Common Mistakes Travel Nurses Make


Travel nursing requires you to adapt frequently and quickly.  Your contracts last 13 weeks, and you move on.  Along the way, you can and will make mistakes.   These mistakes could not potentially harm your patients, but they can sometimes affect your contract and how your co-workers treat you.   We recently asked our Facebook network members what the most common mistakes travel nurses make.  They voted on the following mistakes as the most common mistakes that Travel Nurses make.

Getting Lost

We have all gotten lost going somewhere new.  Make sure you know your route ahead of time.  Also, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.  That way, if you do run into issues or you do end up lost, you don’t risk missing the first day of your new assignment. Getting lost seems like it shouldn’t be an issue with GPS at our fingertips. However, sometimes GPS can mislead us or run into traffic situations that we must reroute our trip.  This could, in turn, make for a longer than anticipated trip or getting lost.

Saying “Well, at this other hospital we did it this way, not your way”

Just because you did it a certain way at other hospitals doesn’t mean that is necessarily the norm for every facility.  Many facilities have their own way of doing things that they feel are the safest and efficient way.    Even if you feel the way you did it at another facility is more efficient or prefer that way, it is best to keep that.  The staff nurses do it the way they have been trained to and aren’t really interested in hearing how it is done at other places.

Not communicating issues with your recruiter

If you are having problems with your assignment or the facility, it is essential to make these things known to your recruiter.   They aren’t going to know that there are issues if you don’t tell them.  They will probably assume things are going great for you.  Keeping the lines of communication between you and your recruiter is very important.  Communication with your recruiter is important even if there aren’t any problems. But it is essential if you are having problems.  They need to know what issues you are having. Otherwise, they can’t help you fix them.

Talking about how bad the hospital is constantly

It seems obvious, but sometimes we get annoyed, and things slip out.  Even if you don’t like the hospital or have been to much better facilities, saying so will not go well.  The facility staff may not have any experience at any other facility; to them, the facility may be great.  And even if they don’t believe this, hearing someone who is a contract employee coming in and talking bad about the facility isn’t going to make them happy.

There are probably other mistakes that travel nurses make. Have you made any of these mistakes or seen other mistakes travel nurses have made? Comment them below.

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Sick Pay Laws and Travel Nursing

Many people in the United States face a tough choice when they get sick on a workday. For people in hourly positions, this can be especially painful since many hourly positions don’t offer paid sick or emergency leave.

You may have heard the United States is the no-vacation nation, but the lack of paid sick days and sick pay is a major issue, especially in the health and hospitality industries. As a nurse, working while sick can potentially compromise patient health even further. So why do nurses feel they must choose between taking care of themselves or their bank accounts? Some sick pay leave laws are changing, positively impacting travel nurses.

Sick pay benefits

Even if they don’t affect nurses directly, paid sick days can make a huge difference in a community’s health. According to a 2016 study, areas that required paid sick leave decreased the rate of the general flu by 5.5%. Allowing paid sick leave may help reduce turnover — and the associated costs — by workers leaving to seek positions with better benefits or by workers being fired after a serious illness.

Working sick

Paid and unpaid days aside, a survey found 83% of health care workers came to work sick at least once in the past year, even though 95% believed working while sick risked patient health. The main reason? They didn’t want to let their teams down or leave their units understaffed.

While admirable, we need to reassess how we view sick days in health care. Supporting sick leave within your own workplace and in your state can do just that.

The state of sick leave in the United States

Thirteen states and Washington D.C. have enacted laws to require paid sick leave, upon meeting the requirements, applies to travel nurses. These states include Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. However, state-specific requirements and employee eligibility vary.

  • Arizona requires at least one hour of paid sick leave per every 30 hours worked unless you already have at least 40 hours of paid time off.
  • CaliforniaMaryland, and Massachusetts require one hour for every 30 hours worked, but the ability to use accumulated sick days doesn’t start until 90 days after the start of employment.
  • Connecticut requires one hour for every 40 hours worked for a maximum of 40 paid hours off a year. Employees can use these days after the first 30 days of employment.
  • New Jersey paid sick leave takes effect Oct. 29, 2018. Per diem, health care employees are exempt from the mandate.
  • Oregon requires business owners with more than 10 employees to give employees 40 hours of sick leave at the start of each year.
  • Vermont states that people who are employed for less than 20 weeks are exempt from the paid leave mandate.
  • Washington employers, like Connecticut employers, must offer one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours of work, but employees can’t use it until after 90 days of work.

While some states may not have statewide policies, certain cities within those states could have their own sick leave mandates. For a more detailed list, click here.

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Travel Nurse Interviews- Tips to Book Your Next Assignment

For most people, interviewing can be nerve-wracking, from what to wear to engaging with the interviewer. However, for travel nurses, interviewing is an entirely different experience. Not only will they not be in person, but there’s really no set standard either. Whether you’ve done a dozen interviews or are prepping for your first travel nurse interview, here are our best tips on how to prepare for your travel nurse interview, what to expect, and how to secure your next job.

Why Do Travel Nurses Need Interviews?

While hospitals and facilities are looking to fill staffing shortages, that doesn’t mean they’re not concerned with who will join their teams. Like any job, your interview will determine if you’re a good culture fit as well, ensuring your skills match your profile.

  • Experience: The employer will be looking to ensure you have the expertise to provide top-notch patient care.
  • Culture Fit: Does your personality mesh with their team? How does your work style — think how you organize your shifts — complement their unit?
  • Accommodations: Typically, this is where you’d ask if the facility can make arrangements around any dates you want off. Given the current pandemic, consider offering up flexibility.

But, and this is a big deal, it’s also your opportunity to ensure the facility is a good fit for you. It’s your chance to gauge how the unit operates and discover details on how you can be an asset to their team; this is a crucial step in determining if you want to pursue an opportunity with them.

Interviews & What You Can Expect

While each interview you do will be different, there are a few things you can count on to remain consistent. Namely, that it will be a phone interview; before your interview, you and your recruiter will discuss the facility. They should never ‘blind submit’ your profile to a hospital. If they do, understand that this practice isn’t standard, and you can easily find an agency that will ensure you have final approval on all submits. Let’s get back to travel nurse interviews and what you need to know.

Pre-Interview

Some facilities may conduct a pre-interview. Think of it as a resume check — this can be a big time-saver for facilities by double-checking your skillset before scheduling a formal interview. A pre-interview also opens up more time for your unit-specific questions when you speak to the hiring manager in your standard interview.

Should I expect a pre-interview screen? Not necessarily. Some facilities forego this process, and others may confirm your background with your agency first. Your recruiter will be your go-to resource during this time and should advise you on whether or not to expect a pre-interview.

Tips for Making a Strong Impression Over the Phone

The standard in-person interview offers the opportunity to communicate with facial expressions, hand gestures, and eye contact. Interviewing over the phone can feel awkward, so you’ll need to focus on sounding confident and competent. Consider these tips to help you make a strong impression.

  • Speak slowly: Have you ever accidentally combined two words, like in that scene from Mean Girls? Take a breath, speak slowly, and utilize natural pauses to make it easier on the interviewer while also minimizing those weird blunders — gruel.
  • Pay attention to inflection: Did you ever have a professor ask, “Are you sure?” Make sure your tone reflects confidence by avoiding up-speak — that’s when your voice goes up, like when you ask a question.
  • Stand up & smile: This one sounds weird, but it makes a big difference! Smiling can change your speech patterns, and people can pick up on that! Similarly, standing up improves your posture and projects confidence.
  • Practice on the phone: Have your recruiter, a family member, or coworker ask you questions over the phone. Ask them for feedback on the clarity of your answers.

Travel Nurse Interview

Again, there’s no such thing as standard here. Your formal interview can be a brief 5-minute check of basic culture questions, or it can be a lengthy interview filled with behavioral questions. It’s a good thing for travel nurses. They are so adaptable because there are a few different interview types too.

Interview With Hospital Staff

You can expect to chat with unit managers, charge nurses, or hiring managers for these interviews. These representatives will likely ask about your schedule and have scenario-specific questions for you. As the ‘boots-on-the-ground’ interviewers, they’re also your best source for you to investigate topics like:

  • Scrub color
  • Float expectations
  • Day-to-day workflow
  • Patient population
  • Traveler history

You may have an interview with HR staff. While they might not have access to unit details, they still have useful insights for nurses. HR staff can arm you with an overview of the hospital itself like:

  • Resources available to your unit
  • Transports
  • Pharmacy on the unit
  • Internal medicine doctors on a unit
  • CNAs/PCTs and Environmental Services on the unit

Automated Interviews

After submitting your profile, you’d hear back with potential interview times with a manager in an ideal world. Unfortunately, as you know, travel nursing is all about adjusting when things aren’t ideal. Enter the Voice Automated Interview (VA). Instead of speaking with a person, you will record your answers to a list of questions selected by the manager. The manager then listens to your answers and decides to hire you based on your responses and skills checklist. Here a few things to note:

  • You should be notified before submission: If a hospital uses VA, you should know before you decide to submit.
  • Don’t expect to speak to anyone on the unit: Understand that you will forgo speaking with someone about unit-specifics like scheduling.
  • You should be able to submit questions: Typically, if a hospital uses VA, you can submit questions in writing; however, you may not get a quick response or receive a response at all.

Look for Recruiter Who Takes Your Career Seriously

There’s so much to consider when it comes to interviewing. Particularly when thinking about what’s essential for you to ask; that’s why it’s crucial to find an experienced recruiter. A good recruiter will not only guide you through the process but coach you to make the most of each interview. Ask your recruiter if they have a list of questions for you. Olivia Carper, TNAA Recruitment Manager, coaches her nurses to ensure they’re prepared and confident. We asked her for her top tips for travel nurses interviewing for the first time:

  • As soon as you get a call, ask for the manager’s name and contact number if you get disconnected and need to call back. It is also good to have to help your recruiter secure the offer for you so that you can focus on those additional questions when you call back.
  • Keep a list with you of vital questions you need to know to accept an offer with confidence. Think about what you need to know to do your job safely.
  • Close the deal! If you like the job, tell them and ask for it. Asking for the job is key, and that can feel uncomfortable. It helps to practice what to say, “This job sounds like a perfect fit for me. Can I tell my recruiter you will be sending over an offer? I am ready to start in 2 weeks.”

We hope you found these tips to help in acing your travel nurse interviews. Do you have any suggestions for travel nurse interviews?

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Tips for Flying with Pets

Traveling to a new city is common for a travel nurse, but traveling with a pet is nerve-racking. Pets can respond differently when flying, and it can be horrifying for them. To make traveling easier with your pets, here are some tips for flying with pets.

1.) Book as Early As You Can
Most airlines can only take so many pets per flight, so you should book your tickets as soon as you know you are moving. You should also check before you book your ticket to make sure that the airline has a ‘pet seat’ available. You should try to book with the agent who confirmed the ‘pet seat’ so you are sure that you are both on the same flight.

2.) Buy the Right Carrier
Before planning your trip, you need to buy the right carrier. Your pet is going to be in it for a few hours, so you should think about what would be comfortable for them for that time.

3.) Direct Flight
If you can, book a direct flight with no stops. This will mean that your pet is not waiting hours in its carrier waiting for the flight to take off.

As always, do your own research. You know your pet best. They may need more than what we mentioned in this article. When traveling with a pet, there are many other considerations from housing options, care, and expenses. Don’t take traveling with a pet lightly. Do a little pre-planning and research, and your furry friend can travel with you, enriching both your lives.

Being a travel nurse means that you will be traveling a lot, so you may need to take your pets. Planning is the number one thing that you need to do when you travel with your pets. We hope you found these tips for flying with pets helpful. Do you have tips on flying or traveling with your pet? Please post your suggestions in the comments below.

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Mental Health Resources for Travel Nurses

It’s only been a little over three months since COVID-19 started its sweep of the United States of America and just two weeks of protesting for racial justice. And while coping mentally and emotionally with the combination of current events is difficult for most, there’s a palpable, tangible layer of trauma added for nurses. Nurses expose themselves to trauma daily that often hides behind dark humor and a packed schedule of adventure.

This is different.

In just a few short months, nurses and frontline workers shouldered the burden of caring for an unknown. Bringing on an onslaught of fear, stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. This stress can be particularly isolating for travel nurses who answered the call that took them away from their support systems.

Mental Health Resources for Travel Nurses

Whether it’s a fear of infecting loved ones with the coronavirus or the trauma of racial injustice, it’s clear a crucial part of nursing the country back to health lies in promoting mental health resources. Below we’ll share options for travel nurses. While availability may vary, we believe it’s essential to find an option that works for you.

1. Support Groups and Webinars

Storytelling and sharing can generate empathy. For nurses, talking about the hard stuff to non-nurses can sometimes turn into comforting listeners rather than releasing trauma. Many nurses find comfort in sharing with people who understand the emotional toll your job can expose you to daily.

  • The Compassion Caravan: The American Holistic Nurses Association started this project as 2020 is their 40th anniversary and Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday. Their website states this is a “national project led by holistic nurses for all of the nursing to offer compassion through heart-centered presence, holistic communication, networking and focused experiences in self-reflection and healing.” They will hold virtual workshops and listening circles through October 2020. Learn more here and scroll down to see event dates.
  • Frontline Nurses WikiWisdom: This collaboration between John Hopkins School of Nursing and the American Journal of Nursing provides a space where nurses fighting the Covid-19 pandemic can share their experiences. It allows sharing your knowledge, experience, and challenges about working on a pandemic front line. And they’re committed to keeping this space available 24/7 until this pandemic exits. Learn more and register here.

2. Mental Health Apps for On-The-Go Therapy

Picture this, you’ve finished a long shift and feel drawn to talk to a mental health professional, but you’re in a city you don’t know. So, you’ll search for a therapist and potentially wear another mask to be in a physical office. Thankfully, it’s 2020, and we can do almost everything from our phones.

  • Talkspace: From a dedicated COVID-19 Instagram channel to therapist-led Facebook groups, the industry-leading app has an option for just about everyone. More than that, they have a special offer for nurses and frontline workers. Learn more here.
  • Headspace: This mindfulness app promotes tools and meditations to relieve stress and help you feel more resilient. And now, they’re offering free services to those affected by unemployment. Learn more here.
  • Youper: This AI platform uses anonymous data to discover trends and short conversations to engage users in healthier moods. It incorporates cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), mindfulness, and meditation. Learn more here.

3. Resources From Your Agency

Many travel nurse agencies have expanded their benefits programs to fit better with nurses’ needs — including mental health and emotional well-being resources. Whether you’re currently on assignment or considering a new assignment, now is a great time to ask your recruiter what programs are available to you. While you may also see additional programs, like webinars and meet-ups surrounding nursing’s clinical aspects during a pandemic, look at what your agency offers regardless of a crisis. Below are a few offerings your agency may provide.

  • Employee Assistance Programs: EAPs provide a range of different services and/or resources to address personal issues that may interfere with an employee’s well-being. These programs offer assessment and resources that may help employees with emotional issues, interpersonal relationships, legal problems, and financial difficulties. Some top agencies are adding EAPs as a benefit so their nurses can show up for their patients. Oh, and they’re typically at no additional cost.
  • Chaplain Programs: It’s easier for staff nurses to feel comfortable with their hospital Chaplain. Many travel nurses might not even meet the Chaplain at their facility before moving to a new assignment. That’s why select agencies have their own non-denominational Chaplain. A Chaplain primarily communicates over the phone with travelers, but having someone you can quickly contact in times of spiritual or emotional support can be a relief.
  • Benefits Specialists: Does your insurance cover mental health counseling? How do you find out? A great travel nurse agency should have someone who can speak with you to explain your benefits and how they work with your current situation. Your benefits specialist can answer your insurance questions, guide you by selecting the right coverage for you, and send you important info regarding your mental health options.

While it’s easy to say that 2020 has proven tumultuous thus far, there will be a time when we’re on the other side. To prepare for what’s next, it’s paramount for you to prioritize investing in your emotional well-being as a travel nurse. Because elective surgeries will return, assignments will open, and bucket-list adventures will be back on.

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Why It’s Important for Travel Nurses to Take Vacations

While travel nursing has the perks of competitive pay, getting to visit new cities, and adventure, you’re still working. Each assignment you take offers new adventures, but it’s still important to take a work-free vacation as a travel nurse and enjoy yourself without worrying about your next shift. Taking even a short break in between assignments is a great way to arrive at your next assignment refreshed and ready to take on new challenges.

Moving Can Be Stressful

Every seasoned travel nurse learns how to be a pro at moving every few months. However, moving into a new apartment, getting used to a new city, getting accustomed to new job duties, and getting to know new coworkers and friends can take a toll on even the most extroverted traveler. Taking a work-free vacation once a year or more is a fantastic way to de-stress and enjoy leisure time before your next assignment.

Vacations Help you Recharge

On assignment, you usually have a daily routine, and it’s easy to lose perspective and forget about life outside your next shift. On vacation, you have time to revisit your goals, explore new surroundings, and abandon your regular schedule to indulge in whatever you enjoy but don’t have enough time for at work. Taking regular vacations also helps prevent burnout in your career.

It’s Good for You

All nurses know the importance of mental and physical health, and practicing self-care is crucial. Nursing is a hard occupation. You’re on your feet most of the day and responsible for taking care of your patients. Stress is a major cause of heart disease and high blood pressure, and studies even show that those who vacation reduce their risk of heart disease and heart attack!

Vacations Make You a Happier Person

Research shows that chronic stress levels release hormones that can lead to depression and anxiety. Taking a stress-free vacation contributes to your mental health and happiness, and the effects will last longer than your vacation.

Vacations Can Improve your Relationships

While it can be relaxing to vacation alone, taking vacations with family, close friends or your significant other can make your relationship stronger. Exploring new areas, enjoying stress-free leisure time without worry about work, and having new adventures together strengthens the bond with the people you care about most.

Taking Vacations Make you Better at your Job

Taking vacations makes you happier, and, logically, happy people perform better at work. In fact, one study showed that for each 10 additional vacation hours an employee took per year, their performance review was 8% higher.

The benefits to vacationing are clear – consider it a self-care necessity rather than an indulgence! It’s easy to say you will go on a vacation and never get around to it. You only live once, so what are you waiting for?

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Items to Collect That Don’t Take Up Space

As travel nurses, you are going to new locations every 13 weeks. Sometimes even sooner.  While taking pictures and making memories are great, sometimes you want something to remember each place.  The key to these collectibles is to keep them small because you are traveling and only have so much space.  Here are some great items to collect from each location that doesn’t take up a lot of space.

Items to collect that don’t take up space

Postcards

Postcards are the first item on our list, they are easy to find in most locations, and they are easy to store. Postcards are great because you can write on them, for example, what was your favorite thing about that assignment or city.  They are also great because they take up so little space; you could buy a photo album and place them in it or store them in a box.

Magnets

Magnets make great collectibles because they don’t take up much room except on the refrigerator!  They are usually easy to find if you visit truck stops or gas stations along highways

Key chains

Again, key chains make great collectibles because they are often small.  While you may not use them for day-to-day use, you can keep them hung on key hooks or just put them away to look at and reminisce on your travels.

Shot Glasses

Shot glasses are great because they are small and don’t take up much room.  Because of this, they can be displayed out as décor pieces.  They are often not very costly, either.

Coffee Mugs

Coffee mugs can be tricky because they can take up some room. However, if you always keep a few with you and rotate the ones you take with you on an assignment, you won’t have to worry about that.  Starbucks even has mugs with each state on them and pictures of landmarks and such from each state.  If there is a state park or visitor center near you, they often carry these as well.

Pins

Pins are great because you can put them on a bag, hat, or really anything that you want to.  You could also take the backs off and place them on a corkboard as a display piece.  The options you get with pins are almost endless.  Pins are a fun thing to collect!

Shirts/ Hooded Sweatshirts

Shirts and sweatshirts are great because not only are they collectibles, but you can wear them.  Again, you can rotate the ones you bring with you on assignment.  They are often found at gas stations along highways.

Key chains

Again, key chains make great collectibles because they are often small.  While you may not use them for day-to-day use, you can keep them hung on key hooks or just put them away to look at and reminisce on your travels.

Charms for bracelets

Another great option is a charm for a bracelet.  While it may eventually fill up, you could get another bracelet.  Bracelets and jewelry take up very little space.  Pandora is just one option for charms and charm bracelets.  This option also lets you be creative because you can pick a charm that reminds you of something you love about a city or state you have had an assignment in.

Remembering your adventures is an important aspect of travel nursing.  These are just a few things that travel nurses have collected along their travels.  There are many more, but these options are easy to take with you on the road and really don’t take up a lot of space.  Some of these things are probably no-brainers, but some you probably never even thought about.

What travel nurse items do you collect? Post in the comments!

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Ways to Combat 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. 

Avoiding travel nursing loneliness is possible! 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 combat loneliness you may feel while away from your family and friends.

Get 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 gym class 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 that you can work around your work schedule!

Video chat:

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 to use 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 and avoid travel nursing loneliness.

Get out:

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. 

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 combat loneliness while making friends! 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. 

Learn 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 from. 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 is really endless; it just depends on what interests you and what you think you will enjoy.

Volunteer at an animal shelter:

Giving of your time is also a great way to combat 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 attention you can give them. At the same time, 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 combat loneliness while traveling for an assignment. There are many more ways. 

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Travel Nurse Interviews: Tips to Ace Your Travel Nurse Interview

For most people, interviewing can be nerve-wracking, from what to wear to engaging with the interviewer. However, for travel nurses, interviewing is an entirely different experience. Not only will they not be in person, but there’s really no set standard either. Whether you’ve done a dozen interviews or are prepping for your first travel nurse interview, here are our best tips on how to prepare, what to expect, and how to secure your next job.

Why Do Travel Nurses Need Interviews?

While hospitals and facilities are looking to fill staffing shortages, that doesn’t mean they’re not concerned with who will join their teams. Like any job, your interview will determine if you’re a good culture fit as well, ensuring your skills match your profile.

  • Experience: The employer will be looking to ensure you have the expertise to provide top-notch patient care.
  • Culture Fit: Does your personality mesh with their team? How does your work style — think how you organize your shifts — complement their unit?
  • Accommodations: Typically, this is where you’d ask if the facility can make arrangements around any dates you want off. Given the current pandemic, consider offering up flexibility.

But, and this is a big deal, it’s also your opportunity to ensure the facility is a good fit for you. It’s your chance to gauge how the unit operates and discover details on how you can be an asset to their team; this is a crucial step in determining if you want to pursue an opportunity with them.

Interviews & What You Can Expect

While each interview you do will be different, there are a few things you can count on to remain consistent. Namely, that it will be a phone interview. Before your interview, you and your recruiter will discuss the facility. They should never ‘blind submit’ your profile to a hospital. If they do, understand that this practice isn’t standard, and you can easily find an agency that will ensure you have final approval on all submits. Let’s get back to interviews and what you need to know.

Pre-Interview

Some facilities may conduct a pre-interview. Think of it as a resume check — this can be a big time-saver for facilities by double-checking your skillset before scheduling a formal interview. A pre-interview also opens up more time for your unit-specific questions when you speak to the hiring manager in your formal interview.

Can I expect a pre-interview screen? Not necessarily. Some facilities forego this process, and others may confirm your background with your agency first. Your recruiter will be your go-to resource during this time and should advise you on whether or not to expect a pre-interview.

Tips for Making a Strong Impression Over the Phone

The standard in-person interview offers the opportunity to communicate with facial expressions, hand gestures, and eye contact. Interviewing over the phone can feel awkward, so you’ll need to focus on sounding confident and competent. Consider these tips to help you make a strong impression.

  • Speak slowly: Have you ever accidentally combined two words, like in that scene from Mean Girls? Take a breath, speak slowly, and utilize natural pauses to make it easier on the interviewer while also minimizing those weird blunders — gruel.
  • Pay attention to inflection: Did you ever have a professor ask, “Are you sure?” Make sure your tone reflects confidence by avoiding up-speak — that’s when your voice goes up, like when you ask a question.
  • Stand up & smile: This one sounds weird, but it makes a big difference! Smiling can change your speech patterns and people can pick up on that! Similarly, standing up improves your posture and projects confidence.
  • Practice on the phone: Have your recruiter, a family member, or coworker ask you questions over the phone. Ask them for feedback on the clarity of your answers.

Travel Nurse Interview

Again, there’s no such thing as standard here. Your formal interview can be a brief 5-minute check of basic culture questions or it can be a lengthy interview filled with behavioral questions. It’s a good thing travel nurses are so adaptable, because there are a few different interview types too.

Travel Nurse Interview With Hospital Staff

For these interviews, you can expect to chat with unit managers, charge nurses, or hiring managers. These representatives will likely ask about your schedule and have scenario-specific questions for you. As the ‘boots-on-the-ground’ interviewers, they’re also your best source for you to investigate topics like:

  • Scrub color
  • Patient population
  • Day-to-day workflow
  • Traveler history
  • Float expectations

You may have an interview with HR staff. While they might not have access to unit details, they still have useful insights for nurses. HR staff can arm you with an overview of the hospital itself like:

  • Resources available to your unit
  • Internal medicine doctors on a unit
  • Pharmacy on the unit
  • Transports
  • CNAs/PCTs and Environmental Services on the unit

Automated Interviews

In an ideal world, after submitting your profile, you’d hear back with potential interview times with a manager. Unfortunately, as you know, travel nursing is all about adjusting when things aren’t ideal. Enter the Voice Automated Interview (VA). Instead of speaking with a person, you will record your answers to a list of questions selected by the manager. The manager then listens to your answers and decides to hire you based on your responses and skills checklist. Here a few things to note:

  • You should be notified before submission: If a hospital uses VA, you should know before you decide to submit.
  • You won’t speak to anyone on the unit: Understand that you will forgo speaking with someone about unit-specifics like scheduling.
  • You should be able to submit questions: Typically, if a hospital uses VA, you can submit questions in writing; however, you may not get a quick response or receive a response at all.

Look for Recruiter Who Takes Your Career Seriously

There’s so much to consider when it comes to interviewing. Particularly when thinking about what’s essential for you to ask; that’s why it’s crucial to find an experienced recruiter. A good recruiter will not only guide you through the process but coach you to make the most of each interview. Ask your recruiter if they have a list of questions for you. Olivia Carper, TNAA Recruitment Manager, coaches her nurses to ensure they’re prepared and confident. We asked her for her top tips for travel nurses interviewing for the first time:

  • As soon as you get a call, ask for the manager’s name and contact number in case you get disconnected and need to call back. It also is good to have to help your recruiter secure the offer for you so that when you call back, you can focus on those additional questions.
  • Keep a list with you of vital questions you need to know to accept an offer with confidence. Think about what you need to know to do your job safely.
  • Close the deal! If you like the job, tell them and ask for it. Asking for the job is key, and that can feel uncomfortable. It helps to practice what to say, “This job sounds like a perfect fit for me, can I tell my recruiter you will be sending over an offer? I am ready to start in 2 weeks.”

We hope you found these travel nurse interview tips helpful. Do you have any tips for travel nurse interviews?

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Tips To Help Travel Nurses Survive Night Shift

For many travel nurses, working the night shift is a way of life.  Some natural “night owl” travel RNs make this transition very easy and actually thrive in a 7p-7a type of environment.  For most travel nurses, however, this schedule can be extremely challenging, even on a temporary basis.  On your feet, all night, working a crazy-busy shift, fighting natural and work-induced exhaustion…does this sound familiar? For those travel nurses that are working nights, here are some tips to help make the most of this demanding schedule.

1.) Eat smart:

When you’re physically and mentally tired, our bodies often crave “comfort food” to satisfy the unusual demands of a nighttime schedule.  The problem with this is that there is a difference between a craving for junk food and the real need for healthy energy foods to keep you properly nourished.  It’s very important to try to avoid the easy-to-grab snacks out of the break room vending machine.  Refined sugars, empty calories, high levels of sodium, and bad fats actually wreak havoc on your system and your sleep patterns, not to mention your overall health. 

Eating smaller, more frequent healthy snacks will keep you awake and energized throughout your shift.  Fresh fruits and vegetables, high-quality proteins, and frequent hydration with water or nutritious drinks are the keys.  Foods like bananas, low-salt nuts, low fat (and low sugar) yogurt, low-fat cheese and are great for keeping your engine running throughout the busy evening. And for a sweet treat, try dried fruits instead of candy bars.

2.) Use Caffeine with Caution:

It may seem like a great idea to grab that cup of coffee and give yourself a little extra jolt to get through the back half of your shift, but it may come back and haunt you when you finally do get home and try to wind down from a long “night”.  Instead, have your caffeine earlier in your shift and try to avoid it as much as possible in the latter half.  Avoid “energy drinks” at all costs.  These drinks usually contain high amounts of sugar and a ridiculous amount of caffeine that can make you jittery and uncomfortable during a shift, not to mention give you an upset stomach.

3. Sleep Schedule

Working odd hour shifts makes it difficult to get into a regular routine, particularly when you are trying to maintain some semblance of a social life!  Take steps to ensure you get some quality sleep when you get home.  Simple things such as blackout shades to keep the sunlight out, earplugs to block noise, turning off your phone and other electronic distractions, and even scheduling your sleep will all make it easier to obtain those 7-8 hours of rest that most of us require to maintain our health and well-being.

4.) Stay active during breaks:

Take a quick walk to the cafeteria, step outside the facility for some fresh air, do some light stretching exercises, or rhythmic breathing.  It can all help to keep you awake, refreshed, and mentally alert during your shift.

5.) Exercise Regularly:

Regularly scheduled exercise throughout the week is critical to maintaining healthy sleep patterns. Try and find a time each day to get 45-60 minutes of activity each day to keep in shape and keep you feeling good. If motivation is a problem, see if you can find a colleague that will be your workout partner to help get you moving or drag you to the gym on those days where you would rather be curled up on the couch with Netflix and a bag of Doritos.

It takes a special breed of travel nurse to work the night shift, either that or being the “newest” member of the staff!  As a travel RN, it may even be the shift you end up working because of staffing shortages!  Whatever the reason, your night shift experience does not necessarily have to be a bad one if you plan correctly and follow some of these guidelines.

If you’re a night shift nurse and you successfully navigate the evenings, please share some of your tips below with your colleagues who may need some help adjusting.

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