Becoming a travel nurse is one of the most fulfilling career decisions I have ever made. Nursing itself was actually my second career after I spent 10 years in corporate America. Upon earning my degree in nursing, I went to work at the same hospital where I did my clinicals.
As I gained experience and spent time on different units, I met nurses who traveled, and I admired their experience and flexibility. A couple of co-workers connected me with their recruiters, and I decided to give it a try.
Getting into travel nursing wasn’t easy, especially because so many staffing firms make you feel more like a number than a person. But there are firms that take the right approach. Here’s what staffing firms should know when trying to attract and place workers like me — and what beginning travel nurses should know about getting started in the field.
We’ll move on. When I first got started, it took a few tries for me to find the right recruiter and firm. I understand that most staffing firms are working to balance the needs of both their employer clients and travel nurses — but sometimes, that balance can tip a little too far away from the talent. There are also a lot of staffing firms out there, so it’s important for recruiters to understand that if travel nurses don’t feel valued, they will move on.
Individualized attention wins. I ultimately chose to work with Prime Surgical Associates, a division of Next Move Healthcare, because they were local to my area. They’re also a small business. As an entrepreneur, in addition to being a nurse, I wanted to support a fellow small business owner.
But perhaps the biggest factor in my decision was that my interactions with its founder — Ty Taylor, a longtime surgical first assistant — made me feel like I would receive more individualized attention. Bigger staffing companies can often make you feel lost in the shuffle. However, PSA’s recruiters are very connected with travelers. I have rarely had to contact my recruiter because my placements have gone so smoothly. But if I ever need to do so, they are extremely responsive and do everything in their power to help me if there are complications with an assignment.
This personalization is critical. Don’t treat your travelers like commodities; build relationships with them and make sure they know they can depend on you.
Do your homework and share your notes. One of the hardest parts of being a travel nurse is getting acclimated to the new facility. It’s important to make sure that the placement is a good fit and that you’re not setting your travelers up for failure. I’ve seen new travel nurses take a job thinking they’re going to be doing one thing — but then get assigned duties they have no experience with, which endangers patients and makes for a frustrating experience all around.
Giving travelers as much knowledge as they can ahead of time is something my staffing provider does really well. PSA works closely with employer partners to understand what exactly the job requires and gives us travelers a good sense of what we’re walking into. Healthcare recruiters should follow their example: Learn all you can about placements and share that knowledge ahead of time to give your travelers the tools they need to succeed.
If you’re on the other side of the fence and considering a career in travel nursing, know that it’s never too late to start. If you don’t mind change and want to expand your knowledge, go for it! Just be sure to find a staffing partner like PSA that will support you every step of the way and remember it’s imperative to be flexible and teachable.
I love working with the people at PSA because they make me feel like a person, not a number. They take the time to learn what I’m looking for, really understand the jobs they place me in and stay communicative throughout every assignment. PSA is part of the reason I have never had a moment of regret about changing careers.