Researching travel nurse staffing companies

As a travel nurse who’s had some great and some not so great assignments, I know just how important it is to research and select the best travel nursing staffing agency before accepting an assignment.   If you wait to do this until after you’ve accepted the assignment, you may be in for some unpleasant surprises.   A good way to get started is to search for reviews of the agency you are considering.  Some of the best travel nurse staffing companies make this easy for you by making all their reviews publicly available in one place.     However, to get the full picture, you need to to look at many sources of information.   An excellent research method is to ask fellow travel nurses for their opinions of specific travel nurse companies on forums and social media sites where they congregate.   Here are few suggested resources to get you started:

My favorite travel nursing assignment destination

Of all the places I had the chance to visit and explore, San Diego, “America’s Finest City” really won me over.  I took 2 assignments in San Diego and I would go back in a heartbeat!  There is so much to do for those who enjoy the outdoors, which I do.  The weather is always nice and I found myself on the coast and at the beach whenever possible.  Here is a picture I took at Point Loma, which is an amazing place for tide pooling.

Point Loma tide pools and coastline.

Another place near and dear to my heart is Torrey Pines, which is in North County San Diego.  There is a great state beach and nature preserve there and of course The Lodge at Torrey Pines sports a world famous golf course and 5 star resort.  The restaurant at The Lodge is called A.R. Valentien and may be the best I’ve ever experienced.  If you ever have the opportunity to visit don’t miss this place.  Here is a link to The Lodge  and here is a picture I took of a sunset from the beach at Torrey Pines:

Torrey Pines sunset

One of the most amazing things about living in San Diego is that there is beach, ocean, mountains, snow skiing, desert, Mexico, and a large cosmopolitan city all within easy access.  There were days I actually skied at Big Bear and went to beach at Torrey pines on the same day. Oh San Diego, how I miss you!

I found my way back, a little older and a lot smarter travel nurse now.

Hello World, I’m back!  It has been a long time since I wrote last.  I have been on close to 15 travel nursing assignments since I last wrote.  I also took nearly a year off to care for my sick mother.  But, now I am back and hope to stick with this blog this time around.  I learned a lot about the travel nursing world.  I learned how to be a better negotiator, the importance of the first 2 weeks of an assignment, the importance of staying out of the politics on the floor, how to prepare well for a move, how to travel light, and basically how to make the best of a great profession.  I have been to 6 states I never thought I’d visit and have met some amazing people.  I will do my best to recount some of the more interesting personal and professional experiences I’ve had in this line of work and to share some resources I found helpful along the way.  My life has calmed down a lot and I am working an assignment back in Arizona now, quite close to home.  Travel nursing has slowed some it seems in the past few years with the recession but thankfully, I got some great experience under my belt which I think has kept me in assignments – thank goodness.  Here are some of the web resources that have helped me transition from assignment to assignment and from place to place.  I hope they can serve to help you, too.

U-Haul – Rent a moving truck or trailer to get to and from your assignment.

Fuel Cost Calculator – This is a handy site to help budget for your gas if you are driving to your assignment.

NursingAgencies.us – Shopping for an agency?  This is the most complete list I’ve found online.

Frommer’s Guide – Use this guide to research travel assignment destinations and points of interest.

Travelocity – I always use this site to book discounted hotel rooms, flights and rental cars.

Apartment Finder – Your housing can make all the difference. Be sure to research your housing options.

Nursing-Directory.org – This directory is focused on nursing and has a lot of good information.

Yelp – This is a great site with reviews of local restaurants, bars and other businesses.

American Nurse’s Association – Nursing career resource for professional development.

Why it is important to find a TRUTHFUL travel nurse agency

I can’t believe what I am having to deal with right now.  My agency guaranteed that I would be working day shift only.  Last week, I was informed by my manager that I would need to fill in on some nights.  I DO NOT like working nights and would not have agreed to do so.  Guess what, my manager tells me that my agency KNEW I may well have to fill in on ANY OTHER SHIFT and they did not inform me.  This is really ridiculous.  When I work nights I sleep all day and can’t do anything.  When confronted, my  recruiter said she didn’t know at first, but later said she did know and was told it would be very unlikely.  I have a bad taste in my mouth and am not sure I’ll finish this assignment if they can’t get me back on straight days.  I may need to start shopping agencies again..

I am loving it! California that is..

Well, I have been here in SoCal for 2 weeks now and I think I have found paradise on Earth.  There is so much to see and do and it is so beautiful that I am a little overwhelmed.  I have spent every day I have off of work at the beach and cruising the coast on highway 1, or “the 1” as they call it here.  I have found some great spots to eat and a couple neat beach side bars, too.  The assignment, has gotten off to a decent start.  Although it was rocky at first, things seem to be coming together.  There was some “confusion” between the hospital and my agency when scheduling my orientation.  I showed up and no one knew I was coming, who I was or what to do with me.  Seems I was given a date 3 days prior to the actual orientation date.  Oh well, that gave me some time to explore.  Then, the “orientation” I got was kind of a joke.  Lots of paperwork and CYA stuff from the facility and little in the way of teaching me their charting system, showing me around and making introductions.  The Unit Manager seems to be good and has been great during the last week orienting me to the unit and their procedures.  The staff nurses seem distant and a couple seem to have a problem with travel nurses.  One asked me what my pay rate is, I was shocked.  Talk about an awkward moment.  Anyway, the agency did well with my housing and I got my first paycheck right on time.  So, this will be fine for another 2.5 months and I am really loving the area.  Maybe I’ll try for another assignment in SoCal, maybe San Diego or even Santa Barbara.  I think travel nursing is going to be a good match for me!

I’ve been listed in the ajooja travel nursing directory!

I think I’m going to enjoy this blog thing.  I just have to find more time to write!  Today, I discovered that I’m listed in the ajooja directory under travel nursing.

Thanks guys!

New Assignment in Sunny SoCal!

I just got a new travel assignment in sunny Southern California!  I will be living near Laguna Beach and I am sooo excited.  I am also traveling with a new company, one of the big ones out of CA.  I think they will be good for me because they are based in the area and probably will know more about housing in the area and hopefully can help guide me some, too.  The unit I will be working in is not my favorite (Telemetry) but I think it will be fine for 3 months and the pay is really good.  I will be away from home for Thanksgiving this year, so that will be a little strange, but I can’t wait to see the coast, lie on the beach, and try out California restaurants and night life.  I leave in 3 days and have so much to do.  No time for California Dreamin’.  It’s soon going to be a reality!

Nurse TV portrayals

Time and time again I see the stereotypical “sexy nurse” portrayals on television and it really makes me mad.  Does anyone else think that nurse TV portrayals are just out of line? I mean, would society accept a sexualized and marginalized portrayal of doctors on TV?

It’s getting ridiculous!

Choosing a travel nursing agency

Choosing the right travel nursing agency isn’t always easy, but it is a very, very important decision for the travel nurse. There are a lot of agencies out there, and they are definitely not all created equal.  Some of the “mom-and-pop” agencies offer great rates because they have lower overhead but the trade off is usually that they have fewer assignments to choose from, may not have assignments in “choice” areas or facilities and, since they’re small the risk of tem going out of business and leaving their nurses unpaid is a real concern.  I know this may sound crazy but I have heard many stories about agencies closing their doors and leaving their staff without paychecks.  The larger agencies have a reputation for being less service oriented and treating their nurses “like a number”.  I think this may be true of some of the larger agencies but not all of them.  What is important is that you do your research, ask the recruiter lots of questions and get everything in writing.  Do some research and determine what you’ll need going in to the contract negotiation.  Do you need housing provided? What about the bills, who will pay?  Do you need relocation assistance? Will you need to obtain a new license?  What will that cost and can the agency reimburse?  Do you need health insurance? 401k? etc, etc, etc.  Of course, the more you need provided to you for your assignment, the lower your hourly pay rate will be.  Again, do your home work, shop round, ask questions, get it all in writing, and make sure you are dealing with an agency you feel good about and with a recruiter you trust.

Me, a Travel nurse?

I didn’t ever think I’d become a travel nurse. I didn’t like the travel nurses I knew (okay, it’s not that I didn’t like them, but I was weirdly suspicious and maybe a bit jealous of them) and felt like it was too much of a “freewheeling” lifestyle. But I’ve since become a travel nurse myself and realize that many of the previous ideas I had were silly and unfounded and that the benefits of traveling can certainly outweigh the drawbacks  Of course, it’s not for everyone. Some will certainly not like having to move, say from Arizona to California for a nursing job. But for others it represent true freedom and the opportunity to see new places, learn new things, meet new people and generally LIVE LIFE more on my terms.

I can’t think of how to explain that well just now, but other travel nurses may be able to relate.

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