8 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became a Travel Nurse

Guest article from TGN by Kayla Reynolds

One of the great things about travel nursing is the variety of experiences for those who choose this path.  As an ICU travel nurse for the past  5+ years, I’ve learned a lot through trial and error.  If you are interested in becoming a “Gypsy” or are new to travel nursing, there are 8 things I wish I know before I became a travel nurse that I hope helps you in your journey.

Trust your gut!

I had a pretty lucrative contract in CA, but I sold my soul for it. It was a pretty rough assignment using the most outdated charting system and floated from one end of that hospital to another. Yes, I got paid well, but I certainly worked for it. My gut was right when it said, “this is too good to be true.” If you feel after an interview uneasy about anything, ask more questions, and don’t be afraid to pass on it.

Have A Safety Net!

Traveling is a risky business, and it may sound like a no-brainer but do not start traveling without some savings. You have to be ready for the unexpected, like when your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere or a contract gets canceled. You may have to live without working for a few weeks. SO, be prepared for it.

Educate yourself on taxes regarding travel nursing and what is meant by maintaining a tax home.

I spent hours researching articles related to travel nursing and taxes before becoming a travel nurse. This can be very complicated.

Read your contract!

You have to go over your contract with a fine-toothed comb. Ensure you understand everything in your contract and that it includes all the things you have asked for. Some of the top things I make sure is in my contract are pay rates for the first 36 hours, hours from 36-40, and hours from 40+ (the exception is California), requested days off, cancellation policy or guaranteed hours, canceled contract policy, travel and any other reimbursements, per diems, shift times, the specific unit I will be working, and floating policy. Make sure you understand things like non-compete clauses in your contract or any other terms you agree to.

 Before starting to apply to companies have all your documents ready.

This will include a resume, certifications, copy of your diploma, vaccination records, copy of your identification card, nursing licenses, and references. Also, every company will request that you do a skills checklist before being submitted to hospitals.

Travel nursing can be uncomfortable at times.

If you were to meet me now you would probably never guess I was not the most social and certainly not as confident as I am today. That I owe to travel nursing pushing me out of my comfort zone. I have learned to go at it on my own and not wait for anyone to tag along with me to have an adventure. I like to call it dating myself or solo explorations.

Learn from the experienced travel nurses.

All of us have made mistakes going in but if you know before you start what to look out for this may save you a lot of heartache.

Be ready for whatever is thrown your way.

Finally, your reaction to situations will make or break your travel nursing career. You can choose to throw in the towel or you can handle it. Travel nursing will test your limits sometimes but you have the power to run it or let it run you.

I hope you found these tips to be helpful. One of the keys to being a successful Gypsy nurse is the willingness to help your colleagues. Feel free to let me know if they do by leaving a comment here.

Want to share your own travel nursing tips with fellow Gypsies?  Leave a comment here or (for the budding travel nursing writers out there!) email content@thegypsynurse.com with your ideas and we may be able to turn it into an article and share it with the thousands of Gypsies in our network!

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10 Great Travel Safety Tips for Travel Nurses

Safety is of great concern to travel nurses. Here are 10 Great Travel Safety Tips.

Please note that this list is not all-inclusive. Most generally, if you exercise common sense and use your gut feelings, you will be fine. The biggest thing that I will stress is that if you feel unsafe, leave the unsafe location immediately. Always be aware of your travel safety.

Here are some tips that I try to follow to stay safe:

-Plan your stops in town vs rest areas.

Avoid places without vehicles or people around. We prefer truck stops as they are usually well-lit and active—Park close to the door and, if after dark, in a well-lit area.

-Have some sort of Emergency Assistance

AAA is a great resource. If the car breaks down or gets a flat, stay in the car until the tow truck (well-marked with AAA) arrives. AAA will generally ask if you feel safe. If you do not feel safe telling them and they will usually send a police officer to you.

-Give A Friend or Family Member your Itinerary and check-in.

I give a basic itinerary (route) and call to check in when leaving and arriving.

At your assignment location, drive around and orient yourself during the day.

Scout out grocery stores, the hospital, and other things you need to visit while it is daylight, so you don’t have to be wandering around in the dark looking for them.

Select your Hotel with Safety in mind.

I suggest using a hotel with rooms on the inside, i.e. no door straight out to the parking lot

Choose the 2nd Floor

Always ask for a hotel room on the upper floor (2nd or higher), as ground floor rooms are the most vandalized. This is a good tip for any temporary housing as well.

Never travel without at least two sources of money available.

In addition to whatever cash you have on hand. Periodically you might find that your bank thinks your debit or credit card is being used suspiciously (has happened to me) and freeze it on you without warning. Don’t store these all in one place.

Secure any belongings that stay in your vehicle overnight.

Don’t leave anything obviously open to be viewed from the windows.

-Always park in a well-lit area.

If I am able to park in a location that can be viewed from the front desk all the better.

Check the new neighborhood:

http://www.cityrating.com/crime-statistics/ or http://www.crimemapping.com

Do you have additional tips to add to these Top 10 Travel Safety Tips? Please post them in the comments.

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10 Tips to Help Travel Nurses De-Stress

If you’ve chosen to journey across the country as a travel nurse, you’ve 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’s important to take care of your health and avoid Travel Nurse Burnout. Everyone will appreciate you more if you are in a fair, optimistic mood.

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

10 ways to de-stress

Play 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.

Disconnect

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

Laugh

Anything that makes you chuckle will work, a joke, funny video, hilarious memory, 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 endorphin that is released by your brain.”

Take a walk

Moving your body or any exercise that you enjoy stimulates blood flow. Helping to de-stress. Staying active regularly helps keep you fit and better prepared to handle stressful situations.

Breathe

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. In fact, just taking a few deep breaths can reduce tension and de-stress. The extra boost of oxygen nourishes the brain and can lower blood pressure.

Sniff

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

Plan

De-stressing takes time and planning. No doubt you will have jam-packed days and challenging to-do lists to keep stress at bay and build time between commitments. Don’t schedule every minute to avoid rushing and fear of being late—real stressors!

Eat like a monkey

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

Eat

Good nutrition continuously helps keep you healthy, but a treat from time to time in small portions can also 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.

Rest

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.

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Tips for Making Friends in Your New City

So you are on your latest adventure as a travel nurse…you landed the ideal job in your dream city, packed up, and settled in. Now what? All of a sudden, you have some time on your hands and no one to share it with, nowhere to really go, and you’re feeling a little lonely. It’s perfectly normal to go through this type of adjustment stage as a travel nurse. And, with the stressful demands of your job, sometimes it’s better to keep a more moderate schedule. However, that doesn’t mean living like a hermit. Socializing is very important for everyone’s mental and emotional health. To keep nursing and life balanced, you should stay connected with people, feel needed and appreciated outside of work, and look for opportunities to meet new people that can add richness to your life.

Here are a few ways you can meet and win new friends while on a travel nurse assignment. They may not all be right for your particular personality, but keep an open mind and be sure to give some a fair try. Here’s hoping you are on the road to popularity very soon.

Be approachable at work

Clearly, you don’t want to limit all your friends to co-workers because that would leave very little variety to your day. However, it is a good place to start. Grab lunch or take a walk with others in your department. You will learn quickly who is a good fit, then perhaps it can grow into some after-work get-togethers.

Maintain

Once you have done a great job meeting new people and have formed a few friendships, you have to keep them going. Any relationship takes some effort. Try to schedule regular “dates” or activities. Go for coffee, have a monthly movie night, commit to trying a new restaurant regularly, or even have a “call date’ to chat. In a world of instant technology and texting, it is still imperative to have live conversations for a relationship to last.

The fitness factor

Join a gym or sign-up for a class. Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, and other fitness classes are all popular ways to get exposed to a group of diverse people. These also provide flexible commitment on your part. You set your time at the gym and usually roam away from a conversation if it’s not working for you. Classes have set time limits, so you know there is a little time at the start and finish if you want to pursue a new friend further.

Start a club

Once you have a few people that seem to fit well with your personality, it can be very helpful to engage on a regular basis to help those relationships grow. Host a book club, regular dinner potluck, or even a wine and cheese tasting to bring people together.

Open up

While it’s not advisable to download your entire life story at a first encounter, it is often helpful to share about yourself gradually to grow a relationship. Showing emotion and confiding in someone you trust can help bolster a casual friendship into something more valuable to both parties.

Network

One of the fastest ways to meet new people is through your existing friends. Ask if they know people in your new location. This can be an excellent source of new friendships because your current acquaintances know your personality and might be able to match you with those who share common interests.

Tread lightly on work talk

Most of your life may be currently consumed by your work and it is no doubt a proud part of your day, however, nursing may not be interesting to everyone. Share on a gradual basis and gauge reception from your audience. And, be sure never to share personal details about your patients, or information that can be linked to a specific person. Privacy and discretion should always be your top job despite how rousing the details may be.

High tech options

Social media is just as the name suggests, a place to foster socializing. It is a great place to look for new friends in your newest city.  Look for Meet-Ups, Facebook pages and groups, and apps that are designed to connect people with similar interests. Always use precautions to stay safe. Never give out personal information online, meet only in well light public places, inform someone about any meetings with location details, etc. 

 

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6 Steps to Becoming a Culturally Competent Nurse

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It’s important to be respectful of your patients’ cultural differences.

As a healthcare professional, you meet people from all different walks of life. Understanding your patients from a cultural standpoint can be a huge asset to your career. It’s especially important for traveling nurses to gain appreciation for the population they serve at their different assignments. In large cities, there can even be several subsets of cultures within the population your hospital serves.

So what’s a travel nurse supposed to do? Obviously, you can’t learn every single language out there or be an expert in all cultures, but you can prepare a culturally competent checklist for yourself when you encounter a patient with a different culture from your own. Below are six steps to becoming a culturally competent nurse:

  1. Communicate: Does this patient speak the same language as you? If not, find a hospital translator. Communication is obviously the first step in discovering your patient’s needs. As the translator is speaking with the patient, notice the patient’s nonverbal and verbal cues. Different cultures have different communication values.
  1. Determine Level of Comprehension: Does the patient understand you? Head nodding doesn’t always mean they “get it.” The patient might also be embarrassed to ask questions. So gently ask them to repeat what you told them in their own words. If the patient can’t, then you or a translator can re-explain a diagnosis or the situation at hand.
  1. Identify religious beliefs/sexual orientation: Religious beliefs can have a powerful effect on patients as they cope with serious illnesses or choose treatment options. As a nurse, you’ll want to be respectful of your patient’s religious views and discover what treatments your patient is willing to accept. For example, some religions choose the power of prayer over medical intervention. Likewise, it’s important to know your patient’s sexual orientation for similar reasons.
  1. Determine Level of Trust: It can be extremely hard to treat a patient without their trust. If they don’t trust you, they may withhold crucial health-related information. Earning a patient’s trust begins with effective communication. So, be open and honest when communicating with your patient, and use a translator when necessary.
  1. Discuss Dietary Habits: Just like religious views, dietary habits can be a cultural factor in the life of your patient. You’ll want to discuss these habits with your patient and respect their wishes as they recover from a procedure. Showing respect for their values will help increase their levels of comfort and trust with you as their healthcare provider.
  1. Recognize your own cultural biases: Everyone has their own biases and cultural attitudes, so it’s important to be aware of yours. As a nurse, you should not allow your own cultural views to interfere with the treatment of your patient. Not sure where you stand in the cultural spectrum as a nurse? Take Top RN to BSN’s quiz to find out.

As a travel nurse, has there ever been a time when you needed to be culturally sensitive while treating a patient? If so, what steps did you take to ensure you earned that patient’s trust?

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5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Travelers Conference 2016

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Travelers Conference 2016 is coming soon! Are you ready?

Whether you are new to the travel nursing industry or an expert in the field, there’s something for everyone at the Travelers Conference. Known as TravCon, this year’s weekend-long event, held September 25-27, promises to be the networking “Super Bowl” for traveling healthcare professionals. So that begs the question, are you ready for the 2016 TravCon in Las Vegas? Here are 5 tips for getting the most out of Travelers Conference 2016, so you can have a fun and productive weekend:

  1. Research: Before you even register or book your flight to Vegas, you should do your homework. Research which staffing agencies will be there, and determine which ones fit your criteria. You don’t want to waste your time at this conference talking to a recruiter whose company doesn’t fit your needs. Keep in mind what you are looking for in a potential employer, including the company’s reputation, benefits packages offered, traveling jobs available, and pay. Travel Nursing Central is a great place to start your research. Check out our agency rankings here.
  1. Connect: This event is a great opportunity for you to gain more insight into the traveling healthcare profession. Find the companies you researched as top performers, and introduce yourself to a recruiter. It’s usually helpful to put a face to a company. If you already have a great relationship with your staffing agency, this can also be a good time to introduce your travel nursing friends to your current recruiter. After all, this is how networking is done.
  1. Ask Questions: This seems obvious for a newbie traveler, but even a veteran traveler can learn new things by asking questions. It’s also important to ask the right questions. If you’re new to the industry, find out what it takes to be a successful traveling healthcare professional. If you’ve been around the block before, maybe now is the time to determine what you need to do to take your career to the next level. For the record, TravCon offers more than 25 sessions over the course of the weekend, and many qualify for CEU credits.
  1. Listen: Most people assume that networking is all about selling yourself as a potential employee to a company. You end up doing all of the talking, but learn practically nothing about the job or company. At the end of the day, networking is simply having a conversation. It’s important to remember that conversations are two-way streets. So, ask your burning questions, but then, really listen to the answer. Maybe a company you researched isn’t quite as great as it looked on paper, or perhaps a recruiter helped calm your fears about traveling with their agency.
  1. Follow Up: What happens at TravCon, shouldn’t always stay at TravCon. It’s always a good idea to follow up with the people you met. Whether it was a recruiter or just a new fellow travel nurse, you never know where these new connections will take you. In the age of social media, it’s also pretty easy to do. Connect with your new contacts on Facebook or LinkedIn and send a message. These relationships could be the start of a new career or friendship!

 With these 5 tips, you’ll be sure to get the most out of your 2016 TravCon experience.  To learn more about the conference, or to register for sessions, visit their website here.

For those travelers who have experienced TravCon before, do you have any other tips for what to expect during this conference? What worked and what didn’t?

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Strange State Laws

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Don’t Be This Guy: Here are some strange state laws to mind as you travel from state to state.

As a Travel Nurse you get the awesome opportunity to work while you explore the United States in all its glory. For the gorgeous beaches of Hawaii and California, to the delicious BBQ of Memphis and Kansas City, the serene lakes of Minnesota and Wisconsin to the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles and New York — and every awesome stop in between.

As you travel state to state for different assignments, you will likely discover different cultures, sayings, food trends, and all manner of differences from your home state.

But what about strange state laws?

Did you know that in North Carolina it is against the law to steal used kitchen grease?

How about that in Ohio it’s illegal to give fish alcohol?

Speaking of alcohol, did you know that in Texas you are only legally allowed to take three sips from your beer while you are standing?

To make extra sure you don’t accidentally break the law while traveling, check out this list of strange state laws compiled by Thrillist, which details the most irregular regulations in all 50 states.

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Travel Nursing 101: Hospital Interviews

Lady on Phone - Travel Nursing 101: Hospital InterviewsDoing a hospital interview for a travel nursing position can be a mixed bag, depending upon your mindset going into it. Most people get at least a little nervous going into such an interview, which is totally natural. But you want to also remember that the interview is not just for the hospital to decide if they want you, but also for you to determine if you would be happy working at that location. Here to help you is this Travel Nursing 101: Hospital Interviews.

Of course you are interested in the position, or you wouldn’t be interviewing for it, but you want to be very sure to ask a lot of questions so that you can get a really clear idea of the hospital’s strengths and weaknesses, qualities and quirks.

You will want to ask a lot of details about the hospital, including: safety and traffic in the area surrounding the facility, the size of the hospital and the unit you’d be working in, patient population, parking options, dress code, and more. Make sure to record the interviewer name and notice the type of rapport you have with them — this person is a representative of the hospital so you may be able to glean some information on the general climate of attitude based upon how he or she conducts the interview.

You will also want to ask about staffing and what will be expected and required of you, as well as what to expect from the work environment there. It’s always good to ask very specific questions to get exactly the information you want, but at the end of the interview, ask a more open-ended question, like: “Is there anything else you’d want a nurse to know about the facility or their role as temporary staff?” Doing this opens things up and you’ll be surprised by the good info you might get from this type of question.

Click here for our “Hospital Interview Questions for Travel Nurse” from our Travel Nurse Resource section, which includes several handy checklists for travel nurses. There are also a couple of helpful links, such as other travelers’ ranking of hospitals and a link to U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Hospitals rankings.

Good luck with your interview — we hope you find a hospital that is complementary to your skills and attitude!

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We made PMTs Best of Nursing Sites!

After reviewing hundreds of websites, Pacific Medical Training honored Travel Nursing Central with the “Best of Nursing Sites” Award. Our site was selected because it fulfilled a combination of the following:

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  • Appearance
  • Site Usability
  • Creativity

We’d like to thank Pacific Medical Training for honoring us with this great recognition and are happy to provide great content for travel nurses everywhere.

http://www.aclsrecertificationonline.com/nursing-sites.html

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