To Extend or Not to Extend: The Travel Nurse Dilemma

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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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Happy Travel Nurses Day 2018!

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Travel Nurses Day is Friday, October 12th, 2018! Are you ready to celebrate?

Falling leaves and temperatures aren’t the only harbingers of fall. For travel nurses, another sure sign of the season is Travel Nurses Day!

Medical Solutions created the annual holiday in 2013 to recognize and appreciate hard-working travel nurses everywhere. As a travel nurse, we invite you to join in the fun on Friday, October 12th!

Over at Medical Solutions, the sixth annual Travel Nurses Day celebration is already in full swing. Starting today, you can play quizzes, enter contests, listen to music, and win PRIZES all week long!

Here’s what’s on tap for Travel Nurses Day 2018:

  • #PostcardsFromTheRoad Instagram Contest
  • What’s Your Adventure Style? Quiz
  • Where Should You Travel Next? Quiz
  • Car Concert Spotify playlist

This year’s quizzes can be taken as a means to enter to win one of 10 $50 Amazon gift cards. The #PostcardsFromTheRoad Photo Contest asks travelers to share images from their journeys for the chance to win one of five $300 Amazon gift cards.

You can visit TravelNursesDay.com anytime starting now until midnight, central standard time on October 14, 2018. Prize winners will be announced the following week.

Happy Travel Nurses Day to all you amazing travelers out there!

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Preparing for Hurricane Florence: What Travel Nurses Should Know

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A look at Hurricane Florence from space. The Category 2 storm is expected to hit the East Coast this weekend.

Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall near the Carolina coast later today and into the weekend. Forecasters are already calling it “the storm of a lifetime.” Are you in the path of the storm? If you are, don’t panic. Here’s what travel nurses can do to stay safe before and after a natural disaster while on assignment.

Before the storm:

Learn your facility’s emergency response plan: Most facilities have an emergency response plan in place to protect their patients and staff during critical events or natural disasters. In some cases, hospitals will even evacuate their patients if they can. However, just like hospitals, no two emergency response plans are alike. So, make sure you understand your role within that plan. Your unit manager should be able to brief you on your specific role and answer any of your questions.

Stock up on supplies: Prepare for what you’ll need before and after a natural disaster. The American Red Cross recommends this handy checklist of emergency supplies. For example, you should have a 2-week supply of non-perishable food and water as well as a full tank of gas in your car. You may also want to purchase a battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio so you can get the latest information from the National Weather Service.

Consider your housing situation: Make sure you have a Plan B for housing in the event that your current living situation becomes uninhabitable. Talk with your recruiter and your facility managers beforehand to determine your best course of action.

After the storm:

Contact your friends and family: Let your loved ones know you are safe. You can do so on Facebook or use the Safe and Well website. As a travel nurse, it’s also a great idea to put your recruiter on this list.

Avoid flooded areas and downed power lines: Flooding brings with it the risk of waterborne bacterial contamination and downed power lines pose a potential threat in the aftermath of a storm.

Don’t drink the tap water until authorities have given the all-clear. Tap water might not be safe to drink immediately following a natural disaster, so use your bottled water and/or boil the tap water before you use it.

Should you ever find yourself preparing for a natural disaster while on assignment, we hope these tips can help you stay safe. Thank you to all the travel nurses who have weathered similar storms or disasters in the name of patient care! You inspire all of us!

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Travel Nurse Holiday Contracts: Four Things to Know

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What’s on your wish list for a travel nurse holiday contract? Follow these tips to get the best experience!

It may only be July, but Christmas is fast approaching for those in the travel nurse industry. If you are a travel nurse, now is the perfect time to start thinking about where and how you want to spend the holidays. So, here’s what you need to know about travel nurse holiday contracts:

 

  1. Plan Ahead: Seasoned travel nurses know the early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the ideal assignment. They also know that October, the month when most holiday contracts begin, tends to be a busy time in the industry. (Hello flu season!) However, while demand for travel nurses is high, so too is the supply. Many travel nurses like to get one more assignment into the books before the year ends. This means competition for these jobs could be intense. So, it’s wise to start your job hunt in August or September if you’re planning on working a holiday contract.

 

  1. Make Your Contract Work For You: There’s a common myth among travelers that a holiday contract means you’ll automatically be working all holidays. However, that’s not necessarily true. For example, some hospitals might not want you to work any holidays while on contract because they simply can’t afford you to do so. Then again, other hospitals may only be hiring travel nurses to help fill in during the busy holiday season. In any event, if you don’t want to work on or around certain days, simply communicate your preferences during the interview process and ensure these requests are written into your contract.

 

  1. Talk with Your Recruiter: Chances are your recruiter has had plenty of experience helping travel nurses like you find their ideal assignments. So, help them help you. Let your recruiter know which states you’d prefer to work in as well as which holidays, if any, you are willing to work. They might not always be able to get everything you’re looking for, but it is super helpful to have an industry insider’s guidance and negotiation skills when you need them.

 

  1. Competition for Post-Holiday Contracts Is High: Do you plan to skip the holiday assignment and start traveling again after the New Year? You’re certainly not alone; after all, that’s the beauty of the travel nursing career! If you do decide to take the holidays off, you might want to wait until mid-January to find your next assignment. Early January is yet another peak season for travel nurses, and competition for these jobs is high. For those already on assignment, it might be a good idea to extend your current contract, if that option is available to you. Your job hunt will certainly be less stressful!

 

Have you worked a holiday contract before? What other advice would you suggest? Leave your comments in the section below!

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Nurses Week 2018 Steals and Deals

Nurses Week 2018

Nurses Week is May 6th to 12th! Get the most out of your Nurses Week with these deals!

Nurses Week 2018 is almost here! Are you ready? To help you celebrate your week to the fullest, Travel Nursing Central has compiled a list of Nurses Week discounts, freebies, and deals for you.

Cinnabon: As the proud sponsor of the DAISY Foundation, Cinnabon is understandably all about nurse appreciation. During Nurses Week, show your medical ID badge to any participating Cinnabon store and receive a free, delicious treat full of gooey goodness! 

American Nurses Association: Interested in technology and nursing? Then ANA’s free webinar “Emerging Technology and Its Impact on Nursing Practice” is for you! Participants will earn a free CE and gain useful insight into the impact of technology on a nurse’s daily practice, real-world advice for adapting, and how to enhance patient care using technology. The live webinar is slated for May 9th at 1 p.m. ET. Registration closes at May 8th at 7 p.m. You can learn more here.

Lippincott Nursing Center: Enter for a chance to win a $50.00 Scrubs.com gift card at Lippincott Nursing Center’s website. All you need to do is explain what #NurseStrong means to you when you complete their form here. Applicants will also receive a $10 off CE coupon just by participating.

Medical Solutions: This travel nurse staffing company is pulling out all the stops for Nurses Week. Head over to WeLoveOurNurses.com and play trivia games, quizzes, and more for a chance to win some amazing prizes, including a $1,500 grand prize.

Disney World: The most magical place on Earth loves nurses too. They offer a hotel discount to nurses at the Swan and Dolphin. When booking your rooms, use the code DREAMS to receive the discount. You will have to provide your medical ID badge at check-in to get the discount. For more information, click here.

At DiscoverNursing.com, Johnson & Johnson continues to offer free nurse themed magnets, coloring books, a “Nurses Heal” pin, and many other complimentary resources including brochures, posters, videos, and software.

Did we miss any Nurses Week activities or events out there? Let us know in the comments below. In the meantime, Happy Nurses Week to all you hardworking nurses!

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2018’s Top 10 Best and Worst States for Healthcare

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Where does your state stack up on the Top 10 lists for healthcare?

U.S. News and World Report recently announced its annual Best States list. The publication evaluated all 50 states across 77 different metrics. When it came to examining the best and worst in healthcare, the states were ranked based on three board measures: access to healthcare, healthcare quality, and public health.

Hawaii earned top honors this year, giving travel nurses everywhere one more reason to love the Aloha State. Meanwhile, Mississippi received the lowest grade in healthcare. If you’re looking for your next travel nursing assignment, it’s not a bad idea to check out where your state falls on the list.

So, without further ado, below are the Top 10 Best and Worst States for Healthcare:

 The 10 best states are:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Washington
  3. Iowa
  4. Connecticut
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Vermont
  7. Minnesota
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Colorado
  10. Utah

The 10 worst states are:

  1. Mississippi
  2. Arkansas
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Louisiana
  5. Alabama
  6. Kentucky
  7. West Virginia
  8. Tennessee
  9. Georgia
  10. South Carolina

Click here to read the full report and methodology.

Thanks to the nature of travel nursing, you’ve probably had experiences as a healthcare professional in several, if not all, of these states. So, as a travel nurse, did the U.S. News and World Report’s list for best and worst states in healthcare surprise you? Let us know in the comments below!

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3 Things to Know About the eNLC

Are you ready for the new and improved eNLC?

Are you ready for the new and improved eNLC?

Since 2000, the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) has allowed nurses to provide care in multiple, participating states with just one license. Now, 25 member states and several years later, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing is giving the NLC a makeover.

The new compact, known as the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC), will be effective on January 19, 2018. Among other additions, the eNLC adopted 11 uniform licensure requirements and revised its policy on federal criminal background checks.

So, what does that mean for you, the travel nurse? Here are the top 3 things you should know about the eNLC implementation process:

  1. Not all current NLC member states will be in the new eNLC. The NCSBN enacted the eNLC on July 20, 2017 when 26 states passed eNLC legislation. However, other states needed more time to become eNLC members, hence the January go-live date. During this transitional phase, some states have passed legislation, others are in the process, and a few states, like Colorado, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and Rhode Island, will remain in the original NLC. 
  1. The eNLC has a few new members. The good news is that Wyoming, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Georgia, and Florida are now part of the eNLC club. So, that means travel nurses who meet the new eNLC requirements will have additional states in which they can practice. 
  1. These changes could affect you. According to the NCSBN’s website, travel nurses in eNLC states that were members of the original NLC may be grandfathered in. There are a few exceptions. If you obtained your perm state compact license on or after July 20, 2017, then you will need to meet the new eNLC requirements. Additionally, if you are in a state that was not part of the original NLC, but will be a part of the eNLC, then you will need to update your license to be eNLC compliant. Note that if you are in a state that has passed eNLC legislation, you will no longer have privileges in Colorado, Wisconsin, New Mexico or Rhode Island. You can, however, get a single state license for these states.

Want more information on the eNLC implementation process and where your state stands? We have a few helpful resources for you:

eNLC FAQs

NCSBN’s Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact Implementation 

The Nurse Licensure Compact

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7 Helpful Pieces of Advice for New Travel Nurses

A career in travel nursing offers several key differences from a traditional nursing position. For many nurses, it is a uniquely exciting career, offering experiences and new settings they would not experience otherwise.

hospital%20nurse%20with%20wheelchair%20patient 600x - 7 Helpful Pieces of Advice for New Travel NursesFor some nurses, travel nursing offers the right combination of excitement and job flexibility.

If you’re interested in a travel nursing career, read up on personal accounts by experienced travel nurses, and take the time to select the right travel nursing agency. Here are seven other helpful pieces of advice for new travel nurses.

1. Organize All Essential Documentation

The ability to plan ahead is essential to a successful travel nursing career. Make sure you have the following on hand for when you sign with a travel nursing agency:

  • Current nursing license and specialty certifications
  • Immunization records
  • List of references with contact information
  • Professional resume highlighting your skills and strengths

Having these important pieces of information ready makes it easier to prepare for phone interviews with potential employers, because you can focus more on questions you want to ask and on understanding policies and schedules.

2. Keep an Open Mind and Remain Flexible

In addition to excellent planning ability, you must also have a certain amount of flexibility. Ultimately, a travel nursing career can allow you to tailor your career to your desire to travel, or to your family’s needs, but especially at first, you must be prepared to be flexible and accept assignments with an open mind.

3. Learn How to Pack Strategically for Assignments

Don’t expect to pack perfectly the first time. Strive to pack light, yet know what your “essentials” are, whether that’s family photos, a personal journal, or a special throw or bed pillow. Travel nursing agencies will inform you about what is available in any housing they provide. Over time you will learn what really is necessary and what you can leave at home.

4. Understand Pay Rates and Other Benefits Before Accepting an Assignment

An outstanding travel nursing agency welcomes questions, so don’t be shy inquiring about benefits, base salary, canceled shift policies, shift differentials, and other pertinent information. Determine whether benefits like health insurance are offered, and if so, what percentage of the premiums you’ll be responsible for.

male%20nurse%20with%20little%20girl 600x - 7 Helpful Pieces of Advice for New Travel NursesThe right travel nursing agency is happy to answer your questions. 

5. Allow Yourself Plenty of Time to Prepare for Your First Shift

Generally, it’s better to show up more than one day before your start date. If you can allow a few days to settle in, rent a car (if necessary), learn your commute time, and stock up on food and household items, your first day on the job will be far less stressful. Knowing your neighborhood, including things like where the local supermarket is, can also minimize stress.

6. Realize that Getting Accustomed to Travel Nursing Takes Time

Travel nursing isn’t for every nurse, and those who are well-suited for this path may not realize it at first. Once you learn to pack well, save receipts, and take care of the details, you’ll be able to evaluate travel nursing as a career choice and determine if it is right for you. Many nurses choose travel nursing and can’t imagine doing it any other way.

7. Choose the Right Travel Nursing Agency

The importance of choosing an outstanding travel nursing agency cannot be overemphasized. Your agency should be large enough to offer you the opportunities you want, yet small enough to provide the attention you need, answer your questions, and generally have your back as you take on travel nursing assignments. The right travel nursing agency is ready to listen to you, answer your questions, and help you build a career that lets you shine and that provides the challenges and rewards you want.

Travel nursing offers many amazing opportunities. Not only can nurses pursue travel to places they may never have had the chance to go, travel nurses with families can schedule their assignments to mesh with school schedules, or a spouse’s schedule, offering flexibility and earning power. If you are interested in travel nursing, Travel Nursing Central invites you to fill out our sign-up form. It’s an important first step towards what could be an outstanding nursing career for you.

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Celebrate Travel Nurses Day 2017!

Calling all travel nurses: it's Travel Nurses Day this Friday, October 13th!

Calling all travel nurses: Travel Nurses Day is Friday, October 13th!

Everywhere you look, there are pumpkin spice lattes, leather boots, and a colorful pageant of vibrant leaves. It must be fall.

For travel nurses, the fall season also means a special holiday, Travel Nurses Day, is near. Created by Medical Solutions, Travel Nurses Day celebrates the hardworking spirit of travel nurses everywhere. This Friday, October 13th is your chance to treat yourself and celebrate your travel nursing career.

Over at Medical Solutions, they’ve started the festivities early. Starting today, you can play games, enter contests, listen to music, and win PRIZES all week long!

Here’s the delightful lineup for Travel Nurses’ Day 2017:

Contests and Games

  • A #NurseLaughLove Photo Contest on Instagram
  • Quizzes such as, “Where Should I Travel Next?” and “What’s Your Ultimate Source of Bliss?”
  • Two sets of fantastically fun Photofinds
  • Two sets of terrifically tremendous Travel Libs
  • A Find Your Bliss Playlist to keep you rocking through your special day

Prizes:

You can visit TravelNursesDay.com anytime starting now until midnight, central standard time on Oct. 15, 2017. Prize winners will be announced the following week.

Happy Travel Nurses Day to all you amazing travelers out there!

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The Case for Travel Nurse Recruiters

A great recruiter can be your friend and guide during your travel nurse journey.

A great recruiter can be your friend and guide during your travel nurse journey.

Travel nurses and their recruiters are a dynamic duo in the healthcare staffing industry. Like peanut butter and jelly or mac and cheese, one without the other is unthinkable. That is, until now.

Nomad Health, a site that directly connects freelance doctors to healthcare systems without a middleman, recently expanded their services to travel nurses as well.

Before you jump on the recruiter-free bandwagon, you should carefully consider all the advantages you have with a recruiter on your side:

Pay: According to Nomad’s website, travel nurses will automatically earn more money since medical facilities are saving on recruiter fees. Taken at face value, this statement seems to make sense. However, you should keep in mind that no two bill rates are the same, so there’s really nothing “automatic” about better pay. In fact, in some cases, a recruiter can actually help you advocate for a better compensation package.

Jobs: Without recruiters, Nomad claims you can find job opportunities on your own terms. While that certainly sounds liberating, it’s simply not true. As a travel nurse, you don’t have to take any job you don’t want. Likewise, a great recruiter is your partner in your job search, and that means he or she can help you land your dream job. Your recruiter knows what hospitals are looking for in a candidate, so he or she can offer you sound career advice when needed. Plus, as an industry insider, your recruiter may know of jobs that haven’t even been advertised yet.

Safety Net: Besides job opportunities and pay, travel nurses also need to consider their safety while on assignment. In an ideal world, your travel nursing assignment would go off without a hitch, but that’s unfortunately not always the case. Just look at Travel Nursing Central’s Sticky Situations Q&A section! Your recruiter is your friend and safety net when something unexpected happens to you while on assignment. When you think of the alternative, who would you call? The Ghostbusters?

So, while it’s tempting to ditch your recruiter, this model probably wouldn’t add up to an overall amazing travel nursing experience. A recruiter offers you several advantages including industry knowledge, career advice, and a helpful ear should something unexpected happen.

What do you think? Is a recruiter-free agency appealing or do you plan to stick with your recruiter? Let us know in the comments below!

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