5 Tips to prepare for your first assigment as Travel Nurse Professional
March 9, 2016
For the first-time traveler, getting that initial assignment can be quite a challenge in today's market. However, it might pale in comparison to the stress involved with the uncertainty of what to do next. Here are some tips to take into consideration to look at some of the preparation that should take place before setting out on your assignment.
#1 Read Your Contract - after agreeing to any contract over the phone, make sure you get written confirmation from your travel nurse recruiter and verify that there is nothing in there that they did not discuss with you over the phone. This document should spell out all the terms and conditions of your assignment as well as the expectations of your employer. Read your contract entirely, as it is important that you have a thorough understanding of it. While verbal agreements can be binding in some states, it's no substitution for a legal document signed by you and your company.
#2 Certifications and Licenses – Make sure you touch base with your recruiter and see if there is any paperwork that you will need to bring to your assignment. Typically, the HR department will want to see your nursing license and any certifications (CPR, ACLS, or PALS cards) and make copies directly from you. If you forget these items, CALL YOUR RECUITER! A good recruiter will have these items on file and could send them to your facility in a pinch.
#3 First Day/Orientation – The first day of any job is always nerve wrecking. You will want to check with your recruiter is what to expect from the facility in the way of an orientation and training that might be necessary. Some hospitals require testing and there is nothing worse then getting there on the first day and not being prepared! Testing is often scheduled as part of the hospital's orientation. This may involve something as a simple math test involving drug calculations, or it can be a comprehensive testing platform such as PBDS (Performance Based Data Systems). While no one likes being surprised during the week of orientation, Always ask your recruiter for the name of a contact person at the facility who handles this so you can check with them directly regarding what to expect during your orientation.
#4 Housing - If you have chosen to get your own housing, make sure you have lined it up with plenty of time in advance, you’ve read the contract and made your deposits. While we could talk stipends and housing that you arrange on your own, we'll stick to the most common situation: company-provided. At Summit Medical Staffing, your recruiter is also your housing coordinator so you do not have to talk to a separate department who knows nothing about your situation. You should double check least a week or two before any assignment start date just to make sure everything is in place. Once they have your accommodations set, they should be able to give you the name of the apartment complex, a street address, and your unit number. Often times these are fully furnished apartments so you do not have to travel with your non-essential items. Once you know where you are staying, you can then look up the complex online and look up information on the surrounding neighborhood and find the local businesses (gas, food, general merchandise). If you like, you can even map the route you will take to work.
While this is not required, it is always a good idea to call the apartment complex and confirm the details. Often, they will have useful information such as what cable provider and phone company provides services at the complex. Being a TV junkie, my cable installation is usually the first thing I schedule after having my assignment address. Different travel companies pay different expenses. Typically your rent, gas, water, electric, basic cable are paid by the travel company.
# 5 Traveling to your Assignment - Lastly, you need to decide how you will travel to your assignment. If you plan to fly, you will want to check on transportation to and from work, which may entail looking up bus or subway routes. If you are driving, you will first want to determine your route, which is made easy now with almost any mapping website. You should also consider a GPS unit (usually standard on any smart phone and one of a traveler's most valuable tools). And no travel nurse should ever be without a road atlas (piece of mind at a cost of less than $10). There is nothing worse than having no phone signal and you can’t pull up your map on your phone or GPS!
Remember a good recruiter will help you though this whole process. Pick someone you can trust and that you feel will help you in a time of need, but also make this process as smooth as possible. While a good recruiter can make this painless, it is ALWAYS a good idea to double check everything for your own piece of mind. Summit Medical Staffing is dedicated to help travel nurses have the best experience possible. We hope these tips help you in planning your next assignment. Traveling as a healthcare professional should be a rewarding and memorable experience.