear about what you are looking for. This will not only help your recruiter but will also help you (hopefully) get all that you are looking for in each travel assignment.
Implement and maintain these habits to ensure that you are the first nurse to be called for the top travel positions. Make sure that you are travel-ready while being a dedicated travel nurse, as your efforts will pay off!