7 Questions to Ask Before Accepting Your Next Travel Nursing Assignment
If you want to serve the people and explore the world, travel nursing is the most exciting career for you. However, to make sure this excitement doesn’t turn into stress you must pick the right assignments. And by the right assignments, we mean the projects that align with your expectations and expertise.
But to know whether the proposed opportunity is right for you or not, you need to put forth the right questions that address your concerns and helps you filter out the right opportunities. Here we list down 7 such important travel nursing questions that you must discuss with your staffing agent before signing off on that contract.
1. How Many Hours Do I Need to Work and What Will be the Scheduling?
Before proceeding with any assignment, you must question the number of working hours. It can vary from daily, weekly to monthly. In most cases, your pay will directly depend upon the number of hours you work. Thus, you must enquire this while enquiring about the assignment.
In addition to working hours, also ask about the scheduling of these hours. Some facilities may require you to work in nightshifts, weekends whereas others may prefer to call their permanent nurses in these situations.
Also, gauge their responses while asking these questions. It will help you understand their flexibility in changing the schedules if required.
2. Will I Be Asked to Float?
For first time nurses, this might be a new thing. But for experienced ones, it is already a point of concern.
Many healthcare facilities do ask their nurses to float to different units as and when the need arises. Floating is a common practice in normal healthcare settings but as travel nurses, you need to clarify the scope of floating beforehand.
If you are being asked to float to units that do not match your expertise and skills, then you must immediately raise the alarm and discuss it with the hiring agency. Having clarity on your scope of work is important to prevent any hassles during the assignment.
For example, as a MedSurg RN, you don’t want to handle a ton of trach patients if you haven’t ever seen trachs.
3. What is the Nurse-to-Patient Ratio?
Nurse burnout is common knowledge in the healthcare industry. However, being a travel nurse gives you the leverage to accept or reject this workload before taking up the assignment.
Avoid picking projects that could take a toll on your mental health. For this, ask about the nurse-to-patient ratio in advance and understand the feasibility of the work. In most cases, you will be asked to handle multiple units and patients. But if the requirement borders on burnout, then take a step back and clear your expectations. It’s important to keep the hospital expectations and your patient handling capacity in sync before saying yes to any assignment.
Read More: Get Started with Your Travel Nursing Career
4. Can I Work Overtime? What Will Be the Pay Benefits?
If you are planning to earn some extra bucks apart from the regular pay, then don’t forget to ask this question. Even if you’re not planning on doing extra time, chances are you might be asked to work extra hours in case of health emergencies.
In a few cases, healthcare agencies may offer you compensatory leaves in exchange for extra work hours.
Also, enquire about the frequency of overtime shifts demanded by the hospitals. For instance, if every alternate or third day, nurses are asked to work overtime shifts, then you might want to rethink. It’s always good to enquire about overtime frequency, benefits, and compensations in advance to eliminate any unnecessary hassle afterward.
5. Will I Be Provided a Housing Accommodation or Compensation for the Same?
It might not top your list but is a thing that should be clarified before taking up the assignment. As you will be staying in the new city, state, or country, you need to know beforehand about your housing setup.
Start by asking whether the staffing agency is providing housing accommodation. If yes, then know the distance from your workplace. Ensure the accommodation is as close as possible. Ideally, it shouldn’t be more than a 30-minute commute. If the agency doesn’t offer the housing, ask for housing compensation so that you can look for housing on your own. You must thoroughly research the housing in the area before signing up for the assignment.
In most cases, either of the above two options should be offered to ensure your comfort. However, if it’s not the case with your agency, then it’s time to reevaluate the proposal.
6. What Is the Provision for Paid Time Off and Holidays?
Even if you are working on a contractual basis, you are entitled to paid leaves. However, depending on the location of employment, your holidays might vary. This is why you must not assume and instead gather all the information about the holidays and paid leaves in advance to eliminate any hidden information that may affect you in the future.
If there are a few leaves that you can’t compromise with, for instance, your parent’s anniversary, an upcoming wedding, or your child’s birthday, then you must convey the same in advance to eliminate any chaos afterward.
7. Do You Extend Nursing Contracts?
Typical travel nursing contracts are for 13 weeks. However, healthcare staffing agencies do extend nursing contracts majority of the time.
These extensions generally depend on the performance of the nurses as well as the requirement at the work. A lot of time travel nurses voluntarily opt for extensions and other times it is generated out of necessity.
Hence, to keep your options open, you should enquire about the voluntary extensions. If you have multiple travel nursing assignments lined up, then communicate the same in advance to avoid any chances of extension post-contract.
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