travel nursing stories

For 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.

Bobbye from Mississippi

Bobbye is a telemetry nurse that places her priorities on salary and location.  She takes the one bedroom housing paid for by Trinity Healthcare.  Her favorite city has been Mesa, AZ.

Her first traveling experience was at Banner Baywood hospital in Mesa, Az. The first thirteen weeks was like a honeymoon. She asked for single housing for her and her husband and they put her up in a three bedroom townhome on a beautiful golf course! The townhome was gorgeous and fully equipped! As far as the hospital goes, they had a nurse patient ratio of 1:5 max and they stuck to it, they had experienced charge nurses that were really helpful. They even had a monitor tech, which I find now not all hospitals have in telemetry. She made a lot of friends there, and she feels it is an excellent hospital.

Her helps for a first timer includes finding another nurse that works for the company you are thinking of working for and grill him/her on the how the company really works!!

 

Juanna from Michigan

Juanna is an intensive care nurse who places travels for the great location.  She has been traveling for under a year with bridge staffing.  Her overall experiences haven’t been so good with her disaster hospital listed as UCSF in San Francisco, CA.

During her phone interview with the UCSF ICU Nurse Manager, she stressed the fact that it was her first travel assignment as well as her first time working in the USA; therefore, she did not want an assignment where floating was involved.  The nurse manager confirmed both on the phone and in person that I wouldn’t float out of the unit, then she  was floated 50% of the time! .

She felt that her license and the patients she cared for were jeopardized on a regular basis. She addressed the issue with the nurse manager who “blackmailed” her into keeping her mouth shut or she would discontinue the contract (with all the financial penalties of housing for thirteen weeks in San Francisco for her to pay for.  She would have basically ended up paying to work!)  She kept a low profile. Fearing what was awaiting her every time she came in to work.  She decided to look at it as a challenge.  She worked hard and harder and had a lot of positive feedback from her colleagues. The nurse manager of her “home unit” interacted with her a total of five minutes over thirteen weeks. She remained extremely polite and respectful, even though she came all the way from Canada to California based on the nurse manager’s lies.  Nonetheless, she was “thanked” by this same nurse manager giving a bad reference to her future prospective employers.   It was overall a good experience work wise. It pushed her to her limits and she did learn a lot. Her agency gave her the assurance they were backing her up, but actually didn’t take any actions to correct the situation. As many others wrote, everything that is said should be written in the contract. Do not make the same mistake she made by trusting your recruiter/the hospital when they tell you that the contracts are standard and “such thing” (whatever concerns you) will/will not happen. She has heard one too many times the “trust me” sentence, and she was wrong to actually trust them when she knew that she wasn’t satisfied with what was (or wasn’t) written in the contract. Make sure you can get out of the contract without any financial penalty for you if the experience turns out to be less than satisfactory (and especially if it is disastrous or worse yet, dangerous). It looks like the agency you choose matters less than the recruiter you choose. Make him/ her spell out every detail and have it written down in your contract. Many things that were told to her orally by my recruiter did not happen and he later on denied saying it. It could be highly frustrating, and in my case, costly! It might only be thirteen weeks, but it could have major repercussion in your future too, so be extra careful. Protecting your practice and license isn’t that easy when you are between the rock and the hard place: you either do your best with what you have (most of the time, without what you actually need) or you just plain refuse the assignment and then you could be accused of endangering your patients by leaving them without a nurse. Both ways, you are stuck. So my best advice is: avoid any place that could potentially treat you this way, and if it still happens, make sure your contract allows you a way out.

 

Linda from Tennessee

Linda is a cardiac nurse who places her priorities on a great salary and benefits.  She takes the one bedroom paid for by National Healthcare.  In her almost five years of traveling, she includes Medstaff Inc a disaster company along with Baptist East in Memphis, TN, as being her disaster hospital with her least favorite city being Kingsport, TN.  Her favorite assignment was in Lebanon, NH.

On her first assignment, she had an average of fifteen patients per night in Memphis.  It was just awful and she felt like she was stuck in the assignment.  She would like to remind a first timer not to compare one place to another.  You must be adaptable and let things just roll off your back.  Remember, it is only thirteen weeks!

 

Elizabeth from Michigan

Elizabeth is a home health nurse who places her priorities on salary and benefits.  She has been traveling for over six years and is currently with Fastaff.

Her first experience was great. That is what made her decide to keep traveling. The hospital was friendly along with the staff. She learned lots about travel from listening to other travelers.

She would like to remind travelers to “Check out the companies before traveling. she got hooked up with Access Nurses. What a disaster! They were to pay for housing, utilities, etc. The hospital cancelled my contract along with five other travelers for ‘money’ reasons. The hospital then told Access Nurses a different story. So the Agency believed the hospital. They left her stranded in California and were not going to give her a paycheck because she did not complete the contract. She had to BEG to get enough money to fly back to Michigan.  Then they went her a bill for everything they had paid for–housing, housing deposit, utilities, drug screen, etc. The bill was almost $3000.00 and they immediately turned the bill over to a collection agency. They violated the contract by trying to charge her. No one at agency will take her phone calls. So, she had to get an attorney.   Lesson learned:  NEVER work for a company that is going to charge you a fee if your contract is cancelled!!

 

Lena from Florida

Lena is a labor and delivery nurse who places importance on a great recruiter and location.  She has been traveling for under a year and takes the one bedroom that is paid for.  So far, her favorite hospital has been Modesto, CA.

Her first assignment was great. She decided to make a total change and travel across the county. From day one she met fellow travelers and would enjoy doing activities with them. The hospital was great, very smooth sailing ship.  She absolutely loved the hospital!

She would like to remind first timers to get everything in writing, even if they told you one thing on the phone if its not in your contract the recruiter will act like it was never said. Research your companies and locations ahead of time and never go with a company if you don’t like the recruiter.

 

Teresa from California

Teresa is also a labor and delivery nurse who travels for the salary and recruiter as her priorities.  She takes her RV on assignments with Cross Country TraveCorps.  Her favorite hospitals have been Memorial in Modesto, CA, and Mt Sinai in Miami, FL.  Her least favorite hospital was Community Hospital of New Port Richey, RL.

Her first experience was in Rugby, ND.  She stayed for a year then went back home to finish her BSN.  Rugby was a terrific town with friendly people and a great staff.  Her hints to first timers include:  Research, research, research.  Keep your mouth shut for the first few weeks and work your butt off; then, you can relax a little. Even though most places are friendly toward travelers, you are still not a staff person, so be very careful about what you say and do…

 

Brenda from Alabama

Brenda is a long term care nurse who travels for the great salary and even takes the housing stipend.  She has been traveling with Nursefinders for a year.

About her first assignment she writes, “I came to Rhode Island as a First Travel Assignment. I worked at the Grand Islander in Middletown. I was accustomed to friendly Doctors and Nurses. Some of these Drs are rude and never call you back. Most of the staff was great but a few of the staff were horrible!! They bitched and whined about things that I thought were plain trifling! There was one incidence that I got blamed for something and there were several of their staff there that nothing was said to them. My recruiter I cannot say enough about Jackie!! She went above and beyond for her and would go to bat for her in a heartbeat! I shall miss her when my 13 weeks is up! I extended for 1 week and that is it! I will be glad to be home for a few weeks before I hit the road again. All in all it has been a Great learning experience!! I did get a 2 weeks orientation and I was VERY grateful for that…”

Her hints to a first timer include reading your contract and when the company that you are being interviewed for interviews you…. Interview them as well!! Keep your eyes and ears open and remember… you are the guest and the home team has the advantage.

 

Joanne from North Carolina

Joanne is an emergency room nurse who classifies benefits and a great recruiter as her top priorities.  She prefers two bedroom housing, and doesn’t mind paying some for that!  She has been traveling for almost five years with Cross Country TravCorps.  Her favorite city has been Chapel Hill, NC.

She feels that she has been very blessed in that her first experience was a plus related to new found friends & a great place to live in Chapel Hill, NC.  She would definitely recommend travel nursing!

Joanne would like to tell first timers, “Life can be a great experience if you let it. I’m now in Rocky Mount, N.C. This is my second assignment & this is in the area I most love. It’s not been easy as I’ve been here 1.5yrs now. In that I mean the ER here is extremely busy, I’ve been here long enough to get my nose in the politics of the place (not always the wisest thing to do) & now I’m struggling with moving on, OH BOY.”

 

Katrina from West Virginia

Katrina is a tele/med/surg nurse who places salary and location number ones on her list.  She takes the one bedroom housing from Nurse Choice.  She has traveled with Supplemental, but was not happy with them.  Her favorite assignments have been in New Orleans, LA, and Prescott Valley, AZ, with her least favorite being in Columbia, SC.

After a ten year lay off, she finally got back on the horse in January and had the best first experience in New Orleans. The hospital was very appreciative of the travelers coming to relieve stressed out staff post-Katrina. The housing left something to be desired, but the wonderful people made up for the lack of luxury housing!  She liked it so much that she stretched out a four week assignment into five months, and she would go back again someday. She will always be grateful to Ochsner Medical Center for making my first experience at traveling a lifetime career memory.  She loves NOLA!

Her hints to a first timer includes:  1) Going the first time with a company that someone you know has recommended to you.  2) You need to read between the lines during the interview for instance if they use the word “challenge” this may be a buzzword for something else such as more critical patients than your used to or high nurse pt ratio etc.  3) The interview is also your chance to find out about them, so don’t forget to ask lots of questions.  4) Read your contract before you sign it. You don’t want to get miles away from home and realize something isn’t in writing that they promised on the phone.

 

Angela from South Carolina

Angela is an operating room nurse who has been traveling for almost five years.  She places importance on a great salary and benefits.  She is currently traveling with Cirrus Medical Staffing and a disaster with First Assist.  Her favorite city has been Washington, DC, with Turlock, CA, being her least favorite.

Her first travel experience was at Duke University in Durham, NC.  She was close to family for her first assignment, which was very nice. She was going through my painful divorce at the time, and travel nursing gave her the perfect excuse to run away form home. She did not bring my emotional breakdowns to work, although she did come to trust a couple of co-workers enough to tell my sad story. She worked with Vascular/Transplant/General/Oncology surgeons and the Transplant docs were great! The rest were typical, arrogant jerks. She wrote her very first complaint about a surgeon, and it turns out that he was the head of the Plastics Dept. Nursing management was incredibly supportive at the time! Overall, the assignment was a great learning experience that was unfortunately overshadowed by her own personal emotional tragedy.  It hasn’t stopped her though! She still gets goosebumps thinking of all the choices she has for the location of her next assignment!  She would like to remind newbies to never lose confident in yourself!

 

Marilyn from South Carolina

Marilyn is an emergency room nurse who places her priority on a great location.  She has been traveling for under a year with Travel Nurse Solutions.  The people at Havasu Regional were very friendly, but staffing was a nightmare.

Havasu is her first and she did renew. The people, in general, are very friendly and receptive. Almost all staffers are travelers. She love the area, it is a little tourist town so the hospital gets the regular party goers and lake accidents. All in all it was a good experience. The staffing could have been much better, but the manager is very amenable.

What would she like to tell first time travelers?  “Go for it. I was leery at first, but it has been a great experience.  I got to met new people, and see new places.  Although, you can’t be afraid to do things on your own.

 

Betty from Arkansas

Better is a med/surg nurse who travels for the excellent pay rate.  She has been traveling for over six years and currently travels with Nationwide Nurse Travel Professionals.  Her favorite place was Lake Havasu City, AZ, with her least favorite city being New Jersey.

Her first experience was not bad, just not what she expected.   She was new at it and sort unsure how it would be as a traveler but she did and she has been traveling ever since.

She would like to remind travelers that it does get easier!  She has traveled with a lot of agencies in her six plus years of traveling but by far the agency the she is with now is the best so far. They have been able to keep her working and pretty much find a position in the area she want to be or close to it.  Betty knows that anytime she has a problem all she has to do is call her recruiter and she will be there to talk and listen or assist her with her problem. They sent her information on the area and maps she was traveling to. She has found them to be honest and upfront about everything and so far no surprises. She feels like she has found my travel nursing home and now she can travel with ease and no worries. Her advice to any new traveler is to be patient and research the area you want to travel and even the facility. Talk to your recruiter and ask for information on the area.

 

Teresa from Illinois

Teresa is a med/surg nurse who is now traveling with Aureus Medical after she was left to find her own housing with Supplemental Healthcare.  She places importance on a honest recruiter and a great salary.  Her favorite assignment was in St. Petersburge, FL.

First assignment was a good experience. She was fortunate to go to a hospital where a friend had just completed an assignment. The friend even met her back at the assignment location and introduced her to some friends from the floor and helped her find her way around some before she went back home. The staff was very friendly and helpful.

She was like to remind travelers to get everything in writing and save all emails. You never know when you will need the information. She found that one out first hand. Don’t back down and be strong. It is a good experience and can teach you not only about nursing but yourself, too.

 

Krista from Kansas

Krista is an operating nurse who travels for the great benefits and locations.  She has been traveling with American Mobile for almost two years, and takes the two bedroom paid for housing.  Her favorite city was San Diego.

She traveled a couple of years ago and loved it! She only did it for 6 months. Now my kids are out of high school and, being divorced now, she is free to travel. She is now on my first assignment, this time. she was welcomed by the staff/mgmt/housekeeping/biomed… everyone here has been so nice! The case load is manageable too. The other travelers here have taught her loads and she hopes to pass on that knowledge when she can.

She would like to remind other travelers to always, always get everything in writing. More important than the company you work for is the recruiter that works for you! A good Recruiter makes or breaks the deal!   She loves her recruiter now!

 

Winnie from South Carolina

Winnie is a telemetry nurse who places the most importance on a great recruiter and excellent salary.  She is currently with MedFirst Staffing, but looking for something better.  After almost five years of traveling, her favorite assignment has been in Anderson, SC, with her least favorite in Chapel Hill, SC.

Her first travel experience was a phychiatric job at the state hospital.  She was treated like family, like part of the team.  It was little difference between contract and “full timers”. There was great people, and backed you up when things could/and would get hairy.

She would tell first timers, “If you don’t have it in your contract, you won’t have it. Think things through, get it in writing, and make SURE you have an out.  Some agencies will stick you will everything, and it may NOT be your fault.

 

Tina from Maine

Tina is a telemetry and PACU nurse who travels for the great salary and location along with a wonderful recruiter.  She has been traveling for over ten years and is currently with Professional Respiratory Care Services after a terrible experience with Cross Country TravCorp.  Her favorite hospital was in Phoenix, AZ, with her least favorite being Los Angles, CA, and Brockton Hospital in Brockton, MA.

Her first travel assignment was with Cross Country and a total nightmare. The job was less than great but the company was the worst. It took more than three weeks to get her pathetic paycheck of less than $350 a week.  Daily attempts to reach a recruiter who answered about every sixth call. Also, being new, they really knew how to intimidate her into feeling that she had no other options. Thank God she spoke with Andy from PPR who made her realize not all companies are heart-less. All subsequent companies have been reasonable and workable.

She would like to tell the newbies that no matter where you are, you can learn. It is OK to bring new ideas but don’t complain about how everything is done. Different is good, that is why you travel. Also, don’t get sucked in to any of the gossip. Work hard first, feel out the staff and situation, and then you can relax a little. As for your company… your nursing recruiter can’t fix your daily assignment so don’t call every day to complain. Cry wolf and the important issues won’t be taken seriously. Most importantly, your license is your career so if it is truly unsafe, you CAN get out don’t be threatened or bullied.  Remember it’s supposed to be Fun.

 

Christine from Nebraska

Christine is an emergency and intensive care nurse who also has experience as a house supervisor.  She travels for the location and salary with Aureus Medical.  She has been traveling for almost two years with her favorite hospital being Grand Island, Nebraska.

She did a total of three contracts in Sidney, Nebraska at a small Critical Access Hospital. She was able to do everything: ER, CICU, Med/Surg, Outpatients, and Swing Bed.  It was a great experience and the staff for the most part was awesome. It was harder to leave there then it was to leave the hospital she left to travel where she had worked for twenty-four years.

Her suggestions to newbies include:  1)  Research companies.  2) Ask more questions and  3) Talk to other Travelers.

 

Tarrah from California

Tarrah is a Med/Surg and Oncology nurse who places her important factors as salary and location.  She takes the standard one bedroom housing paid for by Nurses in Partnership.  Her favorite city has been Los Angeles, CA, with her least favorite assignment at Century City Doctor’s Hospital.

She is still in it and while she love Los Angeles and loves living in Beverly Hills, her company, Nurses in Partnership and the hospital were not honest while recruiting me. All the nurses here are travelers and hate it, counting down the days to leave. There is NO director of nursing or protocols to follow. To make things worse, she feels like her company hasn’t been  paying accurately and can’t account for money that is owed to her.

She would like to remind beginning traveling nurses to do a lot of research! Please talk to other travelers about do’s and don’ts. And get everything in writing in your contract. Be specific about it. Have a good recruiter, if you aren’t comfortable during the recruiting process, look elsewhere 🙂

 

Lacy from Mississippi

Lacy is an ER nurse who places her priorities on a great location with a wonderful recruiter!  She takes the standard one bedroom housing and travels now with Travel Nurse Solutions.  Her favorite assignment was her first assignment in Memphis, TN.

She is currently working at Methodist Hospital in Memphis, TN, and it’s awesome. The computerized charting in the emergency department is something that has taken some getting used to, but everyone is super nice. She would recommend this facility to anyone. They care about their travelers and are always asking her if I’m being treated ok. And she loves her company, TNS. Her recruiter, Chris Woodham, is AWESOME.

She would like to remind all newbies to make sure to do your homework about a facility and town. Make sure to look up information about each hospital that she was told about by her recruiter. And mapquest is a lifesaver.

 

Bonita from Virginia

Bonita is a telemetry nurse who travels for the great benefits and locations.  She has been traveling for over two years and takes the standard one bedroom housing.  She travels now with Clinical One after a problems with Medstaff.  Her favorite assignment was in Las Vegas, NV, with her least favorite being in New Orleans, LA.

Her first travel assignment was with a great little hospital in Inverness, Fla. The staff was a very traveler friendly staff. She floated in turn and went all over the hospital. It was a 165 bed hospital run by the community Drs., so the bottom line was what was good for the patients.

Her advice to a first timer would be to be flexible and remember even the worst assignment is only for thirteen weeks:) and the best assignments can last as long as you want (usually) 🙂

 

Charlotte from Mississippi

Charlotte is a perioperative and critical care nurse who places importance on a great salary and benefits.  She takes the housing stipend and travels in an RV.  She has been traveling for under a year with Travel Nurse Across America.  Her favorite assignment was in Hanford, CA, with her least favorite being Deming, NM.

Her first assignment was wonderful. Very traveler friendly & well organized All personnel that she worked with went out of their way to make her feel welcomed and at home. It was hard to leave after the six month mark.

She would like to remind traveling nurses to be cautious, professional, and take care with your duties. Remember to nurse as any prudent nurse would and give your patients the care that you would desire for yourself and your family members.

 

Abbie from Pennsylvania

Abbie is a med/surg/tele nurse who places her priorities on a great salary and benefits.  She has been traveling for under a year with Nightingale and is happy with them.  She doesn’t have a favorite or disaster city…  yet.

Her first assignment consisted of no rental car reimbursement; the recruiter thought she would take the bus, which would take walking one mile and one and a half hours on the bus.  She rented a car at her expense for $600 a month.  She lived in an apartment complex that wasn’t safe and go to a hospital in unsafe area.  It was a very scary time for her in Phoenix.  On top of that, the company only paid up to 100 for utilities and the electric alone was $180 a month.  She lost quite a bit of money on that assignment.

She would like to remind traveling nurses not to sign anything until you have everything covered such as car rental and utilities.

 

Jade from Florida

Jade is a med/surg/tele and wound care nurse who places priorities on a company with great salary and benefits with  a lot of great locations.  She has been traveling with Nightingale, but is ready for a change.  Although she has a lot of nice places that she has been to, Glendale, AZ, was not one!

On her first assignment, the recruiter told her everything that she wanted to hear, but did not carry through with very many of the promises.  The recruiter got her 2200 miles away from my home, and forgot about her the minute she got her commission. Jade felt so stuck and lonely. She had to fight for every dime that they promised to reimburse her.  The recruiter also was very unavailable on the phone. Jade is grateful to have found another traveler in the apartment complex.  Although she felt as if her apartment complex and hospital were in an unsafe area, she loved the people that she worked with.  It was filled with travelers. It’s kind of hard, though as they are all from different nations. The first assignment is the hardest and the one that you learn the most from. When her first paycheck was over $1,000 short, she started to cry.

Her advice to a first time traveler would be to get everything discussed in writing!!  If you don’t, they will tell you, “That’s not in your contract” even though you know you talked about it and they promised it to you. Do your homework on the hospital and the area. Bring a laptop, cell phone, at least ten uniform sets, items from home, and things to keep you busy on your off time. It gets lonely. Read the newspaper and find out from locals what there is to do in the area. Make sure that you know whether or not you are to bring items from home for your apt. or if it is fully furnished with kitchen items, etc. It gets expensive to buy these things. Locate the nearest Goodwill if you have to, and make sure that you have at least $1000 for extras to make up for what “errors” there may be or for what you need to buy that you forgot.

 

Denise from Ohio

Denise works med/surg/tele through Rn Demand after a disastrous experience from Liquid Agents.  Her favorite city has been Laguna Beach, CA, with her least favorite being Hurricane, WV related to a horrible hospital, but the town wasn’t too bad!  She has been traveling for almost five years and takes the standard one bedroom housing.

Her first travel experience was all about location, location, location!  Roy Lester Schneider Hospital – St Thomas, USVI Loved the island. Snorkeled every day (except when hurricane Jean hit us) swam….Loved her apartment at Sapphire Village Balcony view…nothing but ocean. All of the travel nurses were nice. Everybody helped each other out. We even bought each other food when our ( pay didn’t clear or we lost debit card or hospital didn’t get it faxed on time (You know…Island time not US mainland time…and the hospital faxed/verified…we didn’t) Hospital was grossly understaffed (1:11 Nurse/Pt ratio with NO nursing assistant not uncommon).  Supplies…Forget it honey! Only IV pumps were 20+ years old, only used for heparin or other hi risk drips (if you found a pump at all and… if you could find tubing for the pumps) she once gave her lunch to a diabetic patient / no food.  But – forget the hospital.  She feels like the eight weeks of hardship was worth spending time on the Island.

What would she like to tell a first timer?  “Before you travel with a company always look them up in the travel nurse online forums (Delphi, highwayhypodermics.com, and ultimatenurse.com, etc) If there are a lot of nurses who report satisfaction with them, leave them on your list. If there are a lot of bad experiences with an agency, drop them like a hot potato! A leopard does not change it’s spots. And… list what’s important to you…my list: 1. Housing, private. she doesn’t share housing with strangers. Everything paid for, ALL utilities (including local phone and basic cable). Housing should be completely furnished right on down to pots/pans. I’m not schlepping my household goods all over the country. 2. Day one benefits with dependant coverage available at a reasonable price. 3. Weekly pay, direct deposit Etc (make up your own list) Stick to your list, she always get everything I’ve asked for. Well, she hope that helps. Buena Suerta”

 

Kathryn from Wisconsin

Kathryn is a rehab and medical nurse who prefers to have a great recruiter and salary over benefits and location.  She currently travels with Emerald Healthcare after horrible experience from RTG Medical.  Her favorite city has been San Rafael, CA, with her least favorite being Chico, CA, and Enloe Medical Center.

Her first travel assignment was horrible.  Her company gave her the wrong directions. The staff treated her worse than dirt. My company wouldn’t stand behind her when the hospital tried to discriminate and harass against me. My company stranded her three hours from home when she wouldn’t renew with them. They placed her in an apartment that needed constant maintenance in that the toilet and tub kept on backing up. They charged her for items that they were supposed to pay for – even though it was agreed upon in the written contract that they would pay for these items. They placed her into a contract with another hospital without my authorization and then blamed her when it had to be cancelled because she did not renew with them.  She really felt that RTG was only out to make a buck and did not care about its travelers.

She would like to remind first timers to ask around for references. Ask if there are other travelers that can give a reference for the company. Visit several travel nursing forums and other traveling nursing websites to see what you need to include in the contract and if the hospital has been listed as being a horrible hospital, etc.

 

Jill from Florida

Jill is an ER nurse who places salary and benefits as her top priorities.  She has been traveling under a year with PPR Travel.

Her first travel job was to Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida.  It was a seven teen bed emergency room in which the staff was very friendly.  Nurse patient ratio was hard at times was six to one.  But when you went to the charge nurse and told them you would take no more, they would listen. All in all it was tolerable for thirteen weeks.

She would like to remind first timers to be very flexible. Get some experience before you start. They expect travelers to come in and need very little instruction. Always keep a sense of humor. Also smile a lot. You only have to put up with where you are for thirteen weeks, unlike the full time staff that are there year after year.

 

Joan from North Carolina

Joan is a labor and delivery nurse who places location and benefits as her reasons for traveling.  She has been traveling for under a year with Bridgestaffing.  Her favorite city has been Richmond, VA.

This is my first travel assignment experience, and she feel like she made the right decision to quit her job of 16 years and start traveling.  Chippenham Johnston Willis Hospital L&D department in Richmond, VA, has made my first assignment a very positive experience.  They asked her to take another assignment and she resigned another eight week contract because of the staff and doctors that she works with.  She felt like she have made lasting friendships and will be sad to leave Richmond, VA, but she look forward to expanding my travel career that she have started.

She would like to remind first timers to do your homework and decide what is most important to you as salary, benefits, and etc before signing a contract.

 

Eileen from Washington

Eileen is an OB nurse who places salary and a great recruiter as her top priorities.  She takes the two bedroom housing provided by the Quest Group and has been traveling for almost five years.  Her favorite assignment was in Oak Harbor, WA at the Naval Hospital with her least favorite being Centralia, WA.

Her first traveling experience was awful! There were nurses who were rude and basically mean to her.  The charge nurses dumped her patients on her and she went back and then the charge nurse slept until six in the morning. Then blamed her for not charting on her patients! She told her she’d already assessed and charted on them!  The nurse manager was very rude.  She even had two of the worst deliveries of her career at the hospital…  both on the same night! 

She would like to remind first timers to remember that  you are a guest at the hospital where you are assigned. Act in a professional polite manner. Know your skill level and limitations and be honest and be up front about it. Know that you will learn something new from every hospital you work at. Look at each new assignment in that light, and don’t try to go in and tell the place how it should be run, or find fault continuously. This is one huge mistake she find travelers do too frequently. It makes the staff dislike you. Look to learn from them, but know what the standards of care are and follow them. Also realize that you will be watched closely at first in most places until the staff is sure of you and your skills. Stand up for your patients, and yourself. Don’t let them dump on you but don’t sit on your butt and read a magazine when the rest of the staff is running either. Watch the other staff and see what they do that maybe they haven’t told you about. Buy a clear plastic badge holder to wear with your name badge, and place a card in it that contains all the most frequently needed phone numbers you will likely need on the spur of the moment. For example: she works L&D so she put the docs contact numbers on my badge, the supervisors number, the other areas of the unit’s phone numbers. This allows her to know exactly where the number is when you need it. Saves time when in a hurry. If you don’t have a recruiter who works for you to iron out the problems that are sure to arise during a contract then find one who will. That doesn’t mean you have to leave the company, but you might have to ask for a new recruiter. Get a good tax advisor. Track all your mileage, keep good records. Pack light. Most of all Have FUN!!

 

Kay from Missouri

Kay is an emergency room nurse who travels for the great salary and benefits.  She has been traveling for over a year now with her favorite city being Tucson, AZ.

At her first assignment the hospital staff was mostly nice, except for one vicious physician and tech.  The patients and staff were primarily speaking Spanish.  She was in a dangerous area of town, dangerous staff/patient ratios insecure working environment.  Luckily she had good company, good recruiter, nice apartment and husband to keep her sane. Even with the nice staff would not return to this facility unless safety was addressed.

She would like to remind first timers not to go until you are competent in the area you are presenting yourself for and to have a backup plan if contract or company falls through and backup cash. Don’t take anything personal and expect bumps in plan with pay/housing/hospital etc. Do not expect orientation, they expect you to work without it.

 

Steve from Ohio

Steve is an intensive care nurse who places salary and location has his top priorities. He takes the one bedroom paid for from Professional Respiratory Care Services.  He once traveled with World Health, but never again.  His favorite place was San Francisco with his least favorite assignment being Summerlin Medical and Las Vegas, NV.

He had a great first time Great 1st time experience in Arizona in a MICU. Staff was incredibly friendly and management treated travelers like staff. It gave him a great taste about traveling.

His hints for a first time traveler?  “Before you take your 1st assignment you must evaluate what is important to you ie money, location, housing, benefits and don’t sacrifice the important ones. There are many companies out there. Be sure to interview the hospital management before excepting to get an idea of the unit/hospital and expectations…”

 

W.C. from Ohio

W.C. is a critical care nurse who travel for the great benefits, salary and location.  They have been traveling for almost two years now and finds their own housing.  This traveler is currently with On Assignment, but would change companies if something better came along.  Their favorite city has been Richmond, VA, with Providence, RI, being their least favorite.

Their first time experience was great!  It was a small hospital in Weirton, WV. They had excellent staffing, and WC worked both telemetry and the cardiac care unit for six months.  It was very traveler friendly, and really set her views on traveling as something she will do for a long time!

Her pointers for first timer include:  Not getting involved with all the hospital politics, keep smiling, help the other staff but remember who helps you also! Never compromise your nursing values no matter what. Stand your ground and fight for what you believe in. Always research the company you are considering working for as well as the hospital you are considering traveling to and above all, Always! Always! get everything in writing no matter how nice the recruiter or company sounds. In closing just remember the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!!!!! Good Luck! and Have Fun!!

 

Chris from New York

Chris is a surgical technologist who travels for the love of money, benefits, location, and recruiter.  He takes the two bedroom housing from Preferred Healthcare.  He has been traveling for almost two years.  His favorite assignments have been San Jose, San Francisco, and Palto Alto related to the beautiful weather.  Most of the assignments have been good, with the worst being UCSF-San Francisco. 

He was scared, and paranoid all the time knowing that he didn’t know anyone in California.  I felt home sick for several days; however, it is kind of cool because he learned to be independent and know myself better.  Also, traveling is the wisest decision he has ever made.

What would he like to tell first time travelers?  “You’ll meet very cool travelers and you will always look out for each other.  Referring only to travelers!  You will be able to discover certain cities that you have never been to.  It is pretty exciting!  Although, for first time travelers, please do not let any recruiter fool you.  Please do a lot of research with any travel nursing company.  Hmm, also kind of make your own list of all the things that you want within your company before signing any contracts.  Ask as many questions as you want and if you feel can’t get any answer to your question then drop that company ASAP!”

 

Gloria from Florida

Gloria works in the emergency and has been traveling for over six years.  She places her priorities on a great recruiter and salary.  She takes the one bedroom paid for by Nationwide Nurses.  She loved the Southwest and Arizona, but hated Nebraska.

She had her first travel experience with Nationwide Nurses and they will have her last until she retires. She did try two other travel companies in between assignments not because she was not happy with Nationwide but because she really wanted a state they did not have much in, and oh man, what a mistake. She wont name any names but the travel experience was horrible, both other companies actually! She went back to Nationwide Nurses and it has been smooth sailing. My recruiter is Awesome! They call her back if she ever needs her and most of the time can get right through to her. The housing is the best and she even takes her dogs!

She would like to remind first timers to be honest and open with what you want, ask questions and be sure to tell your agency any worries or concerns you have.

 

Michele from Oklahoma

Michele is an intensive care nurse who places salary and benefits as her top priorities with a great recruiter and excellent location next.  She takes the two bedrooms paid for and has been traveling for almost five years.  She is currently with Medical Express after a disaster experience with Premier Healthcare.  Her least favorite has assignment was in Oakland, CA, and Hopewell, VA, with Tucson, AZ her favorite.

With her first assignment, her recruiter was wonderful! It was a challenge for her to leave my home and live on the road. If asked to do it again, she would in a heartbeat!

She would like to remind first timers to listen to seasoned travelers…they have the experience on how to deal with companies, situations, and a lousy travel job. If you are not flexible and are not able to pick up new things quickly, it’s not time yet for you. Always hook up with other travelers to hang out with when you’re in a new city/town.

 

Gay from Louisiana

Gay is a PACU nurse that has been traveling for almost five years.  She is currently traveling with Cross Country TravCorp, but would consider another company.  Her favorite city has been Albuquerque, NM.

Her first assignment was at Memorial in Modesto, Ca. Everyone was very friendly. They were especially sweet since she had just been through Katrina. The job was easy compared to the work to my pre travel job.

She would like to remind the newbies to go in with a good attitude. Be happy. It makes the staff feel good and they respond in a friendly manner. You also get good evaluations when they like you. Just don’t sweat the small stuff. Although she thinks that this is easier said since she works PACU. You would never have more than two pts at a time in any reputable hospital. She thinks that other units could be much more difficult to travel to.

 

Emily from Michigan

Emily is a labor and delivery nurse who travels for the great salary, but always wants a great recruiter.  She has been traveling for almost two years with Nova Pro.  Her favorite city has been Denver, CO, with Reno, NV, being her least favorite.

Her first travel experience was in Denver at Exempla Lutheran. This was a great hospital and very friendly to travelers. My experience in Reno Nevada…well lets just say she probably would not have chosen this hospital had she interviewed with the actual unit instead of her company and was given the correct information!

She would like to remind new travelers that if you have found a good travel company and have started the interviewing process, please try to interview with the unit itself.  She has found that if the travel company interviews you they may have information about the unit that is either old, wrong, or hasn’t been updated. Sometimes this information can determine whether or not you choose the hospital.

 

Jasmin from Florida

Jasmin is a critical/intensive care and PACU nurse which places money and location has very important to her with benefits and a great recruiter ranking next.  She takes the housing stipend as she travels with HRN Services.  Her favorite city has been San Francisco.

She enjoyed her first travel assignment. If you’re flexible, if you’re outgoing, and you value teamwork, you’re not going to be upset with travelers always floating, having the worst patients, etc. she had a great agency and great recruiter.

Her advice to first timers would include:  Don’t always go with the bigger companies, such as American Mobile, Cross Country, etc. There are some great mid size to smaller companies. As a first time traveler, traveling to San Fran by myself, HRN provided her a great package. If she did ever get bored, she would always be able to pick up extra shift at the hospital she was assigned or they would provide other per diem at a same day surgery, school of dentistry, etc. Higher hourly wages does not always mean you’re going to get the most out of your pay stub. Look at the whole package!

 

Mary from Arizona

Mary is a PICU nurse who travels related to a great location and top salary followed by benefits and a great recruiter.  She takes the one bedroom that is paid for by RN Network.  She had a horrible experience with AMN Healthcare.  Her favorite assignment was in Salt Lake City with Indianapolis being her least favorite.  Her assignment at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, was a disaster!

First assignment was San Diego CA in 1989 – She had a great experience both at work and off work. She stayed 6 months and only experienced one earthquake!

She would like to remind first timers to take one third of what you think you will need! Do remember to take a few things that will help with homesickness… I don’t care how old you are, a little something familiar is comforting on those odd “blue” days. Also, before you go – practice eating at restaurants and going to movies alone. 

 

Margaret from California

Margaret is a NICU nurse who places her priorities on a great salary and terrific recruiter.  She takes the stipend and finds her own housing.  She has been traveling for under a year.  She was with Preferred Healthcare, but have a rough time, switched to Procel.  Her favorite assignment was in Irvine, CA, with her least favorite being in Long Beach, CA.

It has been wonderful! I started at Irvine Regional Hospital, a small, close-knit facility. she was welcomed by management and staff nurses alike. They have patiently answered all of her questions and there has always been someone around to help if needed. The equipment may not be the most up-to-date, but it is well-maintained and suits the purpose. Ancillary staff and volunteers are so nice and helpful as well. There doesn’t seem to be an overwhelming amount of policies and procedures to worry about, but she didn’t  feel as though someone is waiting just around the corner to write her up.

She would like to remind first timers to, “Get everything in writing! Just as the saying “If it isn’t charted then it wasn’t done” applies to a legal case, “If it isn’t in the contract then it isn’t guaranteed” applies to the assignment. Enjoy your assignment! Have fun in whatever city you’re assigned in! You’re only there for up to 13 weeks-go with the flow, don’t try to change anything and for goodness sake, stay out of the politics! Don’t worry if others don’t like you or resent the fact that you make more money-if they wanted to make the same general wages then they can apply to a travel agency just like you did.”

 

Jim from South Carolina

Jim is a med/surg, renal, orthopedics, and oncology nurse who places his priorities on a great recruiter and top salary.  He takes the two bedroom that Trinity Healthcare pays for.  His favorite city has been Greenville, NC, with Fayetteville, NC, being his least favorite.

My first experience at Roper of Charleston, SC was scary. He had to take the PBDS test and was told that if he didn’t make it then the contract will be canceled. His recruiter was very supportive, even had housing ready even before he took the test. The nurse manager was very hard to deal with, asking him what my dream schedule was and then giving him the exact opposite.  He “got” to work every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for two months.  When he talked to the nurse manager, she said “You are a traveler and very expensive.  My core staff is more important so they get their schedule first”. On top of that she cut his contract early which was Godsend and a neurology unit hired him where he had a very nice experience.

His hints to a first timer include:  Be flexible. If bad things happen during your thirteen week contract, suck it in and enjoy going around. Have friends, they make your life less miserable. Research the place and hospital before asking your recruiter to submit you. Also ask your recruiter if they sent anyone to that place before. Good luck and have fun!

 

Deb in Indiana

Deb is a critical care nurse who places location has her top priority followed by salary, benefits, and a great recruiter.  She takes the one bedroom paid housing and has been traveling for almost two years.  She is currently traveling with AMN Healthcare after a horrible experience with Cirrus Medical.  Her favorite city has been San Diego, with Philadelphia being her least favorite.

She had spoken to many travelers prior to entering traveling. Her first assignment was listed as D/N and she had no idea what that meant and my recruiter brushed over it. Once she arrived at the hospital she was informed that it was rotating shifts. Live and learn! The assignment was fine and she especially enjoyed floating as the units she floated to were so much nicer than the one she was assigned. She renewed three times and hated to leave.

She would like to remind first timers not to over pack.  It took her a few assignments to streamline my packing. She had to throw so much away from her first two assignments that she finally got her act together. She has a flatscreen television, Wii, laptop, two pairs of shoes, uniforms, small suitcase and file folders with all her paperwork. If she need things she buy them when she get there. It is so much easier to buy there than it is to pack it.

 

Karen from Idaho

Karen is a med/surg/ortho nurse who places benefits and a great recruiter and her top priorities.  She takes the one bedroom housing that Travel Nurse Solutions provides.  She once traveled with O’Grady Peyton, but never again!  Her favorite town has been Columbia, MO, with Phoenix, AZ, being her least favorite.

Her first time experience was very nice, at her home state in a small town with great people who were glad to have her there.

Her advice to a first timer would include:  If you need good insurance, try to get all the details before you make the decision to go with the particular company. Some have really crappy insurance plans, others have excellent.

 

June from North Carolina

June is a labor and delivery nurse that travels for the salary and great location followed by benefits and a great recruiter.  She has been traveling for under a year and takes the housing stipend.  She has been traveling the Premier Healthcare Professional with her favorite city being Jacksonville, NC.

Her first travel experience was at Onslow memorial in Jacksonville for five months and she loved it.  The nurses worked well as a team and were friendly to travelers. They treated her like family which is why she stayed for three contracts.  Labor and delivery is busy but staffing is pretty good for the most part. Some of the doctors are a pain, but that’s anywhere you go. Although there were a lot of inductions and epidurals, they had an awesome anesthesia staff.  It seemed like they did a lot of c-sections.  Although they still have paper charter, it was a very good place to work.

Her hints to a first timer would include:  Stay out of the hospital politics at all cost!  She kept on having to learn that one!  Maybe extend once but then move on. I’ve stayed so long that it was hard to say goodbye, and that isn’t good when you’re a traveler!

 

Debbie from Virginia

Debbie is a labor and delivery nurse who places her priorities on a great salary and benefits.  She travels in her RV with American Mobile.  At one time she was with Nova Pro, but never again!  Her favorite assignment was in Alexandria, VA with Sentara Norfolk General Hospital being her worst assignment.

She worked in a fairly new hospital with a new staff, so it was difficult coming in as a traveler and the most experienced nurse most nights she worked. However, the nurses were welcoming and so happy to have her there, and worked so well together and with me. The doctors were unhappy and difficult, because they were used to working with an inexperienced staff. She enjoyed my time there but was happy to leave and move on to a place where she felt she could learn something new and not be the one teaching.

She would like to remind newbies not to get involved in the politics, gossip, etc. Keep your mouth shut and your mind open if you hear staff complaining about the facility or each other. SMILE constantly. Insist on respect from the doctors, introduce yourself and tell them your credentials and years of experience. Be ready to hit the floor running, don’t complain, but don’t let anyone complain about you either! You can be a breath of fresh air for a staff that is overworked and stressed, so have fun and enjoy meeting new people and having new experiences.