By Hina Kamadia
Typically, to work as a travel nurse, you need at least one year of work experience as a nurse in an acute care hospital setting. However, the more experience you have in a variety of areas, the more options you have in choosing the hospital and the city you may want to live in.
For example, if you like pediatrics, and you would like to do an assignment in Jacksonville, FL, it is possible that there may not be a position open in Jacksonville for Pediatrics. However, if you have some experience in pediatrics intensive care unit or neo-natal intensive care unit or even nursery, there is a higher chance that you will be able to find a job in those areas. If you have worked in only one area, you can still surely find a job, but it may not be the area you prefer. However, the more experience you have and the more familiar you are with other units, the easier is it to get the job most suitable for you because you will have more job opportunities to choose from.
In addition, often times, hospitals require travel nurses to float to other units when in need. Although they will provide the orientation to those units, it makes it easier for you to adjust when you have experience in more than one area. The more accommodating you are and the more comfortable you are in various areas, the more in demand you are by the hospital as well. Often times, after the first assignment, the hospital may even offer you another 13 week assignment, if you choose to stay.
Apart from the basic requirements to be a travel nurse, it is also important that you have the ability to adjust in a different environment and enjoy change. It is important that you are flexible, friendly and enjoy making new friends and trying new things. If you do not like constant change from city to city, you can also do local traveling where you stay in the same city but go to different hospitals for assignments.
In addition to having a positive attitude and the openness to change, there are few other things you will need to make sure your travel experience is all you want it to be.
1. Apply for the state license as soon you know where you want to go. That should be your first priority.
2. Pack lightly- take only what you need.
3. Be organized with all your documents: license, certifications, health records, and vaccinations, contracts with agencies, travel expenses and receipts you may need for travel reimbursements.
4. Have all the driving directions: to the apartment, to the hospital, etc.
5. Knowing what you want, where you want to go and how to negotiate with your recruiter and your hospital.
6. You will need a way for someone to take care of your stuff back home.
7. If you are planning on doing a few assignments, it might be a good idea to have mail forwarding service. This way you can have a permanent address and they will forward your mail wherever you go and you will not have to change your address every time you move.
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