Ftravel nursing storiesor those contemplating the travel nurse field: The best way to learn about the travel nursing field is from those who are actually in the travel nursing trenches.  

The following are the travel nursing stories that have been sent to me by other traveling nurses.

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Adele from Alabama

Adele is a NICU/PICU nurse from Alabama who values a great recruiter and a good salary.  She has been traveling for almost five years and is currently with Med Staff.  She feels lucky in that she has not been in an unfriendly hospital so far.  Her favorite city has been Honolulu, Hawaii.

Her first experience was in Lafayette, Louisiana, on the telemetry floor.  The staff was really glad that she was there and there were no unrealistic expectations.  The physicians, lab, radiology, and pharmacy were the best.  She would go back in a heartbeat.

Her advice for a traveler is, “Do not get involved in politics.  Don’t suggest policy.  Know what their policies are. Don’t discuss your agency with anyone but other travelers. And always remember if it’s too good to be true it is. A big bonus means you will earn it! Remember that you can do anything for thirteen weeks.”

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 Patricia from Florida

Patricia is a critical care nurse from Florida who places location and money as most important with benefits next.  She has been traveling two to five years in an RV and is currently with Medical Staffing Solutions.  Her favorite city has been Great Falls, Montana.

About her first time she writes, “Well my anxiety level was so high before my first travel assignment that I went to my MD with chest pain and insisted on a cardiac workup before I hit the road for fear I would have a heart attack. He sent me home with Buspar, which I only needed to take until my second day on the job. I went to Great Falls, Montana and the people were so friendly and supportive that it made my mind up, traveling was definitely the way to go for me. Because my husband and I travel with an RV (5th Wheel), we always have our home away from home. And we have seen many beautiful National Parks, which one of my priorities for traveling. I have not visited all the sites I want to yet, and that means I am not done traveling. But I am taking a respite to do some recruiting for my company. The only problem with my new job is I want to be the one going to all the places I am offering to my clients.”

For the first time traveler she says, “Just Do It!!! Be Flexible, and Have Fun. There are so many things to see and do when you travel.  Do not let money be your only motivator. Get to know and enjoy the people you work with, I have made some lifelong friends with people I met while traveling. Enjoy your life and live it fully everyday.  Always find something good to remember each day.  This country is very large, there is so much to see and do, so have fun while you work, it makes working more worthwhile. I can tolerate a lot when I can go have fun or see some new and exciting place on my days off. Enjoy!!” 

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Jean from Nevada

Jean is an ER nurse from Nevada with a few years of experience from Nevada who places money and benefits as top priority.  Her favorite city has been Lebanon, New Hampshire, and her least favorite has been Burlington, Vermont.

Her first travel experience was excellent.  The hospital was extremely traveler friendly and the manager helped out in every way that she could.

Her advice to a first time traveler would be to be very careful about taking an assignment far from home.  She has heard many horror stories about being stuck someplace because the hospital cancelled the contract.

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 Julie from Louisiana

Julie is an ER nurse from Louisiana who places salary and recruiter as her top priorities in choosing an assignment.  She has been traveling for over two years and is currently with RN Network.  Her favorite city has been Rancho Mirage, California, and her least favorite has been San Jose, California.

Her first travel experience was at a teaching hospital. It was her first contact with medical students and residents. It was an eye opening experience. She had to prove herself to the staff. Going from an ER where she was the mentor to having to prove herself and skills was intimidating and frustrating. It was hard to step back and realize that things can be done differently, some more effective and many not as effective, as what she was used to doing. Most of the nursing staff was young and inexperienced. Being older was a disadvantage at this facility. Socially she did not fit in. This bothered her at first but quickly vanished. Looking back, her first assignment was a positive experience.

What would she like to tell a first timer?  “Just remember, as a traveler you are only there to work, not to change anything. The staff can get defensive if you tell them, “Where I am from we do it differently.” You are on their territory. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.  I have seen many travelers fail because of this.” 

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Marleen from Arizona

Marleen is an ER nurse from Arizona who places salary and benefits as top priorities.  She has been traveling for almost ten years.  She prefers the standard one bedroom apartment.  Currently she is traveling with Nightingale.  She has loved everyplace that she has gone to, besides feeling a little out of place in Palm Springs, California. 

Her first travel assignment was in Richmond, Kentucky.  Although the town was very small, it was a gem of a job related to the great people that she met during her seven month tenure there.

She strongly encourages nurses to hit the road because it is the best way to see the country then the world.  You meet the best people and can have a blast living your dream.

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 Maria from Michigan

Maria is an ER nurse from Michigan who ranks an honest recruiter and benefits as most important.  She has been traveling for a year and has been with Aureus Medical and Nurses RX.  She takes the one bedroom housing option.  Her favorite city has been Denver, with Fort Lauderdale being her least favorite related to the lack of parks and recreation.

Her first assignment was great with Holy Cross Hospital.  It was traveler friendly and wanted her to extend.  The hospital was a big and unorganized, but everyone was really nice including the doctors.  If she liked Florida enough, she would go back to Holy Cross Hospital.  She made a handful of friends, but did not like her recruiter related to the fact that she never called her back.  The hospital made her feel very welcome!  She enjoyed her first assignment.

Her advice for a first timer would be to talk to other travel nurses and get a hold of a couple travel nurse magazines.  Breathe and hold on for the time of your life.  She is living her dream and loving it.  Don’t go with the attitude that you are better or know more.  Not all assignments are bad.  Don’t be afraid to switch companies.  They need you much more than you need them.  But most of all get out and enjoy the place you’re at. 

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Mary from California

Mary is a medical/surgical nurse from California who has been traveling less than a year with location and salary being top priority.  She is currently traveling with Preferred Healthcare and a suite for housing is just fine.  Her favorite assignment has been Saddleback Memorial in Laguna Hills, California, with Mission Viejo being her least favorite assignment.

About her first assignment she states, “I took the first company that offered me an assignment.  Later on the same day I got two other calls. I should have waited. The nursing staff was wonderful and unless you told them they thought you were staff just like they were. The nurse manager and company was another story. Most of them were non-smiling, sarcastic, and kept the office door locked which made them seem unavailable. The nurse manager never returned my phone calls, never answered my notes, or ever shows up on my shift.  It was a very isolating experience.

The lack of organization and  the way they kept track of assignments added to the stress level. I was told they would meet staffing ratios on med-surg of 5-1 but they did not on several occasions. The travel company told me there would always be a clinical resource nurse available, yet when I needed one when I was given an unsafe assignment. I called the answering service who never called back. Then the hospital without warning terminated me after a 12-hr shift.”

She would like to remind travelers to make sure that you have a clause in your contract that states if the hospital backs out of contract without cause they pay all charges. Also refuse to start work till the contract is just the way you want it, and don’t forget to have staffing ratios and scheduling written into your contract.

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 Anonymous from Texas

An anonymous pediatric nurse from Texas who has been traveling for over two years with Med Staff tells me that her favorite city has been Seattle, Washington, with her least favorite being Corpus Christi, Texas.  Her least favorite hospitals have been Doctor’s Regional Medical Center and Phoenix Children’s.

For the first timer she recommends that you compare, compare, and compare again by make a spreadsheet with what each company tells you about their benefits and everything that is important to you. Look that over carefully before making your final decision.

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 Debbie from Idaho

Debbie from Idaho is a Med/Surg nurse who has been traveling for a year with a great recruiter and great benefits listed as her priorities.  She travels along the road in her RV and works for American Mobile.  Her first assignment was in California, which she loved related to the nurse to patient ratio. 

About her first assignment she states, “I am just about to finish my first assignment so my story is not complete… However, I had a defining moment last night when I was floated to the Oncology unit with no oncology experience. On top of that, I discovered I would only be there for 4 hrs and then be sent to the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit (I am a med/surg nurse from a small town hospital in Idaho). In the middle of those first 4 hours I was so close to tears as I struggled to care for my patients properly. I thought to myself “welcome to the real world of travel nursing, the honeymoon is now officially over” Up until that time my assignment had seemed idyllic. However, a reassessment this morning found me still thinking that this travel nursing is a good thing, a good choice for me and my husband. I will be doing some research on oncology and bone marrow transplants and turn this into an opportunity for growth. No one promised me this would be a piece of cake, but I still feel it is definitely worth it!”

She would tell a newbie to be sure to interview the nurse manager of the hospital that you are considering.  Ask them more questions than they ask you.  Develop a list of questions and decide what the most important reason for taking the assignment is.

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 Jennifer from California

Jennifer is a Med/Surg nurse from California who has been traveling for almost two years.  She places location and money as top priorities.  She prefers the one bedroom housing that she receives with Medstaff.  Her favorite city has been Honolulu, Hawaii.

Her first travel experience was living in Los Angeles, Marina Del Rey and working in Beverly Hills at Cedar Sinai absolutely amazing and scared to death at the same time! The salary was really good with an awesome one bedroom furnished paid for apartment.  Los Angeles was too superficial for her, but she had a blast shopping and partying in Hollywood! Travel nursing is so liberating. It makes you feel like you can do anything.

She urges new traveling nurses to research the companies before committing to one.  It can be tough to come back after being burned badly.

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 Pauline from Alabama

 Pauline is a Med/Surg and Post Partum RN from Alabama who has been traveling for almost one year and ranks salary and location as being most important to her.  She travels with Nursing Innovations and takes the one bedroom housing provided to her.

About her first assignment she writes, “My first assignment was in a town called Needles, California, which is a small hospital with 35 beds.  Only one medical floor, so you would have pediatrics, mother/baby and general med/surg all at the same time. There were very rarely any nursing assistants at night and I was frequently in charge with only licensed vocational nurses that were not IV certified.  But, with that said the people were very friendly, they took me in as one of their own and gave me a big party when I left. It had some issues, but it was still a good first travel assignment because I didn’t feel like my license was in jeopardy because the patients who were really sick got transferred out. So, all things considered, it was a good experience.”

Although living in a hotel wasn’t the best of situations, you do get your room cleaned every day, and you don’t have to worry about your company getting back their security deposit, but you can’t control what time of day they clean your room. That’s important if you work at night. Another drawback is that people are more active in the daytime (a night worker’s sleep time) and it is very noisy, which isn’t the best of situations for a night shift person who is sleeping during the day.  If you work dayshift, it may not be so bad.

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Mary  from North Carolina

Mary  from North Carolina is a surgical nurse who has six to ten years of experience as a travel nurse.  She loves her great recruiter at Elite Travel Nurse and stays in a one bedroom fully furnished apartment.

Her favorite cities have been Bradenton, Florida, Ormond Beach, Florida, and Nashville, Tennessee.  Her least favorite city has been Gainesville, Florida and Charleston, South Carolina.

Her first assignment was in Deland, Florida, in a Birthcare Center.  The staff for the most part was great.  Always have to have that one or two that make life miserable for everybody.  She worked three twelve-hour shifts and had the rest of the time to go to the beach and roam around Daytona Beach.  She renewed a second contract.  She has been traveling since 1999 and loves it.  Each assignment has it’s up and down’s.  You just trade a little of this for a little of that.  She agrees with the others on here that you sometimes have to go with the flow.  Sometimes you just can’t give up your work ethic, honesty and especially sterile technique for the sake of that old saying that all facilities have, “that is just the way we do it here.”  That is crap.  She will never compromise patient care and sterile technique for anybody!  That is when it is time to move on, when a facility puts your license on the line.

The following is what she has to say about the places that she has been to and what she would tell a first timer.  “Compare companies!  When you decide where you want to travel, call several companies and compare rates, benefits and housing.   Make sure your contracted hours, benefits, hourly rate, time off, and on call, are on the contract!  Check out your housing as soon as you get the address.  Call the local police department, better business bureau, and ask around.  Not all housing is in safe areas or an area you want to live in!  Companies are out for themselves, generally.  They are out there to make money off of you!  Most all companies I have worked for will not take up for you when you have problems at the facility!!  They are not going to put their contract on the line for you! 

At the assignment in Melbourne, Florida, they hated travelers there and hid food from us, told us to our faces that they hated travelers.

 In Charleston, South Carolina, I had two staff members talk to me the whole time I was there.  The place was like a tomb.

Ormond Beach was a great assignment for a while.  There was a select bunch of staff that saw to it that travelers got all the crap cases and they bad mouthed the travelers to the doctors.  The docs were great and most of the staff was too.  I have heard that most of the bad eggs are gone now!  No direction in management there at all.  The town is great and the job is doable.

The best assignment I ever had was at Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  The staff made you feel so welcome.  They included you in everything and wanted you to feel a part of the team.

Shands in Gainesville, Florida I would not recommend.  If you are not a real seasoned person and tough on the exterior you will never make it there.  The technology is the best that I have ever seen, but the doctors are the meanest and most hateful that I have ever seen and the staff is the worst to work with.  By the time my contract was almost over, I was welcomed by some of the staff that never knew they had a traveler.  HA!  There are no welcome’s here…  No orientation at all…  And the technology is way over the heads of most. 

I think the thing I am the sickest about in healthcare is the fact that the new graduates, the young bunch don’t have a work ethic and manners are lacking.  They seem not to have a clue as to why they are at work.  They mostly think that they are there to socialize and be cute.  Patient care…  what is that?  Attitudes!  Management anymore is a thing of the past.  So, if you are looking for a good time only, take a vacation.  IF you are looking for a career in healthcare, and are sincere about patient care and want to see the world, get some good experience under your belt and travel.  It is great and the way to go.  I would highly recommend it.  And please healthcare managers and recruiters…  check the experience level and confirm that these travelers can do what they say.  It sure makes it hard on the rest of us with experience (24 years here) when they lie and you don’t check it out! 

Beware of companies that continually change staff.  I had three recruiters with First Assist in less than 6 months.  I got home from work one night, after working 16 hours and on call to no electricity.  They forgot to pay the bill!  It was bike week and I like to have never found a motel room!  And if you have problems with the facility sending the documentation to this company, you are wasting your time.  They will not back you up or go to bat for you!

What I look for after all these years is traveling is location first, money and then benefits.  I am not taking an assignment that I have to pay for housing.  Too many companies give you free private housing, and I am not working for a company that wants you to trade pieces of furniture for something else.  A close friend of mine was going to work for Med Staff and they were trading lamps and tables for other items!! 

Companies I have traveled with that are great are…  Cross Country, Elite Travel Nurses, and Intelistaf.  I have talked to a lot of different companies and recruiters.  Sign up with several to make sure you get the assignment you want and the benefits that you deserve!!!”

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 Amanda from Mississippi

Amanda is a Surgery nurse from Mississippi who places location and a great recruiter as most important to her.  Traveling with a family, she takes a two bedroom apartment.  She has been a traveler for almost five years.  Although she once traveled with RN Network, she currently is traveling with Cirrus Medical Staffing.  Her favorite assignment has been in Dayton, Ohio, with her least favorite being in Smithfield, NC.

Her first hospital was great.  They so wanted her there, and really made her feel like she would like a valued staff member.  Travel nursing, however, has a greater pull for her; in that, she loves the wages and time off.  She can put up with anything for thirteen weeks.

“If you are adaptable, dependable, think on your feet, and are willing to work, travel nursing just may be the perfect job for you. Keep a notebook handy, and always find out who, what, where, when, and how much about everything. (That includes jobs, hospitals, paperwork, taxes, benefits, expectations, reimbursements, bonuses, contracts, and anything else you can think of). Get an accountant, keep a file cabinet, make a mileage log for tax deductions, and save receipts! Your recruiter can be your best friend or your worst nightmare; make sure you know what to do if things go wrong, and I highly recommend visiting Cirrus Medical Staffing,” is her advice to a new travel nurse.

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 May from New Mexico

May is an operating room nurse from New Mexico who places benefits a great recruiter as most important.  She has been traveling for almost two years in her RV and loves it.  Her least favorite hospital was in Spring Hill, Florida, and her favorite place was in Socorro, New Mexico.

It was in Socorro where she took on her first assignment for nine months.  She went hiking, riding and fossil hunting.  She also rustled cactus, checked out the birding scene, and enjoyed the great restaurants in the area. Great area, everyone is friendly and waves to you on the road, the patients are nice, and the hospital small and easy to work with.

What would she tell a first timer?  “Keep on your recruiter, and make sure they work for their share of your pay. Don’t be a complainer and go with the flow as long as it is positive. Set an example if you can of a professional most of all, and do not get involved in politics! Don’t stay longer and if you do take weeks off between extensions.”

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 Susan from New Mexico

Susan is an OR nurse from New Mexico.  She ranks a great recruiter and salary as top priorities.  She has been traveling for almost five years and takes the one bedroom furnished housing.  She is currently traveling with TVL Healthcare.  Her favorite city so far has been Tucson, Arizona, with her least favorite being Georgetown, South Carolina.

Her first travel nursing assignment was horrible.  The hospital was in an isolated community and very much behind the times in theory.  The surgeons were basically bad.  It was the longest thirteen weeks of her life!

Her suggestions to a first timer include:  “Be flexible and polite.  You are a guest, even if you tell yourself, I’ll never come back here.  Remember that circumstances change; don’t burn your bridges.  Find outside activities to de-stress yourself on a bad assignment.  Keep your salary to yourself or discuss it with other travelers for comparison only.  I have recruited other RNs for my company this way, because they pay so well and they treat their nurses well.”

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 Patricia from Georgia

Patricia Garner is a med/surg nurse from Georgia who ranks salary and benefits as most important.  She prefers the one bedroom housing.  She has been traveling for under a year with American Mobile.  Her favorite place so far has been Santa Barbara, California.

Her first experience was a real learning experience.  The staff was not very friendly at first, but by the time she had left it had improved.”

What would she tell a first timer?   “Visit the forums and learn everything you can. Decide what is really important to you and do not settle for less, there are too many opportunities out there. Interview many companies and stick to your guns. And remember if they are offering big bucks and bonuses you probably do not want to go there.”

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 Linda from Maryland

Linda is a med/surg nurse from Maryland who ranks a wonderful recruiter and salary as her top priorities.   She currently travels with Cirrus Medical.  Her favorite city has been Oakland, California, with her least favorite being Crescent City, California.

This is what she writes about her first experience, “I have been a nurse for a long time. I had seen so many patient families not wanting to be involved that it was so great to see and work with other cultures that were and are totally involved in their families no matter what.  This reminded me of why I wanted to be a nurse. I also enjoyed seeing parts of the country in a great way. I met new friends that I will always remember. I think that I grew during my time in Oakland being that I was on the other side of the country.”

Her suggestions to a first timer include finding out where you are going to live, reading your contract closely and making sure that it includes what was verbally agreed upon.  If it isn’t in the contract, you will have no leg to stand on later if there is a disagreement.  Do not let any agency say that they don’t have to put in a contract what is on the website, I can tell you it is not so.

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 Pam from Mississippi

Pam is a cardiac cath lab nurse from Mississippi who places a great recruiter as top priority with salary running a close second.  She has been traveling for six years and is currently with Abetta Care.  Her favorite cities have been Denver, Colorado, New York, New York, and Anchorage, Alaska, with Green Bay, Wisconsin being her least favorite.

About her first assignment she writes, “My first assignment, St. Thomas, U.S.V.I, was a disaster!!! I worked 10 days in ICU and quit. I could have lost my license on any given day. I was left alone with Geriatric, Pediatric and GI bleeders with no meds or orders. I called the doctor for some direction. He returned my call three hours later and was drunk! Told me to do what ever I thought best. That was six years ago and I understand that things have improved since RLS hospital is now JACHO certified. They are in the process of opening a Cardiac Cath Lab and I have been contacted to return!!!”

Here are just a few thoughts from a six year traveler. The rest will come through trial and error no matter how much research you do:  (1) Stay out of politics at the hospital.  (2) Do not try to change the protocol.  (3) Your way of doing things is probably different from the hospital where you are assigned.  You just have to adjust and do it their way!  (4)  Don’t ever take sides where there are differences in opinion concerning any issue.  (5) Always do more than is expected of you. (6) There are always going to be “bad” assignments out here. If there is any way possible to adjust, remember, you will be gone in a few weeks and those people will still be there having to deal with the miserable situation for a long, long time.  (7) Absolutely no gossip!

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 Bonita from Virginia

Bonita is a telemetry and step-down nurse who travels with Clinical One.  Her favorite places have been Las Vegas and Los Angeles, with her least favorite being New Orleans.  She places her priorities on a great recruiter and a great location.

Her first travel assignment was at Citrus Memorial in Inverness, Florida, which was a small hosp (less than 200 beds). It was a very traveler friendly hospital, but you float all over.  The only place she did not float to was pediatrics and that is because they did not have one. It was great.

Her advice to a new traveler is to be flexible and enjoy the ride. And remember if you absolutely hate a place, it is only for 13 weeks, and we nurses can do anything for 13 weeks 🙂

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 Samuel from Mississippi

Samuel is an emergency room nurse from Mississippi who has been traveling almost two years.  He places salary and benefits as number one and takes the housing stipend.  His current company is Valley Healthcare Systems.  His favorite city has been Sacramento, California, with his least favorite being Bakersfield, California.

His first assignment was very difficult but doable.  The hospital was not clear about standards of care and limits; therefore, fulfilling their expectations was slow going at first.

He would tell first timers to beware!  “You are not there to make changes or correct any mistakes. Make sure you do not compare their hospital with any other you have been to… in any way!  Remember you get to leave when your contract is up, but the full time staff are there every day and no one likes to think they and/or their hospital are sub standard.”

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 Pat from New York

Pat is from New York, works in the emergency room and has been traveling for almost five years.  He places salary and location as number one.  He takes the two bedroom housing provided by Global RN.  His favorite places have been Atlantic City, New Jersey, Springfield, Maryland, Lancaster, California, Chino, California, and Bakersfield, California.  His least favorite was when he traveled to Wheeling, West Virginia with American Mobile.

His first travel job was a strike, and he will never do one again.  In fact, he almost didn’t travel as a result.  The replacement nurses carry a knife around to stick in your back. It was a horrible experience. The nurses on strike were fine. It was the ones he had to work with that were awful. All they wanted to do was put in hours. Come in; sign in, go home and friends cover for them. He has never seen such dishonesty among nurses.

Now that all he does is real travel assignments, he is having the time of his life. He would tell all new travelers to invest in a great digital camera to make memories and a good laptop to lug around. As for work, you are there as a guest for 13 weeks. You aren’t going to make any changes so don’t stress about it. No gossip, no taking sides, no playing politics. Go have fun and enjoy the area and a different way of doing things. It is all good. 

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JoAnn from Pennsylvania

JoAnn has been traveling for almost two years and currently is with Cross Country.  She works on telemetry floor, lives in a one bedroom apartment, and places top priority on location and salary.  Her favorite city has been Glendale, California, with her least favorite being Kaiser-West in Los Angeles.

Her first assignment with Trustaff at Glendale Memorial Hospital was difficult at first, it took awhile but staff warmed up and it was an excellent hospital with good ratios related to the fact that there are laws in California mandating nurse to patient ratios in specialties.

Her advice to a first timer includes, “Stand your ground and don’t take any crap. Beware of Kaiser Hospital in West Los Angeles; they have certainly earned their reputation for treating travel nurses terribly.  Took three hours for stat labs, there were never any supplies and if you needed a med, you were told to come down and get it from Pharmacy.  Often there were no nursing assistants or ward clerks. The only good thing I can say about it were the doctors.  They were very nice. If a hospital offers a big bonus…. beware.”

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Alexandria from the United Kingdom

Alexandria is originally from the United Kingdom, but now calls Alabama home.  She has been traveling for almost two years and works on the post anesthesia care unit, same day surgery, and the emergency room.  She places salary and recruiter as being most important.

About her first travel nursing experience she writes, “It was my first time, and I saw just how ruthless nurses can be. The SDS and PACU were four bed units, and tended to be a very clannish atmosphere. They changed the rules everyday. No compassion for others and no respect. I was asked in the beginning to extend, but by the end of the assignment I was counting hours to get out of there! The managers are leave something to be desired. The head of surgery was worst of the bunch. She did not listen. No compromise at all. The manager told “rumors” to my recruiter about things I had no idea about. We had one conference to tell me what was expected of me. I saw her a total of four times and yet she had the nerve to evaluate me.  I was very flexible in working hours. You can bend over backwards, and sometimes it doesn’t work! My recruiter was great, but at the end of the day the company I was with, listened to the department manager I had seen only four times. She only spoke to me two of those times! They believed her and took her word over mine.”

Her advice to a first timer is, “You can be flexible and help, but remember you are out there on your own. No one knows what goes on in the unit except you. Talk to other travelers if you get the chance and listen to what they have to say.  Trust no one. Think about why you are there and remember sometimes that no matter what you do some people are just not going to like you. Try to not wear your feelings on your sleeve.

As nurses we are supposed to be professionals, but that is not always the case. People are people no matter where you go or what you do. There are going to be the troublemakers, gossip mongers and occasionally nice people. Hold your head up and be strong in your beliefs. Stand up for what you think is right. I have always said I would NOT put my license on the line for anyone! So don’t sacrifice your principles for others.

Be individual, don’t allow them to compare you to other travelers, it is not fair. Don’t even allow your recruiter to compare you, because you are different from them. Let them know you are there to help, but won’t be walked on. We are guests, but even guests get a little respect. Remember respect is earned not given freely. There will always be politics in the hospitals, but try not to take sides or get caught up in them. It is not easy. Just know that when you have done your best you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Use all your resources to your advantage. Have fun and make the best out of a bad situation at all times. There is always two sides to every story, be willing to listen and take note. I have researched the travel business and I must say so far I can not name but one company that lived up to my expectations. At least the recruiter I worked with did.  Check out the hospital like they check you out. Above all read what is here! It is valuable information!”

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Gloria from California

Gloria writes to me that she is a Cardiovascular ICU nurse with her two main important categories as the recruiter and the money.  She would rather have the money than the housing provided by her company.  She has been traveling for 2-5 years, and at the writing of this book is with Compassionate Care.  Her most pleasurable experiences have been in San Francisco, California, with her horror city being listed as Brockton, Massachusetts, and the Miriam and Rhode Island Hospitals.

Her first travel assignment was a strike at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angels, CA. It was a great experience in terms of money, but not so good in terms of dealing with the anger experienced from the nurses on strike. I was use to working days, and the assignment was for nights. There were no days off. I was completely dependent on the van of the travel agency to get me around. I did enjoy the lodging accommodations and the excitement of being on standby to board a plane to fly out to a city I had always wanted to see and be in a state I had always dreamed of seeing. Although, I did not have a lot of time to see LA, our group did find time to go and see Hollywood, and have lunch there….  I enjoyed it so much, and made more money in 4 nights of work, than I made in 2 weeks at my job in Dallas.  After that I came home, gave my 2 weeks notice, and started traveling.  That was April of 2000, and I am still traveling.

Her advice to a first time traveler includes:  I think that a traveler needs to be more flexible and open to change.  In terms of orientation, well that is nice and should be considered like icing on a cake; meaning it makes the cake taste a bit better, but without it…it is still the cake…another words…whether they tell you how things work or where things are it is still work!!  They are short, they need you to be able to pick up the ball, and run with it…and that is the bottom line…remember what I said about being, flexible?

I have learned that there are nurses who don’t like me, not because of who I am, but because of how much more money they think that I am making.

I have learned that first impressions really do matter. That one staff nurse can make or break you.

Also, that it can be very lonesome travelling. That sometimes this loneliness can drive you to participate in activities you never thought you were capable of.

You have to learn to do what is expected of you, above and beyond what the staff nurses expect of themselves, even if they have not told you that before or not.

Sometimes, the work load is so heavy that you feel that you are not going to be able to bear one more moment at this assignment…and there is really no one that you can share that with. If you do they will see you as a complainer, and weak…in my experience I usually saw a change in the way they would treat me from that time on. So, from then on I kept my comments to myself.  Trusting no one but myself! It has worked for me.

I have found that some nurses are in competition with me; to prove some how that they are superior.  I do not participate in their silly antics.  The competition regarding knowledge and skill is always so prevalent.

When your assignment is over…it is nice if the facility asks you to extend, but not essential for your self-esteem. You must feel good in the good and the bad that you accomplished on this assignment, and you are the best judge of that. Even if you feel that you have done a good job, sometimes there are nurses who do not want you to be there and work very hard to sabotage you.

I want to end this by talking about the recruiters out there. I have worked with a couple of really good recruiters. It is true that if they are willing to work with you, it will be a good experience, but it goes both ways also. I have learned that if a recruiter does not return my calls or my email that it is best to get a new recruiter or a new agency.  I usually give them one chance now, and then if it happens twice…  I move on.  Lost time can sometimes be the difference between not getting the money and assignment that you were hoping for.

I think that if I had not travelled I would not be a nurse any longer. The time that I have been traveling has taught me so many things about being a nurse.  It has improved my confidence, taught me what to ask for, how to ask for it…and when to ask it…and even more important.  I am worth it! Don’t let them intimidate you!   Have confidence in your nursing skills!  Thanks for listening…and the best of luck to you!!!

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Beth from Florida

Beth is an OR nurse with her top priorities listed as money and benefits.  She currently receives the housing stipend that her travel company provides and travels around in her recreational vehicle.  She has been a travel nurse for two to five years and is currently with Preferred Health Care Staffing.    Her favorite hospital was located in Portland, Oregon, with her least favorite hospital located in Columbia, Missouri.

Her first travel nursing experience was with MedStaff and she went to Portland, Oregon.  I signed with MedStaff and went to Portland, OR.  What a great city.  I worked at OHSU in the OR 3p-1130p.  The staff was so friendly and supportive.  They made me feel right at home.  There were lots of other travellers there, too.  They taught me a lot about how to negotiate an assignment. 

OHSU is a level one-trauma center with lots of residents and interns.  The attendants are great to work in the midst of with lots of interdisciplinary respect and cohesion.  I had never worked in a setting like that.  The overall experience made me realize I wanted to be a travel nurse for as long as the deal lasted.  That was May 2000 and I’m still travelling.  Have been coast to coast, but still feel I have a lot to learn about this field.

What she would like to tell a first time traveller is not to be afraid to apply to more than one company.  Do your research and pick out 5 or 6 that appeal to you best.  Tell the other companies what the others are offering and try to build the best package.  If you have experience and feel you deserve more, then work for it.  Don’t settle.

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Katie from Canada

Katie writes that she started travelling two years ago when I was unhappy were I was in my life.  I’d been living in this small town for 5 years since graduating from my nursing program.  I loved the people I worked with but hated the politics within the job at the time.  I didn’t feel like I had my own identity, which I need so much in order to grow and grow-up.  I started nursing school @ 17 and have lived on my own since that time.  I had a very small (<20) group of friends and felt I needed to meet new people outside of the small town “crew” to do that growing.

I am Canadian so North Carolina has reciprocity with our license therefore I am working in North Carolina. I have only worked in two different hospitals since starting travelling.  Cape Fear Valley in Fayetteville, NC and Pitt County in Greenville, NC.  Both places have been very welcoming to travel nurses.  I work night as that minimizes the “politics” from management, as there isn’t any on night shift.  I work in Canada 6months and in the USA 6 months.

I am frequently asked why I continue to travel.  That’s not an easy answer.  It is very difficult to be away from family for so long.  But I do get to see places I probably would never have seen and met friends I will have forever.  I was able to also become completely debt free, which is a huge bonus.  The pay is better and having housing paid for is a huge plus.