If you’re new to the healthcare travel world, getting started can seem like the hardest part. Before you dive in, there’s a ton of research to be done before you ever sign a contract. But after that contract is signed, stuff gets real. Use these 10 travel tips during your newbie assignment and everyone will think you’re an old pro at this travel thing.
Keep Yourself Organized with Kamana
Experienced healthcare travelers understand what it means to travel and all the documents that come along with it. You’ll need all your documents, such as your Social Security card, nursing license for each state you travel to (or a compact license), your resume, as well as medical records, recommendations and so much more. Dragging around a huge paper file with all this info can be a hassle, as well as a logistical nightmare if it gets left behind somewhere. Enter Kamana.
Kamana is a place to hold all these documents, digitally. You can upload all previous job information, as well as licenses, digital versions of your medical records and everything else that would stay in that old paper file, all in a secure online spot. When you need to send a resume to your recruiter or even a new recruiter, you can simply share your profile and they’ll have all the information needed with just one click.
Healthcare travelers need to be especially flexible. It is practically part of their job description! When you’re going to different locations throughout the country every 13 weeks, you definitely need to go with the flow. Start date changes, housing challenges and last-minute facility requests can all come through, which means you’ll need to be able to pivot at a moment’s notice.
When you move every 13 weeks, you need to pack strategically. Do you really need a giant TV or will a laptop or tablet be enough? What about silverware, dishes, pots and pans or other kitchen items? Do you need a full set of silverware and dishes or will a small set of 3-4 of each item work? Same with clothing—obviously, you want as many sets of scrubs or work clothes so you don’t have to do laundry every other day, especially if where you’re living doesn’t have easy access to a washer and dryer.
Be Careful with Leases
Leases can be great. There’s something about knowing that you have a stable place to call home for a few months while you’re on assignment. However, what if it goes badly? Then you’re stuck somewhere. That’s why most healthcare travelers don’t recommend signing a lease for the first week of your assignment. This way you can check it out in person before committing yourself to a living situation that’s unclean, unsafe or just too far from the facility. While a hotel or an extended stay might be slightly more expensive, it can save you more than money.
Some travelers come in with the attitude that they’re not at their assignment to make friends. And that’s fine! You’re moving every few months, so you don’t need to worry about making a bestie in every location. However, there’s a difference between being friendly and trying to become BFFs with everyone you meet. Go into each assignment with an open mind and treat your new coworkers with a friendly attitude.
Of course, if you do love becoming buddies with your new coworkers, do! Our hearts are warmed when we hear of a facility throwing their travelers a goodbye party.
Don’t Forget About Your Recruiter
Even when you’re early on in an assignment, don’t forget to check in with your recruiter, especially if you know right away that you do or do not want to extend. Your recruiter will know when to start looking for something new or talk to the facility about extending.
Traveling means checking out new parts of the country, even if your main motivation is a higher paycheck (nothin’ wrong with that). If you’re in a new place, make sure to explore and enjoy yourself. Try local foods and restaurants, hit some local attractions and enjoy yourself when you’re not working.
Stay Connected with Friends and Family
Staying connected when you’re far from home is easier than ever now. FaceTime and Zoom, as well as texting can make you feel like you’re still in the same city as your friends and family. If you can swing it and are in a great location, see if you can have a buddy join you for a couple days if you have a block of days off work. Everything is more fun with a friend.
Some travelers are even lucky enough to bring a partner or spouse with them as they travel. If your partner has a work from home job and a little bit of flexibility, see if they can come along. They can work from your temporary home and the two of you can have some fun on your days off.
Ask Questions when Necessary
While travelers are expected to hit the floor running, sometimes you have to ask questions. Every unit stores supplies in a different way or may have a preferred way of handling certain tasks or jobs. Make sure to ask questions if you need to so you can best take care of your patients.
Don’t Wait Too Long to Find Your Next Assignment
Lastly, don’t wait too long to find a new assignment! If you know you want to go somewhere new immediately without a break in between, you should start your search about six weeks before you want to start. This will give you the chance to decide where you want to go, have your recruiter look for a good assignment and then go through the interview and compliance process. You may need to take care of some compliance tasks like a drug test or health screening during your days off, but your compliance person should be able to find facilities in your local area so you don’t have to drive or fly home to your permanent address.
Experienced pros, is there anything else you’d add? If you’re a current Triage traveler, join our exclusive Facebook group and share your tips and tricks with brand new Triage travelers. Looking for a new job? Our allied and travel nurse jobs board lists current openings.