So you’ve decided to start travel nursing. I was a travel nurse before I went to CRNA School, and I highly recommend travel nursing as it will change your life and give you the opportunity to work in different States. First, you have your resume in order and you’re researching travel agencies. By now, your head should be spinning from all the information you’re being bombarded with and your phone should be constantly ringing with agencies demanding that you fill out lengthy applications and skills checklists. The process is tedious and time-consuming. I hope after reading this I can clear some of this up, make your transition into travel nursing as painless as possible and give my feedback / recommendation on TNAA – Travel Nurse Across America.
If you’re new into travel nursing, give yourself a 3-month cushion before leaving your job and don’t sign anything. During these 3 months: update your resume, create a list of your wants and needs, figure out your top destinations and set up your tax home (if you want tax free stipends).
Where do you want to go?
List the top 5 places you want to take an assignment in. This may sound like an easy question, but it’s not. There are many factors involved: weather, cost of living, accessibility, nightlife, mode of transportation, outside activities, salary, etc. Check out the CRNA Salary by State for a comparison on how different states pay as well as state taxes for nurses.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Attributed to Mark Twain
TNAA Travel Nursing
Now that you have the top 5 locations, it’s time to find the right agency and right agent to get you there.
In all honesty, agencies are very similar. They may differ slightly in benefits, but the most important factor is that you get the best paying package that meets your needs.
While agencies can be similar, agents themselves can be very different. I found TNAA Travel Nursing as the best nursing agency with the best agents. They had the highest quality travel nurse jobs, full service packages with housing and also offered assistance with tax compliance. The TNAA agent will listen to your wants and needs and actively search for the best hospitals and pay rates. Word of mouth has been the best source for me for finding good agents. Get the numbers of travel nurse agents from your travel nurse friends. Use social media and post about yourself and what you are looking for. When you get in touch with the TNAA recruiter, get a feel for what his or her priorities are. Don’t feel obligated to maintain contact with an agent if you feel you are not his or her priority.
A travel nurse agent is there to find you the best hospitals with the best pay. Don’t fall into a guilt trap and stick around because you think you may hurt his or her feelings.
You should have a small list of agents from various agencies now with multiple pay packages for your wanted locations. It is good to keep daily contact with them and share updates. When you see a great fit, don’t hesitate to contact your agent and let them know. It is then their responsibility to get your paperwork in order and submit your profile to the hospital. At this point, it is OK to start filling out those skills checklists and taking those online exams. Some of the TNAA jobs that I was offered required taking many of these online exams to verify that I was the right fit for the job.
Travel Nurse Interview Questions
Depending on need and number of openings, you can expect a call from the hospital within a day to a week. Warning: it will most likely catch you by surprise. If you’re half asleep from a long night shift don’t hesitate to let them know that and ask for a name and good time to call them back to reschedule.
I’ve had a lot of different interviews so it’s hard to give concrete advice on how to ace the travel nurse interview. My best advice: be confident! You have the skills and knowledge and the hospital is clearly interested in you. Know the patient population you currently work with and be able to talk about your career, strengths, and weaknesses.
The second part of the travel nurse interview is the most important. This is the time you get to ask questions to your interviewer. I repeat, this is the most crucial time in your interview! You should have a small list of travel nurse interview questions that are imperative to your success as a travel nurse.
- Nurse to patient ratio
- Floating to other floors
- Best way to reach the doctor when things go bad
- Possibility of block scheduling
- Requested time off
- Access to ancillary staff
The waiting game
You’ve been submitted and you’re waiting for a phone call back. This can take anywhere from an hour to several days to a week. It can be a stressful time, but hang on because that dream job offer from your agent is coming. If you don’t hear back in a reasonable time, get in touch with your agent and let them know.
Signing the Travel Nurse contract
At this point, you should have multiple calls from the locations you wanted. Now it’s time to decide the best fit. Does the amount of pay equate to the cost of living? Is the location of the facility close enough that you get to experience city life? Which hospital seems to be the best fit? After you have made a decision, your TNAA agent will send you a contract to sign. Read every line because once you sign it, you are bound to it. And finally, when you do sign I hope you get the same feeling of satisfaction that I do knowing your hard work and effort has paid off.
Congratulations! Time to start packing! You are officially a travel nurse!