Content courtesy of Ascension Talent Acquisition Travel Recruitment Team
By nature, travel nurses have an adventurous, spontaneous spirit and like to take on new challenges.
Now more than ever, while we are all staying home, nurses are being called to take on new assignments across the U.S. — bravely joining the front-line fight against COVID-19.
The World Health Organization and the American Nurses Association named 2020 the “Year of the Nurse.” And what a year it was! One way COVID-19 affected nursing in 2020 and will continue to do so in 2021 is the unique opportunity it created for caregivers to support each other through innovative travel programs.
When researching and interviewing for a new travel assignment, here are a few questions to ask the recruiter to help guide you in choosing the best travel opportunity for you.
1. Continuing Education
Does the agency/organization pay for continuing education units (CEUs)? CEUs are sometimes available to nurses at no cost. Many of these opportunities are even being offered as on-demand or live streamed events, which allow you to view them at almost anytime, anywhere.
2. Supportive Clinical Leadership
Will the agency/organization provide the same level of support to the travel nurse as they would a permanent associate? Do they offer the opportunity to connect with other travelers and/or other clinical support before and during an assignment? These questions are worth exploring during the hiring interview (if offered). It’s a great opportunity to get a feel for how the agency/organization works with and develops their travelers.
3. Tuition Assistance Opportunities
Does the agency/organization offer tuition assistance or reimbursement? And if so, what does it entail? Some agencies/organizations will even pay for the state RN license for the state to which you will travel on your next assignment.
4. Housing and Travel Assistance
What will your housing accommodations include? It’s important to ask this question up front so you can begin planning and make sure you have plenty of time to secure accommodations, if needed. Most agencies/organizations have lodging partnerships around assignment areas, and others even own their own apartment complexes. In addition to housing, what else does the agency/organization offer to assist you with your travels? This could include a stipend, access to a travel coordinator or additional partnerships with airlines and/or car rental companies.
5. Security of Travel Assignments
Does the agency/organization offer continuous assignments? If so, who coordinates your next assignment? The answers to these questions may influence which travel opportunity is the best fit for your career and life.
Consider whether or not you are interested in taking one assignment every few months with various organizations like an agency, or if you are looking for steady assignments with the same organization in which you are traveling between locations.
Remaining with the same organization and traveling internally provides you with the ability to attain tenure and removes the worry of lining up a new assignment midway through your current one. Understanding how the agency/organization coordinates assignments will help you decide which opportunity is right for you.
6. Benefits and Support During Sickness
What benefits does the agency/organization have to offer? Would you need to sign up for benefits through a third party with an agency, or do you receive the same benefits as a permanent associate in the healthcare organization? Does the agency/organization offer paid time off or sick days for travelers? Benefits can also be a deciding factor when considering a travel assignment. Be sure to consider benefits when assessing the given pay rate as part of the full package when comparing agencies/organizations.
7. Work-Life Balance and Wellness Programs
Does the agency/organization offer work-life balance? Given the length of most travel assignments, some travelers might not consider work-life balance within their career. To avoid burnout, some agencies/organizations offer well-being programs and resources to help you grow, develop, and flourish personally and professionally.
8. Career Growth
Does the agency/organization offer career growth opportunities? This question may be geared more towards working with an organization over an agency. Traveling in-house allows for additional career growth and development, as well as the ability to tenure within the organization. Maybe you find a location you absolutely love and want to settle down in a permanent position. With a healthcare organization, you will be able to keep your travel tenure, and if a permanent opportunity is available, smoothly transition into the new position. Organizations may also offer internal growth programs, career coaches, and resources to help you further develop your skill set and explore new career opportunities that you might not realize are available to you.
9. Value Alignment
Does the agency/organization align with your individual values? A few core values as a nurse include compassion, integrity, collaboration, and innovation. Are the values you hold most dear reflected in the agency/organization you are considering? Maybe you are interested in exploring nonprofit healthcare organizations that align with serving the local communities and providing care to all. Research the company culture and choose the assignment that aligns with your values.
10. Referral Program
Do you know other travel nurses who might be interested in a new travel opportunity? Some agencies/organizations offer referral incentives if you refer another traveler. When onboarding, make sure to ask the recruiter what kind of referral incentives are available.
Nurses have always answered the call to serve, and this year has definitely shown how essential nurses truly are. Now more than ever, travel nurses are stepping in and helping where they are needed most. Agencies and organizations are providing innovative travel opportunities to help nurses safely provide care across the country.
At Ascension, we recently announced the launch of our Associate Travel Program. This has evolved from a temporary pandemic response to becoming a permanent program and part of the fabric of who we are. Travel associates enjoy the flexibility of serving in various locations while growing and flourishing personally and professionally at Ascension. Our nurses are more than 50,000 strong, serving in over 2,600 sites of care and 145 hospitals across 19 states and Washington, D.C.
Discover what it means to be a part of the travel network at Ascension.