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Keeping a Finger on the Pulse of Travel Nursing – Tips for the Aspiring Travel Nurse

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Jobs in today’s economy leave little room for growth, flexibility and freedom to decide when and where you work.  That is, unless you are a professional travel nurse who’s certified in a particular specialty.   If you are a registered nurse with the freedom to travel often and your hospital or clinic is in the process of laying-off health care professionals, now may be a good time to try travel nursing

To get started, your best bet is to team up with a travel nurse agency that can match you up with jobs that are best suited to your expertise, skill level, and desired location and duration of work, be it 13 weeks up to a year.   Be sure to select one that offers the best benefits to suit your needs as far as compensation, medical benefits, travel reimbursement, and paid training, etc.   The added benefit of using an agency means that there’s no need to search for and apply to jobs on your own, they’ll do all the legwork for you.  

If you are certified or experienced in more than one specialty, you will be more marketable with your agency.   Not only will you have more jobs available to you, you will be valued more as an interchangeable part that can really go wherever the hospital needs you within one assignment. 

Once you’re on board with a good agency, you will want to make every effort to prepare ahead of time for life on the road.   If you have a house, ask a friend, relative or neighbor you trust to check in daily or every so often to be sure the house is secure, the mail is collected, the fish are fed, the plants are watered, and anything else to maintain your home is taken care of while you’re gone.   Also, if you have a car, have them start the car and run it for about ten minutes every week to keep your car battery from losing juice.  

Sign up for direct deposit so that your paychecks go straight to your bank account each payday, especially if your bank doesn’t have a branch in the city you’re traveling to.   If you have electronic banking set up with your personal checking account, you can pay your bills online and manage your account from anywhere.   And to make sure you don’t fall behind on any bills at home and to cut down on the risk of identity theft from stolen mail, sign up for electronic bills instead of paper bills.  

Spend money wisely while you’re traveling and keep envelopes full of receipts for all of your reimbursable expenses.  Perhaps you’d like to organize receipts by month or by assignment, whichever keeps your purchases itemized and organized.   Another good idea for a long assignment would be to leave travel-size toiletries at home and just purchase what you’ll need once you relocate.   Local dollar stores sell many kitchen gadgets, and even name-brand cleaning supplies and grooming products.  

Depending on how long your assignment is, you can pack smart by bringing clothing that correlates to the climate of your destination.   If you’re staying in places like Florida, pack light on sweaters/jackets.   Some areas of the country have more precipitation than others, even during fall and spring so be sure to do your research ahead of time and bring galoshes, umbrellas, hats, etc as needed.   Another crucial tip; be sure to leave a bit of extra room in your suitcase.   It is likely that you’ll return with more (souvenirs, extra clothes from shopping, etc) than when you arrived.

You may want to invest in a laptop, ideally one that’s small and easy to travel with.  Be sure you have an email provider that keeps track of your received and sent messages so that you can refer back to them at anytime.   If you rely on more than one email account, it may be a better idea to consolidate all of your email accounts into one master account, like Google’s Gmail, where you simply login to one place to access each one.  

Having a profile on one or more social networks is essential to staying in touch with family & friends back at home.   Keep in touch with colleagues from each of your assignments, even after you leave and move on to another.  Being a travel nurse is an amazing way to network with countless other professionals in your field, giving you the opportunity to sharpen your skills and acquire job recommendations.

Gather the experience of working alongside many different health care professionals, diversify your practical experience, build your resume, explore the country, and even find the permanent hometown of your dreams!  Search for travel nursing jobs and travel nurse agencies at http://www.healthcareerweb.com/.

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