If you’re considering a career in travel nursing, you’ll need to sign up with a travel nursing agency. Travel nursing agencies aren’t the same as permanent or temporary nurse/medical staffing agencies — a staffing agency is primarily an employment broker that connects job seekers with potential employers. Once a nurse is hired by an employer, the agency’s job is done and the agency-nurse relationship ceases.
A travel nursing agency, on the other hand, is intimately involved with the nurse throughout the entire working relationship, which can span months or years and involve many assignments across various states and licensing requirements. The travel nursing agency is so much more than a job placement service; it is a nurse’s employer, travel agent, housing coordinator, professional development counselor, personal advocate, all-around problem-solver, and when needed, shoulder to cry on.
So it stands to reason that the nurse’s relationship with a travel nursing agency can make or break a successful assignment — and even an entire career. Here are some essential things to look for before you sign up with an agency.
- Respect — The foundation of any professional and personal relationship, respect from your agency and the people you work with should be a given. Primarily your recruiter but also everyone in the organization you come in contact with should acknowledge by word and deed the value you bring to the company. The job of a travel nurse is challenging by definition, and your skills and experience are the company’s face to their clients.
- Communication — Every good relationship thrives on clear and concise communication, and that’s particularly critical in travel nursing, where you’re away from home in a distant, unfamiliar location. The nature of the assignment should be clearly and thoroughly explained before you accept the posting, and any changes in job scope or work issues should be resolved promptly.
- Support — Know before you go: if a problem should arise after the nursing office closes, no matter what time or time zone, can you call the company and expect an immediate, knowledgeable response? The agency should consider your needs first and foremost — not at its own convenience and have the resources you need available whenever you need them.
- Resources — Wherever you are, you’ll be expected to keep up with continuing education and licensing requirements. At a minimum, your agency should keep track of your CEUs and help you keep up to date, and some agencies even offer CEU programs of their own. And professional feedback is essential: during and after each assignment, a follow-up conversation letting you know how you did and pointing out areas for possible improvement will prepare you for success on your next assignment.
- Honesty — It shouldn’t be necessary to list this, but honesty counts. Your recruiter should be frank about the pros and cons of any assignment so you’ll be prepared and ready for whatever may come up on the job. If you can’t trust your recruiter, whom can you trust?
- Personal Relationships — Speaking of trust, the relationships you develop with your recruiter, chief nurse executive, nurse manager, and clinical liaison are your professional umbilical cord. These people understand the challenges, highs, and lows of travel nursing like no one else can, and your needs and concerns should always be their top priority.
Questions? We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about a travel nursing career with Freedom Healthcare. Call us at 866-463-0385 for more information about becoming a Freedom Healthcare travel nurse.