A simple blueprint you can steal and use STAT!
It’s a brand new year, and you’ve heard and seen all the coolness surrounding travel nursing.
Maybe you’ve finally decided to take the leap and have signed your first travel assignment. So the question is…”what now?” How do I prepare to actually hit the road, and more so, what do I do first!?
Rest easy, my young, nomadic friend…I’ve been at this for a bit (26 years), and I kinda feel like I’ve smoothed out the rough edges.
Like in our professional lives, we usually seek the most efficient way to deliver care. With that being said, each of us has figured out ways and methods that work for us. On that note, and as you read through this article, simply remember that this is a jumping-off point. A place to begin.
Things will move quickly, so know what you have to do
After you’re offered an assignment, the snowball effect kicks in. Not only will you suddenly have lots to do, but you’ll also find that things move fast.
At this stage, your recruiter or rep will be needing to make any arrangements for you. Things like housing, for instance. Other items may be random, but necessary paperwork, copies of licenses and certs, any specific ID’s and likely get you set up for test-taking.
Remember that each hospital and unit may have varying requirements, so be patient.
Here are some ways I’ve employed to streamline this process:
- Keep a separate “Travel Folder.” This can be a literal folder or the way I do it is an electronic one on my Mac. It helps because I can access them from my iPad, phone, or other devices even on the go.
- Take the time to read your contract. Sure, I know we’re not attorneys, but we can certainly understand if what we’re being promised is what’s being delivered. Chat it out with your agency or recruiter if something reads wrong or even feels wrong.
What questions should I be asking myself?
Right about now, the excitement is setting in, and it’s becoming more real. You may even feel a little nervous excitement.
But something to keep in mind is this.
What do you need to be doing to ensure my home is in order before I go?
Of course, this question will vary from person to person. Some folks don’t have a “regular” home. Others may be more concerned about pet care and the home for their furry friends while on the road.
But regardless of your housing status, here are some things I try to keep in mind at this stage of the game:
- The furry friends. If you have them, then the question is to take or not to take. While most folks will take Henry and Garfield, some may elect to travel solo. If you choose to leave them home, be sure to have safe and reliable caregivers for them. And on the flip side, if you take them, just make sure you share this with your recruiter. Especially if the agency is housing you.
- How are you planning to handle your mail?
- If you leave a residence behind, will a neighbor eyeball stuff for you? What about mail? After about 5-6 days, I know that my mailbox is STUFFED!
When you pack, remember that less is more
So now you have your contract ready, and paperwork is squared away. Then you have your housing good to go. It’s now time to consider what to actually pack!
While we each have our own method or system, one thing that is universal is that less is always more.
I’m so literal about this that I base what I pack and take what can fit in my trunk and backseat. That means no oversized, clunky items. And definitely no furniture. Another way to think about packing for a travel gig is to ask if you’ll really, indeed, be using the item.
Even if it’s as minor as a pair of jeans or cool shoes.
Less is more!
Take it from me; just because you THINK you’ll wear or use it doesn’t mean you actually will. And carrying that stuff around will get old pretty quick.
I remember my very first travel gig and how my car was not only loaded, but so was my roof rack, and I even shipped a few boxes. Big…big mistake. Now I keep it wicked simple and pop into a local grocery store or even Wal-Mart for easy and disposable items.
Here’s a quick hit list of things to consider taking with you:
- Pillows – I’m picky about these, and they gotta be just right. So yep, I pack my own pillows.
- Clothing – pack the basics for the season. Going to Texas in June? No need for an oversized jacket. Need clothes for work? Pack scrubs. Obviously. You’ll learn what you need to get by, but in the beginning, remember…less is more!
- Toiletries – Wal-Mart is my BFF here. I usually head there and grab stuff when I arrive, then dispose of unused when I wrap up the gig. Generally, I pack a small toiletry bag, and if it fits, it goes with me. If it doesn’t, then did I really need it?
- Laptop – my Mac is always with me. This is something I never go without, and not only is it an obvious way to stay connected, but it’s also a way to watch Netflix or stream TV.
- Meds and scripts – I’ve been traveling for so long that my doc writes my RX for 90 days at a time. Besides meds, consider reading glasses and prescription glasses, and don’t forget them!
The final word
So those are some preliminary things to think about. Don’t forget your car insurance card and check on how much fuel you will need if you’re driving.
You can never be too prepared, but packing the basics should get the job done first as you find your footing as a travel nurse.
To learn more about the travel nursing opportunity and cities across the country, visit Bestica Healthcare and start planning your next assignment today.
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