Although an average travel nursing assignment generally lasts anywhere from eight to 13 weeks, contracts may vary depending on the needs of the hiring facility. For nurses preparing to embark on a new assignment, the length of the job often determines the amount and type of preparation you'll need to do before leaving home. Read on for four ways preparing for travel nursing assignments can differ between short-term and long-term assignments.
Shorter travel nursing assignments generally last for fewer than two months, making seasonal concerns irrelevant, but longer-term jobs can mean experiencing a change of seasons in your new destination. As you prepare to travel, that can mean factoring in changing weather conditions, holidays and even seasonal hobbies.
If you've accepted a long-term assignment in a region that experiences seasonal changes, you'll want to plan for that when you pack. Depending on when you'll be on assignment, that can mean including items such as bathing suits, shorts, sandals, cardigans, jackets, boots and warm woolen socks.
In addition to clothing, seasonal considerations can include holiday-related items. When packing for longer-term assignments, you may want to pack your favorite holiday attire or jewelry and festive decorations to make your temporary housing feel more like home.
You may also want to consider packing seasonally appropriate hobby items so you don't miss out on great time-off opportunities. Items such as skis, snowshoes and snorkels can help you fully enjoy the changing seasons in your home away from home.
Heading off on a short-term assignment may require little more preparation than leaving house keys with a neighbor, asking someone to pick up your mail and dropping off your beloved pooch or kitty with your most trustworthy friend for a few weeks. If you're accepting a long-term assignment, however, you'll want to take several steps to ensure the safety of your home and pets. This includes:
- Having the post office forward mail to a new address or asking a trusted friend or relative to forward important items to you
- Finding a caretaker or house-sitter so your home doesn't stay empty or subletting your apartment
- Planning for the execution of household maintenance chores, including lawn mowing and snow removal to comply with relevant local codes
- Making plans for a relative to watch your pet long term or, better yet, planning to take your best friend with you since many temporary housing options let nurses keep pets
If you're heading off on a short-term assignment, it's important to make sure you've refilled any essential prescription medications and have enough refills to cover you for the duration of your trip. Longer-term assignments may require a visit to your family doctor to make sure you won't have problems refilling your medication while you're away.
Nurses who are preparing to embark on a long-term assignment may also want to talk to a customer service representative at their health insurance provider to make sure their policy will follow them to their new location. It's also a good idea to find out if you'll need to update your primary care physician to someone local to the assignment area while you're away.
If you discover potential gaps in your health insurance coverage, you may want to look into policies offered by your travel nursing agency, according to Wanderly. These policies may ultimately be a better coverage option when you're traveling away from home for an extended period of time.
4. Plan ahead to maximize your sightseeing time
Long-term assignments can offer you the opportunity to leisurely explore an unfamiliar area, letting you discover sights and attractions organically. A short-term assignment, on the other hand, may require more preparation to maximize your sightseeing time.
If your time away is limited and you don't want to miss out on area attractions, it's a good idea to plan ahead. Buy a travel guide or visit the area's online tourism site and make a list of must-see attractions to ensure you hit the region's high points.
Whether you're embarking on a short-or long-term position, preparing for travel nursing assignments is vital to ensuring a successful stay in your chosen destination. To begin your search for an exciting position as a traveling nurse, visit Onward Healthcare's extensive job bank.