Members of the Onward Healthcare travel nurse recruitment team offer tips and advice on how to select the travel nursing job that is right for you. They explain the differences between big city and small town assignments, as well as what to questions to ask your recruiter during the job search process.
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Peter: Welcome to our latest edition of Travel Nursing Insider. This is Peter Clayton reporting. Today, we’re going to discuss the process of choosing a travel nursing job. We have a great show lined up with insider tips and advice on how to find where the jobs are, and equally as important, what type of environment will be the very best fit for you. With us today, frequent contributor to Travel Nursing Insider and Director of Travel Nursing, Sera Cullen and Lindsay Francis joins us who’s the Recruitment Manager for Onward Healthcare.
Sera, when you begin to work with a new traveler, do they usually know where they want to go or are they relying on you for advice to find out where the jobs are?
Sera: It’s actually a little bit of both. As a recruiter, one of your primary roles is to really communicate with your nurse and find out what’s motivating them and why they want to travel. Some nurses are very site specific. They’re going to a particular location, they’re relocating there, they’ve got family there. They have an agenda and a reason for going to where they want to go. My job is to then look and try and find them what they’re looking for.
There are other nurses that are completely open for an adventure, a great opportunity. They’re looking either because they’re money-motivated, because they want to go someplace warm, they want to go skiing – everyone has some sort of reason for wanting to get into the travel business and as a recruiter, it’s our responsibility to have those conversations with those nurses so we can help direct them to the best fit possible.
Peter: Lindsay, you’ve been working for Onward Healthcare for over seven years now, what kind of questions do you typically hear from first-time travelers who were trying to decide where they want to go?
Lindsay: Well, I know a lot of first-time travelers we always hear and we joke about it, they want to go to Hawaii and yes of course, I’d like to go to Hawaii too but you know at that point, really what it’s our job to do is kind of hear about what they’ve been doing, where they’ve been working and then figure out there what’s best for them to go to. Like Sera was saying, some of them will have a specific agenda and if that’s certainly the case, then we work to help them get into that certain location. Other times when they’re deciding where to go, you know a lot of them have done their homework, they’ve talked to other travelers so they know the areas of where there’s lots of opportunity, where there may be better pay rates, that sort of a thing, and then it’s really our job to after finding out what their strengths are, what their interests are, helping them pick a location.
Peter: How does this differ from seasoned travelers who you’ve worked with for a while and who have gone out on several assignments?
Lindsay: Well, I think the biggest difference between seasoned travelers is that I already know them so I’ve already talked to them for probably months at a time now. I know who their brothers and sisters are, who their kids are, where their mom lives, so I’ve got a better idea of their agenda, where they’re looking to travel to, who they’re looking to visit, and I also know generally speaking what kind of activities they do outside the job. It’s very important for a travel nurse, they’re going to different locations not just based on the job opportunity but also what’s in the surrounding areas, so that goes a lot with rural versus urban. What are they looking to do, what kind of social aspects are they looking to get into in a particular location. With the seasoned traveler they’ve got all the fears already gone of the first assignment, they know what to expect about housing, pay and benefits, and all the other assets of the job so really what they’re looking at now is kind of figuring out what location and what hospital is going to be the best fit for them.
Peter: Sera let’s talk about urban versus rural, is that a big difference when placing a traveler on an assignment?
Sera: Actually, it’s a huge topic and a great one for us to discuss because it’s pretty complex. Basically, you’ve got your urban locations, which are your large teaching hospitals in big cities. A lot of nurses will want to go to those locations because it’s a resume builder for them, they’re going to have exposure to a lot of units and cases that they may not see in a smaller hospital. They’re going to be teaching so they’re going to have interaction with a lot more stuff. Also, in a bigger hospital there will be less floating, they won’t be shuffled from unit to unit because the units are going to be so full and busy that they’re going to actually be able to stay in one location and really get to know that hospital.
On the flip side, you’ve got a rural location where it maybe a slower pace hospital. You’re going to have people that really need to know their specialty, there’s not going to be a lot of support staff around. Sometimes they may be the only people on the unit so they need to be very experienced in their craft and know exactly what to do in any sort of situation. They also have to be able to do more than just one specialty just because a med/surg nurse maybe pulled into a pediatric unit… they may be pulled into a tele unit, they could be pulled all over the hospital… the census may drop… there may not be as many cases and stuff like that, so they really have to be able to float and know a lot more than just their one specific area.
The big thing about urban versus rural is some people may say I’m only a big city girl, I only want to go to this location, I can only deal with cities, I couldn’t deal with being in the country and this is one of the great things about travel nursing, is the fact that you do get to go on an adventure, you do get to go into a new location and somebody may never have considered Boise, Idaho as ‘oh, my dream job. I’ve always wanted to go there’ but surprisingly enough, a lot of the feedback that we get from nurses is they have these assignments in locations that they may never have considered and then they turn out absolutely loving it and being a huge advocate for those locations.
Again, with travel nursing, the big thing is to have an open mind to really be open to adventure because you’re going to find things that you may never have thought you would have liked but you end up liking.
Peter: Lindsay, any advice that you’d like to share?
Lindsay: I think the most important thing, like Sera was saying, am I big city person, am I a small town person – definitely the more flexible you can be being open to considerations, listening to your recruiter and what the advice that they give you because just like Sera said, you know Boise is a great example, or there’s ton of cities out there that would also be a great example. You may have never thought about a certain location before, you end up taking an assignment there and all of a sudden, you’re relocating there and you want to go perm staff.
The biggest thing I also tell first-time travelers – or even seasoned travelers depending on where they get an assignment – for whatever reason, if it doesn’t work out, it’s 13 weeks, it’s three months, you’re there for three months, you have a great time and then during that time, we’re working on getting you to a different location. That’s definitely an advice, especially for first-time travelers who may just need to get their foot in the door and take the first assignment they’re offered so that they get that travel experience on their resume.
Peter: Sera, back to sort what you were talking about earlier, do you tend to see more openings at large hospitals versus small ones and better opportunities?
Sera: Actually, it’s pretty equal right now. Small hospitals need help just as much as the big hospitals. I think nurses are having more of an open mind right now in taking on new adventures partly because of the economy but partly because they know that this is a resume builder and as Lindsay just mentioned, it is a way to get your foot in the door and this is why the communication with your recruiter is so important because your recruiter is going to help you and guide you to those locations that you’re going to be great at. They’re not going to suggest that you go some place in the middle of nowhere if you don’t drive or are bringing a bunch of dogs or cats with you, stuff like that; the recruiter is actually going to take into consideration all of the factors that come with you so they can place you in a great hospital.
Peter: Lindsay, back to something you were talking about at the very beginning, are there tips you can give travelers about how to successfully achieve that dream location and assignment?
Lindsay: I think the biggest thing for them is to pick a recruiter, get a recruiter that they trust. If they’ve got a recruiter that they trust, that they can build a great relationship with, then the goal will be to always get them that dream job. That dream job may be the third assignment they take, it may be the sixth assignment they take, it may be the first assignment they take but to pick someone, get a good rapport going with someone, have a recruiter that knows you very well and you know obviously be as flexible and as open as you can and the more they learn about you, the more they’re going to be able to find that perfect job for you.
There is also a lot of times when you think you know what the perfect job is, the perfect location for you, but that’s just not realistic. It may be in a state that licensure takes a long period of time. It may be in an area where they want someone with five years experience and you have three. So that’s where you really need to build a relationship, have trust in your recruiter that they’re going to send you on assignments and have assignments for you that are going to lead you to that eventual perfect dream job that you may end up going perm staff.
Peter: Sera, additional advice you’d like to share with our listeners?
Sera: I would just say communication is key. Make sure that you’re talking with your recruiters and being very honest and upfront with your situation. Everyone’s situation changes as well, so making sure that they’re kept in a loop of exactly what’s going on with you, your family, and that way they’ll be able to help you every step of the way.
Peter: Great. Okay, It’s time for the travel nursing hot jobs segment. What great summer locations do you have lined up for our travelers, Sera?
Sera: Two of the locations that we’re really seeing a lot of opportunities come up to right now is Connecticut and New York. Travel nurse jobs in Connecticut are fantastic. Connecticut has a really easy licensure process, we’re on the water, it’s just a beautiful location, it’s not too hot during the summer and the pay is normally very good. And then we’ve also got New York which is a hot spot right now. New York City is a fun place to be in for the summer, lots of activities, lots of concerts. The licensure process there does take a lot longer but if it’s a location that you’ve always wanted to go to, we are seeing opportunities there consistently.
Peter: Alright, well thank you so much for taking time to speak with us again on Travel Nursing Insider.
Sera: Thanks for having us.
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