Ways to Kick Loneliness as a Travel Nurse

As a travel nurse, you are packing up your belongings after every assignment ends.  Many times, these assignments are thousands of miles away from your family and friends.  So, how do you handle being that far away from those you love, in a town you aren’t familiar with?  Loneliness can be a real fear for travel nurses, but it doesn’t have to be.

There are many options to keep your time occupied while on assignment, aside from working.  We have put together a list of things you can do to handle the loneliness you may feel while away from your family and friends.

Work as a volunteer at a local animal shelter:

Giving of your time is also a great way to curb your loneliness.   What better way to give of your time than spending it with adorable animals at an animal shelter?  Animal shelters are always looking for volunteers.  Volunteering will get you out of the house, while you spend time with other people and animals that are so appreciative of any and all attention you can give them.   While it may not be in the books for you to adopt a pet while on the road you can give love to those in the animal shelters while you are on assignment.

Get a travel companion aka a pet:

Pets can provide you companionship no matter where you go.  You won’t feel quite so alone having them with you in your new “home.”    Coming back to an empty home can make the loneliness worse, but having a pet there waiting can make a huge difference.   Having a pet on an assignment can change the way you have to travel and look for housing.

Join a gym:  

Find a gym in your new area that offers classes!  You have a better chance of meeting people by joining a class at the gym than just by going to the gym.  Yelp is a great place to search for gyms in your area because they also give reviews just like they do for restaurants.  Many gyms offer classes more than once a week so you can work around your work schedule!

 

Utilize video chatting:

With today’s technology, staying in touch with loved ones while on assignment is much easier than ever!  Our cell phones now allow us to make video calls.  If that won’t work for you there are numerous ways using different apps or programs like Skype.  While it may not be the same as seeing them in person it will definitely help you feel closer to them while being so far away.

Meetup App:

Many travel nurses use the Meetup app. People use Meetup to meet new people, learn new things, find support, get out of their comfort zones, and pursue their passions, together.  The app has groups you can join that you are interested in, such as; Health and Wellness, Outdoors, Family, Sports and Fitness and many more.  When you join a group, you will see who is hosting local events for that group.  If there isn’t a group for a topic you enjoy you can always create one yourself.  It is a great way to find others in the area that enjoy the same things you do.

Meet other Travel Nurses in the area:

This is a great way to curb your loneliness while making friends!  We see posts on The Gypsy Nurse Facebook network group all the time looking for other travel nurses in the area.  What better people to connect with than those who know exactly what you are going through?   There are many groups on Facebook dedicated to certain cities for travel nurses.

Get out and explore:

Explore your new temporary city.  Getting out and exploring your new area is a great way to get out and you may meet some friends along the way as well.  A lot of cities and businesses offer events to bring people together.  Facebook is a great place to look for events happening around you.  You can also ask your co-workers for ideas on what to do.

Take up a new hobby:

You are on assignment usually for 13 weeks at a time, which gives you plenty of time to pick up and learn a new hobby.  Learning a new hobby will help with loneliness because it keeps you busy and your mind off being away from family and friends.  There are so many options to choose.  Knitting, crocheting, hiking, writing, yoga, and the list goes on and on.  Hiking is a great option if you can find a place in your new city.  It gets you out and about and away from your home away from home.  Knitting and crocheting are great because they can be done from your home and there are many tutorials on YouTube that make it easy to teach yourself.  The list of new hobbies to learn are really endless, it just depends on what interests you and what you think you will enjoy.

Work as a volunteer at a local animal shelter:

Giving of your time is also a great way to curb your loneliness.   What better way to give of your time than spending it with adorable animals at an animal shelter?  Animal shelters are always looking for volunteers.  Volunteering will get you out of the house, while you spend time with other people and animals that are so appreciative of any and all attention you can give them.   While it may not be in the books for you to adopt a pet while on the road you can give love to those in the animal shelters while you are on assignment.

Loneliness is inevitable while being away from your family and friends, but it doesn’t have to be.  These are just a few ways that you can handle your loneliness while traveling for an assignment.  There are many more ways.  Reaching out in the Gypsy Nurse network group about certain cities is also a great way to find out things to do while you are in your new city.

Our hope is that by providing these examples it will at least get you started on finding ways to handle the loneliness and enjoy your assignments that much more!

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Top Benefits of Compression Socks

Nurses and healthcare workers are on their feet for sometimes 12 hours at a time.  Sometimes even more. And for numerous days at a time.  Finding ways to keep your feet comfortable is imperative.  Great shoes play a huge part in this, however many nurses swear by compression socks.

What are compression socks and what are the true benefits of them?

According to Wikipedia “Compression stockings are elastic compression garments worn around the leg, compressing the limb. This reduces the diameter of distended veins and increases venous blood flow velocity and valve effectiveness. Compression therapy helps decrease venous pressure, prevents venous stasis and impairments of venous walls, and relieves heavy and aching legs.”

Healthline says that some benefits of compression socks are:

1. Boost circulation in your legs

Boosting the circulation in your legs helps to get the necessary nutrients and blood flow to the tissue in your legs, keeping them healthy.

2. Support veins

Compression socks help to support your veins and can help prevent varicose veins.

3. Prevent blood from pooling in your leg veins

Pooling in the leg veins can be very painful and if not treated can the swelling and pressure will increase.

4. Diminish leg swelling

Leg swelling can lead to other issues and can also be very painful.

5. Prevent the development of deep vein thrombosis in your legs

This is a huge plus for compression socks as deep vein thrombosis is very serious and can lead to more serious issues and sometimes death.

6. Help lessen the pain caused by varicose veins

Being on your feet for as many hours at a time that nurses are, already causes tired and painful legs.  Add varicose veins to it and it can be unbearable.

Other benefits can include:

  • Fewer leg pains
  • Better circulation
  • Less swelling in the legs and feet
  • They can help with joint pain

There are many benefits to wearing compression socks, we hope that you have found this article helpful.  Not all compression socks are the same, so you need to do your research.

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4 Relaxation Tips for Travel Nurses This Fall

Being a travel nurse can be stressful. Moving every 13 weeks and starting new jobs at the same time can be stressful. Leaving people, you have come to know and love at this pace as well.  Add in being away from family and friends and it can be hard to find ways to relax or de-stress. We have put together some relaxation tips for travel nurses to help you on your journey.

 

Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR)

According to Oxford ASMR “is a feeling of well-being combined with a tingling sensation in the scalp and down the back of the neck, as experienced by some people in response to a specific gentle stimulus, often a particular sound.”  ASMR can be triggered by things like paper tearing, scalp massages, or whispering voices. These are not the only things that can trigger ASMR, however, these are common ones. If you would like to find an ASMR for yourself YouTube is a great place to search.

 

Breathing exercises are great ways to help you relax.

In order to really relax you need to activate your body’s natural relaxation response, a state of deep rest that:

  • Puts the brakes on stress
  • Slows your breathing and heart rate
  • Lowers your blood pressure
  • Brings your body and mind back into balance

Breathing techniques can be done in many forms such as breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, and tai chi just to name a few.

 

Hot Baths

Taking a hot bath may not be everyone’s “cup of tea”, however, it is a great way to relax and reduce stress. Bathing stimulates blood circulation and helps calm the nervous system. Another perk is it can relieve common aches and pains. Which can be common working such a strenuous job like nursing. Also, if you have trouble sleeping at night try taking a bath right before bed. You may find that washing in the shower first and then taking a bath after is more relaxing. As many do not feel as clean after a bath than with a shower.

 

Laugh

This may seem a little strange, however, laughter really does help to relieve stress, which in turn relaxes us. Laughter has many benefits.

Short-term benefits

A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it does not just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:

  • Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

Long-term effects

Laughter is not just a quick pick-me-up, though. It is also good for you over the long term. Laughter may:

  • Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
  • Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
  • Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
  • Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.

The way you choose to laugh is totally up to you and what you find funny. You can search for funny videos on YouTube, Facebook, or even Instagram, watch your favorite comedic movie or show. There are so many ways to find laughter.

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Places to Consider for Your Fall Travel Nursing Assignment

Fall.The time of year that reminds us how beautiful change is as winter draws near. From colorful trees to slow freezing streams, here are some locations you should consider when planning your next travel assignment.

Places to visit while traveling this fall

Minnesota

Minnesota– A family-friendly state known for its outdoor activities makes Minnesota a top spot to take in fall-time views. The are many opportunities for you to go camping, kayaking, and fishing to immerse yourself in the season and state.

 

Tennessee

Tennessee– The Great Smoky Mountains and nearby farms will make for a memorable stay in Tennessee. You can take in the views by horse-back and hiking the many trails in the surrounding area. Already rich in history, visiting Tennessee in fall will only add to the experience.

 

Washington

Washington– Rolling hills, waterfalls, and national forests will keep you busy as you venture throughout Washington. You’ll want to be sure to carve out time so you can stop by vineyards to indulge in not only the scenery but the flavors of fall as well.

 

New Jersey

New Jersey– Known for the monarch butterfly migration in the fall, you can also stop to see stunning sunsets on beaches across the state. Catching rays of sunlight between clouds, you’ll see the colors of fall casting their hues across New Jersey’s bodies of water.

 

Vermont

Vermont– Foliage, as you drive Route 9, will leave you breathless; trees with shades of red, yellow, orange, and green fill vast areas of land across the state. In addition to the dramatic drive, there is a good chance you could see various types of wildlife, bears, deer, and moose to name a few.

 

We hope this list of great places to visit while traveling this fall helps you along your travel nurse adventure!

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Travel Nurse Housing: Housing in RV

There are 3 travel nurse housing options to consider.

Travel Nurse Housing in RV

We’ve discussed the company provided travel nurse housing. If you haven’t read this, I suggest that you take a look at it and read over the tax implications. In addition, we’ve also discussed Securing your own travel nurse housing with a ‘stipend’. In this article, we are going to touch on Travel nurse housing in an RV.

The third option that many travel nurses choose, is to carry their home with them in the form of an RV. Using an RV Travel Nurse housing as an alternative has many advantages.

I’ll be brief on this because I’m not as well educated on RV living as I am with the previous two options. There are a lot of travel nurses that choose to take their homes with them and there are some distinct advantages to doing so.

Advantages

  • If you have a tax-home and are eligible for the tax-free perks, your travel nurse housing stipend can actually make both your lot rent payments as well as your RV payments. I have spoken to several travel nurses that have done that very thing.
  • You only have to go through the riggers of packing once. To many, this in itself is reason enough to go through the trials of RV ownership.
  • When you choose RV travel nurse housing and living in an RV park there are no outside chores to do. No lawn to cut. If the wind should blow down a tree or tree limb the park cleans up the mess. Oops, a dog got into the trash…park manager’s job. Essentially the only upkeep you must maintain is the home itself.
  • If you get tired of living in one spot or you just don’t like the neighbors you just crank up and move on.
  • Many of your RV expenses can be deducted on taxes.

Resources for RV living

If your planning to explore this option, I would advise you to reach out to the RV communities both in your local area as well as online and do as much research as possible beforehand. There is a multitude of resources for RV living.

  • Forums and Groups via Facebook, Yahoo, etc.
  • Campground Directories with Reviews
  • Personal Experience Blogs and Websites
  • RV specific Auto Clubs
  • A Travel Nurse on Assignment In An RV
  • Travel Nurse Housing in RV: Choosing the Right RV
  • Travel Nurse in an RV: Amenitiesimage 6180620 2948070 - Travel Nurse Housing: Housing in RV
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Travel Nurse Housing: Housing Stipend

There are 3 travel nurse housing options for travel nurses to consider:

Housing Stipend

Last week we discussed the company provided travel nurse housing. If you haven’t read this, I suggest that you take a look at it and read over the tax implications.

Today we are going to touch on obtaining your own travel nurse housing. There are multiple considerations when opting for a travel nurse housing stipend. If you have a valid tax-home, you can sometimes pocket a little extra cash by obtaining your own housing.

Many travel nurses choose to find their own housing simply because of the additional financial benefit. If the travel nurse housing stipend is more than the rent, the traveler can pocket the remainder! This is a huge benefit for finding your own travel nurse housing.

It’s important that you treat each assignment individually and assess housing availability and cost prior to determining if you are going to accept a travel nurse housing stipend instead of company-provided housing. There are some areas that finding housing that is furnished is difficult. In these situations, it’s likely better to take company housing. Make sure that you have options.

Online Resources for finding Travel Nurse Housing

  • The Gypsy Nurse Facebook Housing Group
  • The Gypsy Nurse Housing via Furnished Finder
  • Furnished Finder which has over 40,000 properties listed on their site
  • Online classifieds
  • Aggregate apartment rental sites
  • Individual apartment rental sites
  • Home rental sites like VRBO and Airbnb
  • Bed & Breakfasts
  • Roommate or house-sharing sites
  • Hotels (you can sometimes negotiate an acceptable rate with some good negotiation skills)

Things to consider when choosing the Travel Nurse housing stipend.

  • Does availability and price match what the stipend would be?
  • What is the minimum length of the lease? I recommend obtaining a month to month lease in case your contract is terminated early. However, these can be very difficult to find.
  • Do you want a private space or shared?
  • Do you need cable, internet, etc?
  • Will there be any deposits?
  • Is parking included?
  • What utilities are included? Furniture?
  • Calculate your anticipated cost with everything and make sure that your stipend will cover the costs.
  • Consider an unfurnished rental and furnish it yourself.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Obtaining your own Travel Nurse Housing

Advantages

  • You have full control over the location and type of travel nurse housing provided.
  • You may be able to find travel nurse housing that doesn’t cost the full ‘stipend’ and therefore, put a little additional money in your pocket.

Disadvantages

  • Travel Nurse Housing research can be very time-consuming.
  • The lease is in your name so there may be credit checks required from the accommodation.
  • If housing is limited in the area, you might actually get better housing by using the agency’s resources.
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Travel Nurse Housing: Agency Provided Housing

There are 3 travel nurse housing options to consider.
  • Agency Provided Travel Nurse Housing – Discussed Below
  • Securing your own travel nurse housing with a ‘stipend’
  • Travel in an RV

Travel Nurse Housing Tax Implications

It’s important to understand that no matter which housing option you opt for, you must have a valid tax-home in order to be able to obtain ‘free’ housing. If you do not have a tax-home, your housing costs should be taxed as income. Many agencies will not tell you this.

Agency Provided Travel Nurse Housing

With agency provided housing, the agency takes care of everything for you.  From deposits (excluding any pet deposits), utilities, and furnishing.  All you should have to do is show up. Your travel nurse housing should be ‘move-in ready’.  Sometimes the internet or cable TV is not included. You may have to arrange this on your own if you need/want it.  Ask the agency if this is included. Many Agencies provide housing in hotels, motels, and extended stay type properties. These can vary greatly.  It’s important to ask what type of housing, and where and do your research.

Additionally,  if you are taking company provided housing, it’s important to know what is actually included in the companies description of ‘furnished’. ‘Furnished’ can mean a wide variety of different things to different people. I discussed the importance of clarifying what is ‘furnished’ in a previous post so I won’t rehash it here.

Questions to Ask about your Travel Nurse Housing

In addition to knowing what is furnished in your company provided housing, here is a list of other questions about travel nurse housing that you might find helpful.

  • What type of property do you provide? Apartment. Hotel. Etc.
  • What amenities does the apartment/housing offer? Ie fitness center, pool, business center (fax, copy, print).
  • Is parking provided? Is there a fee? Will the company cover?
  • The time frame for move-in and move-out.  Most companies will give you a day or two on both ends of the contract.
  • Contact information for housing.
  • Microwave, TV, Vacuum, provided? (don’t assume that your housing will include these items)
  • Address of the housing?

To-Do Before You Move Into your Agency Provided Travel Nurse Housing

The following is a “To Do” list to help you ease into your agency provided travel nurse housing smoothly:

  • Obtain the address and contact information of the housing and call them yourself to confirm your arrival date and time.
  • Research the area prior to your move. Use the internet. There are a ton of internet resources to check on crime rates, locations, police blotters, etc. Use these resources and if you find any information that might be concerning to you, notify your recruiter and request a different housing assignment if appropriate.
  • On arrival at the location, drive around the neighborhood and assess the safety. Does it appear to be a safe neighborhood?
  • Obtain a copy of the lease.
  • Obtain the after-hours maintenance/emergency contact information. (Sometimes this is included in your lease)
  • If you travel with a pet; request a copy of the pet rules. (You may have to sign a pet waiver).
  • Make sure to do a pre-inspection of the apartment as soon as you arrive. I would suggest that you also take photos of any damages and make sure that the manager is made aware and it is noted on your lease.
  • Check that all windows and doors latch and lock securely.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Agency Provided Travel Nurse Housing

Advantages

  • You don’t have to spend countless hours trying to find adequate and affordable travel nurse housing.
  • Many times you are actually treated better by the apartment staff when going through a large company. (They want you happy so they can get long-term business).
  • You are not responsible for monthly payments.
  • If housing is limited in the area, you might actually get better housing by using the agency’s resources.

Disadvantages

  • You have little to no control over the location and type of travel nurse housing provided.

Please keep an eye out for the next part of this series on travel nurse housing.

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Best 9 Hospitals for Travel Nurses to Work

As a travel nurse finding a great hospital or nursing facility for your next assignment can seem overwhelming. There are so many hospitals and nursing facilities within the United States.  Fellow travel nurses on our Facebook group said the below hospitals are the best hospitals for travel nurses. You will find a little bit of information from each hospital’s website as well. *They are listed in no particular order. 

Omaha, Nebraska- Children’s of Omaha

Children’s Hospital of Omaha prides itself as the only full service, pediatric healthcare center in Nebraska. They provide expertise in more than 50 pediatric specialty services to children across the five-state region and beyond.

Nebraska’s only…

They are home to Nebraska’s only Level 4 regionals NICU and the state’s only Level 2 Pediatric Trauma Center. Their regional heart center offers expertise in pediatric heart transplantation.

They are recognized as a 2018-19 Best Children’s Hospital by U.S. News & World Report in five pediatric specialties: Cardiology and Heart Surgery, Pulmonology, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Orthopedics, and Diabetes & Endocrine Disorders.

They state that “Teamwork, friendly coworkers, a supportive leadership team, and a family-like atmosphere make our workplace feel like home. You will enjoy autonomy, the respect of our world-class physicians, and the opportunity to advance your career.”

Wailuku, Hawaii- Maui Memorial Medical

Maui Memorial Medical Center is affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. They pride themselves on providing high-quality, patient-centered, affordable care for all residents and visitors on Maui and Lanai. Because they are affiliated with Kaiser Permanent they can provide industry-leading technology systems, evidence-based medicine, and nationally recognized care quality.

Together in health:

One of their missions states “From developing programs and initiatives to support the total health of our communities to creating the best place to work, deliver, and receive care, Maui Health System is committed to improving the health of the people of Maui and Lanai”

Boston, Massachusetts- Boston Medical Center

As their website states “At Boston Medical Center, all are welcome and treated equally. The best and brightest physicians, representing virtually every medical specialty, choose to work here for the opportunity to make a difference in their community and beyond.

Unwavering in its commitment to the community, BMC is a private, not-for-profit, 514-bed, academic medical center located in Boston’s historic South End. The primary teaching affiliate for Boston University School of Medicine, BMC is the largest safety-net hospital and busiest trauma and emergency services center in New England.”

Teaching:

At Boston Medical Center teaching and education are very important. They are the principal teaching affiliate of Boston University School of Medicine. They are devoted to training future generations of healthcare professionals. “Every member of the hospital’s medical and dental staff holds an academic appointment at the Boston University School of Medicine or the Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine. BMC operates 66 residency training programs with 817 resident and fellowship positions”

Charlottesville, Virginia- UVA

UVA prides itself on being a health system that includes a hospital, level I trauma center, nationally recognized cancer and heart centers and primary and specialty clinics throughout Central Virginia.

Through research and clinical trials, they stay at the leading edge of the treatments they offer.

They rank among the nation’s top hospitals because their doctors, nurses, and caregivers make every effort to push the envelope of healthcare.

UVA’s goals include:

  • Become the safest place to receive care
  • Be the healthiest work environment
  • Provide exceptional clinical care
  • Generate biomedical discovery that betters the human condition
  • Train healthcare providers of the future to work in multi-disciplinary teams
  • Ensure value-driven and efficient stewardship of resources

West Plains, Missouri- Ozark Medical Center

Ozarks Medical Center is changing the way medical care is delivered to their area by providing the rare combination of advanced medicine and compassionate care you can only get at home.

Ozarks Medical Center is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, an independent, not-for-profit organization that develops standards of quality in collaboration with health professionals.

Their website goes on to state that:

“At Ozarks Medical Center, our physicians, nurses, staff, administration, and board of directors are dedicated to providing quality care to our patients. Our goal is to demonstrate superior clinical quality, safety, and effectiveness. We strive to create a culture of safety and quality for all services: every patient, every time.

The people of this region can be very proud of the high caliber of physicians currently on staff at OMC. With more than 100 doctors, OMC has a strong core of primary care physicians as well as numerous specialists.”

Grand Forks, North Dakota- Altru Hospital

Altru Health System is a community of over 4,000 health professionals and support staff committed to caring for the region for more than 100 years. They serve over 200,000 residents in northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, they also provide an array of services to meet the needs of patients of all ages and levels of health. 

Mayo Clinic Care Network:

As you will find on their website they are the first member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, because of this Altru’s providers have access to clinically integrated tools extending Mayo Clinic’s knowledge and expertise to patients. “Together, we share a common philosophy, commitment, and mission to improve the delivery of healthcare through high quality, data-driven evidence-based medical care, and treatment.”

Seattle, Washington- Swedish Cherry Hill

Cherry Hill is part of the Swedish Hospitals. The campus is undergoing improvements currently and they have a master plan in place that they say ” The new master plan represents a 30-year vision for the future of the Swedish Cherry Hill campus that will allow Swedish to continue providing family medicine and emergency services to patients of all ages, while also treating the most complex cardiovascular and neurological diseases.”

Their commitment to improving the health of our region extends beyond patient care. Whether through physician clinics, health education, research, and innovation or other means of outreach, they are committed to caring for the people in their region and beyond.

Richmond, Virginia- Virginia Commonwealth University Health (VCU)

As you will find on their website VCU prides itself on offering above standard care. “From new, life-saving procedures or a clinical researcher who finds promise in new cancer treatment, we’re making possibilities a reality. The exciting new medicine is happening at VCU Health – every day.”

They have it all:

  • Five schools
  • An academic medical center
  • A Level I trauma center
  • One of only two NCI-designated cancer centers in Virginia
  • The region’s only full-service children’s hospital
  • More than 800 physicians in 200 specialties
  • With a community health center, dedicated research teams, facilities and valued partners in every field

Puyallup, Washington- Good Samaritan

Good Samaritan Hospital is part of the MultiCare Health System. It is a comprehensive, private not-for-profit medical system serving the growing populations of Pierce and King Counties in the greater Puget Sound region of Washington.

Their medical staff includes 1,600 of the region’s most respected primary care physicians and specialists.

Their website states that their expanding health care delivery system is based in Tacoma and includes acute care hospitals in Tacoma and Puyallup as well as:

There are 6,210 hospitals in the United States. This is just the top 9 hospitals for travel nurses as mentioned by fellow travel nurses in The Gypsy Nurse Facebook group. There may be others that you find great as well. Be sure to mention your top hospitals for travel nurses in the comments below. 

We hope this list will help you along your journey as a travel nurse.

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10 Tips to Help Travel Nurses De-Stress

If you have chosen to journey across the country as a travel nurse, you have probably hit a few bumps in the road along the way. Long days, challenging patients, conflicts with supervisors, and even bad weather can increase stress levels. It is important to take care of your health and avoid Travel Nurse Burnout. Everyone will appreciate you more if you are in a good, positive mood.

Here are 10 easy ways to reduce stress and even lower blood pressure. Take five minutes for you and give them a try the next time life throws you a little extra anxiety.

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress for Travel Nurses

1. Listen to Music

While classical music can be extremely calming and decrease levels of stress hormones, the truth is any music you enjoy can increase the flow of feel-good chemicals to the brain and help you relax.

2. Disconnect from your electronics

Turn off your cell phone, step away from your computer, look away from the screen. Uninterrupted screen time can increase stress. So be sure to take frequent breaks and from time to time disconnect completely.

3. Laughter is the best medicine

Anything that makes you chuckle will work, a joke, funny video, hilarious memory, just laugh out loud. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.”

4. Inhale and Exhale

Breathing exercises can help. One popular choice is to take a deep breath in, hold for the count of ten, then exhale for a count of ten. Just taking a few deep breaths can reduce tension and relieve stress. The extra boost of oxygen nourishes the brain and can reduce blood pressure.

5. Try aromatherapy

Escape for just a few moments with essential oil. Aromatherapy has been shown to decrease stress levels; some popular scents include lavender, vanilla, and chamomile.

6. Get your potassium

Bananas are loaded with potassium which has been shown to help regulate blood pressure and even improve energy levels during stressful times.

7. Get out and move

moving your body or any type of exercise that you enjoy stimulates blood flow, staying active regularly helps keep you fit and better prepared to handle stressful situations.

8. Have treat here and there

Good nutrition continuously helps keep you healthy, but a treat from time to time in small portions can also help boost your mood and combat stress. Dark chocolate is one of the best choices because its flavanols may improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.

9. Get your sleep

Sleep is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. But not all sleep is created equal. To be rested you need adequate amounts of uninterrupted sleep, many times it quality not quantity that can best help you de-stress.

10. Make a schedule

No doubt you will have very busy days and challenging to-do lists, to keep stress at bay, build in time between commitments. Don’t schedule something every minute to avoid rushing and fear of being late—real stressors!

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To Extend or Not to Extend: The Travel Nurse Dilemma

question.mark .nurse  300x200 - To Extend or Not to Extend: The Travel Nurse Dilemma

Should you stay or should you go? It all depends on what you’re looking for in a travel nurse contract extension.

By Megen Robbins, Cirrus Medical Staffing

By definition, travel nurses have the opportunity to move from place to place, and hospital to hospital all over the U.S. with every new assignment. Part of the fun is finding the next position offering the pay package you need, the location you want, and the facility that will help you grow professionally.

Most of the informative articles and tips circulating about travel nursing relate to helping you find a new assignment, and yet information about extending your current assignment seems almost absent from the narrative. This article will break down the pros and cons of extensions, and how to talk to your recruiter and facility about this option.

What is an extension?

An extension is when a healthcare traveler chooses to extend their current contracted assignment for an agreed-upon number of weeks. The length of the extension varies depending on what the hospital needs and what you’re willing to do.

Why extensions can be good

It’s easy. For everyone involved, extensions require less work to arrange. All of your paperwork is done, so you won’t have onboarding or orientation at the facility. You have housing set up and you already know your way around the city. Licensing and testing are already complete. Just sign on the dotted line to extend and you’re up and running!

It means you get more time to enjoy your current location. Maybe it’s the new people you’ve met that you’re not ready to leave behind quite yet or the hiking trails you haven’t had time to explore, or maybe you just need more time to think about where you’d like to go next.

You can still negotiate. Usually, recruiters provide the best deal possible on your first contract at a facility, but sometimes you can redistribute expenses into your pay package such as travel stipends, expenses for drug/TB testing and physical, criminal background check (if ordered by facility), or compliance and credentialing costs. However, if you’ve never traveled with a company before, you may have already received things like a sign-on bonus and other one-time-only perks in your first assignment’s pay package, so keep that in mind.

It’s flexible. On new assignments, the number of weeks you’ll be there is set in stone on your contract, and most facilities aren’t interested in shortening the length to appease a traveler. If you’re offered an extension, however, the facility knows you’re acclimated to your unit. Having you stay on, even if only for half the length of your first assignment, is more efficient than orienting a new traveler in your place. Unconventional contract lengths are typical for extensions, so you have more control over how long you stay.

Why extensions can be bad

It’s not in your best interests. Feeling pushed into an extension is the most basic reason why extensions can be bad for you as the traveler. Make sure you communicate to your recruiter how you feel about every aspect of the assignment throughout your contract. If there is something that can be changed to make your experience better, your recruiter can help you consider your options by pinpointing exactly what’s making you unhappy. Otherwise, your recruiter may not know what needs to change and therefore cannot help you in a meaningful way. If your recruiter knows why you’re unhappy and they aren’t actively submitting you elsewhere per your request, it might be time to find a new recruiter.

You’re unhappy at the facility itself. If you’re unhappy at the facility, and other factors don’t make staying worth it (like money), then extending may only be an option for you if no new contracts work out. Again, communicate with your recruiter and make sure they are actively submitting you to new positions so you have a new assignment lined up. One of the beauties of being a travel nurse is that you have the option to move on after a relatively short time, no questions asked.

How extensions come about

You’re approached about it by your recruiter and/or facility. Hospitals typically start to consider extensions up to four weeks prior to the end of your current contract. Sometimes you’ll get more notice; depending on the time of year or census patterns of the facility, hospitals may release their needs well in advance. You’ll be approached by your recruiter to weigh your options when they’re made aware of an opportunity to extend.

You bring the idea to your recruiter. Whenever the thought to extend occurs to you, it’s never too early to let your recruiter know. They can tell the facility you are interested in and start the process of arranging a contract that maximizes your income. Also, keep an open line of communication with your nurse manager so they know you’re interested in staying and they can work on getting any necessary approvals for the contract extension in advance.  Also, be prepared to discuss time off requests with the nurse manager and your recruiter.  You want to have those ready to go and approved up front to get the contract locked down quickly. Your recruiter can help you navigate an extension even before a facility’s needs are released. Just like you would for a new assignment, the earlier you start hunting – even if you’re looking to stay put – the better your odds of a successful placement.

The bottom line on extensions

Contract extensions should be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis – every assignment is different, and your reasons for staying may change depending on your circumstance. Extensions are a great way to get more of what’s important to you at the time; whether it’s more of the people, more money, more time to explore, or simply more time to find your next destination without a lapse between assignments.

Whatever your reasons to extend, they’re your reasons. Communicate openly with your recruiter and maybe your dilemma, to extend or not to extend, will cease to be a dilemma at all.

 

About the Author: Megen Robbins is the Marketing Supervisor at Cirrus Medical Staffing, a full-service healthcare staffing agency and travel nurse company. In her spare time, she’s usually hanging out with her two children under age 4, while simultaneously daydreaming about alone time. Find more travel nursing job advice, tips, and news on the Cirrus blog!

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