In our 7th episode, the team explains how the travel nursing renewal process works, what happens to your benefits in between assignments, and how to schedule vacation time.
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Peter: Welcome to a new episode of Travel Nursing Insider. Joining us today is Sera Cullen, Travel Nurse Director with Onward Healthcare.
Sera, it’s great to have you back on the program.
Sera: Thank you.
Peter: In our last show, you discussed the travel nursing orientation process and explained to our listeners what to expect from their first couple of weeks on a travel nursing assignment. Today, we’re going to pick up where we left off and discuss in depth how the renewal process works on a travel nursing assignment.
Sera, I know this is one your favorite topics and it’s a frequently asked question; so when should a nurse start thinking about renewing their assignment?
Sera: A nurse should start thinking about renewing an assignment as soon as they decide that this is a place they want to be. With renewals, nurses can go two avenues. The first avenue is if they have found a hospital that they’ve really enjoyed being at, then they can actually ask for an extension which means that they’re going to talk with their nurse manager, let the hospital know that they are interested in staying on and extending for another 13 weeks, 26 weeks depending on what the hospital’s need and budget is and then they’re also going to let their recruiter know who is then going to also approach the hospital from the other angle and find out if the hospital is interested in extending the nurse as well.
I have nurses that have been at the same hospital for over two years. If hospitals have a need, the nurses can definitely stay.
The other avenue is if a nurse decides that they’re on this assignment and it’s great for right now but it’s not some place they can see themselves staying long term, then they just want to let their recruiter know as soon as possible; that recruiter is going to start looking every day for something new. It many not happen right away. It may not be today or tomorrow, but if the recruiter knows what the nurse is looking for, she’ll be able to keep her eyes open so when that perfect dream job does come along, the recruiter will be able to submit the nurse and go through those processes that we’ve discussed earlier to make sure that that nurse gets her foot in the door first.
Peter: And I assume that the travel nursing interview process works the same way as we discussed in our earlier episodes, is that right?
Sera: It does, except if that nurse is actually staying on assignment at that original hospital where she currently is, she doesn’t have to go through the interview process again. It will just be a simple as the nurse manager saying yes, I’d love to keep you, you’re a great fit and the nurse saying I want to be here, then they don’t have to do an interview again. The interview process applies when we send the nurse’s paperwork out to various hospitals where they’re going to start that phone interview process again to make sure that they’re a good fit and to get all the details about the hospitals so they can make sure that everything works for each party.
Peter: That brings up another question. Let’s say a nurse is going on to a new assignment in a new hospital, do they have to submit all of the paperwork and compliance documents or does what they have on file with Onward Healthcare roll over?
Sera: That is the amazing thing about being with Onward Healthcare is the fact that once you do that paperwork, that initial paperwork for us, it’s good for a full year. It follows you around so you don’t have to do that paperwork. Occasionally, there may be one or two items that will be unique to the new hospital that a nurse will have to fill out or get to us but in general, all that paperwork that they did originally will follow them around. So no, no paperwork or minimal paperwork going forward which is just fantastic for everyone.
Peter: Typically, how soon does the new assignment start once the nurse’s current assignment is completed?
Sera: Great question. One of the big things about being a travel nurse is the flexibility and that’s something that we’ve discussed so if a nurse just wants the assignment to run back to back and they want to keep it going, we can organize that. If they want to take two weeks off to go to a vacation, go home, make sure their house is fine, get it winterized, summerized, whatever you want to do, they can do that as well. It really depends on the nurse’s schedule which leads us back to one of the great things about being a traveler is you can take the time off. I have a couple of nurses that have taken the summer off before. I’ve got other nurses that want to run back to back and make sure they’ve got a steady paycheck coming in. It’s really what the nurse prefers to do.
Peter: Does the nurse have to pay any kind of administrative or finder’s fee to get their new assignment through Onward Healthcare?
Sera: Absolutely not. It is all taken care of on our side, on the hospital’s side. The service that Onward offers to nurses is absolutely free to them and there’s just so much opportunity that’s there for them.
Peter: That brings up something else that I’m sure you get asked about a lot. We’ve discussed the many benefits available to travel nurses through Onward Healthcare. If a nurse is receiving benefits, will they lapse during the time off or a time in transition? Say, someone wants to take a couple of weeks off or like you mentioned, someone wants to take the summer off before starting a new assignment, do those benefits lapse?
Sera: What’s going to happen with their benefits is if someone was going to take an extended period of time, say the summer off, then yes, they would have to COBRA their insurance and stuff like that and then when they came back to us, their insurance would start up again. If someone is just going to take a couple of weeks off and they’ve already booked their assignment and got everything organized for us, then that insurance will carry over for them and Onward is generous enough to make sure that everything stays smooth for them and they never have to do that waiting period that they did initially.
Peter: Okay, so once they’re on the next assignment, then this pretty much becomes a continuous cycle with their benefits and everything just kind of rolling over.
Sera: Absolutely. The great thing about our benefits is they’re through United Healthcare, a great company that covers all of the US. So you don’t change carriers, nothing changes no matter what part of the country that you’re in, and so the benefits follow them around and that’s one of the other benefits of being a travel nurse is with a staff employee, their benefits are constant and everything else.
One of the hesitations for becoming a travel nurse is “am I going to give up my benefits…,” “what’s going to happen here…,” the unknown and really, no one should be afraid of this because their benefits can be continuous the whole time because they will be working through us.
Peter: Is there anything I haven’t asked you that nurses oftentimes request or have a question about?
Sera: You know what; I think we covered a lot of it. The big thing that I want to bring up is as a travel nurse, you can change your mind at any stage. If the assignment is going really well, there’s no time limit to when you say, yes I want to stay, no, I don’t want to stay. So I don’t want people to feel obligated that you’re there on assignment and within two weeks, you have to decide whether this is a place for you or if you’re moving on. We can work with every nurse, so if she doesn’t know until the 12th week of her 13-week assignment, if she wants to stay or if she wants to start looking for something new, we can work around that. The recruiter is there to support the nurse and help her and we can work with her and whenever she’s ready to go on a new assignment, we’ll be able to help her.
Peter: That’s fantastic. As we close out the show, why don’t you tell me about some hot locations you have for nurses as the spring weather sweeps across the country?
Sera: One of the big locations that I want to highlight right now are the Carolinas. – North Carolina, South Carolina, beautiful location especially during the spring. The weather is great. The beaches are fantastic. There are tons of outdoor activities, great golfing, tennis, boating, fishing, all that great stuff. There are also really beautiful cities around. This is a great time to take advantage of a South Carolina or North Carolina travel nurse job and they’re very accessible to lots and lots of big cities and locations throughout the US, so definitely a hotspot for nurses right now.
Peter: Sera thanks so much for taking time to speak with us again today on Travel Nursing Insider.
Sera: My pleasure.
Thank you for tuning in to Travel Nursing Insider. For more information on the exciting world of travel nursing, you should visit Onward Healthcare on the web at onwardhealthcare.com or call 1-800-278-0332 to speak to a travel nursing recruiter.
You should also follow Onward Healthcare on Twitter at Twitter.com/onwardhealth, fan them on Facebook at Facebook.com/travelnursing, and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes. Just do a keyword search for Travel Nursing Insider.
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