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How to Maximize Your Potential as a Traveling Nurse

By Janet Fikany

It never fails to surprise me how many nurses express their frustration with the world of travel employment. Most often, they wonder why they aren't finding the assignments they want and deserve; they wonder why placements can take so long; and they wonder why their agencies aren't doing more to help.

It's understandable nurses feel like this. Finding the right opportunity can be a timely, stressful, or ultimately unfulfilling process, especially if their placement agency isn't putting in a lot of time on their behalf. However, what many nurses fail to realize is that to be successful as a travel nurse, there's some work that should be done on their part, too! As with any job, you will get out what you put in -- your potential is directly related to your involvement in the placement process. In light of all this, here are some tips to help guide nurses in being proactive during a job search to help find the best possible assignment each time.


First, always be prepared to demonstrate your qualifications at any time. Nursing placement agencies will need copies of your current Nursing, Operating-Room Technician, or Allied Health Professional licenses. You will need to show experience in your specialized field. And you will need to verify all of your certification, education, and experience. Candidates who are not prepared to verify their qualifications often end up with the less-desired positions.


Second, know what types of facilities are most desirable to you, and make your placement agency aware of this too. For instance, do you like teaching or non-teaching facilities? Large metro facilities or small rural hospitals? High or low volume staffs? If you make clear your preferences from the beginning, you are more likely to find placement in the type of work environment that best suits you.


Third, do your best to have a grasp of the time frame you are planning to remain. Although the industry standard for nursing assignments is a thirteen week period, many assignments may be shorter or longer. Know when you plan to leave, or if you'd like to apply for one or more extensions. When you give your placement agency this type of information, you give them the time they need to find you a position that fits your future and moving schedule.


Fourth, understand the concept of pay rates in the travel nursing business. In many cases, the higher paying positions offer more money for a reason. Before you accept a big pay position, make an attempt to understand why it is big pay. For some nurses, a pay increase is not worth working at hospitals with low nurse-to-patient ratios, extended emergency hours or extremely needy facilities. If you do this research before you accept an available position, you are less likely to step into something unexpected.


Fifth and finally, read the entire contents of your contract. Although, in the past, many travel nurses often worked around verbal agreements, contracts are absolutely necessary. Read over yours carefully. Contact your recruiter with any questions or concerns before signing. If anything is not specific enough, ask for changes. The more specific you are on contract details, the more control you have over your job assignment.

If you supply all this information, you will give your placement agency the tools to be able to effectively go to work for you and be there every step of the way. They will have everything they need to ensure you the best travel nursing experience possible. Most importantly, you will be satisfied to know that your extra commitment to your job future did indeed help you to maximize your potential as a successful travel nurse.

About The Author

Janet Fikany is a "Senior Placements Specialist" for HealthCare Staffing Network. For travel nursing advice, please visit HSN online at, or call toll free at 1-800-388-2610.


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