Travel nursing has always been a volatile market in comparison to permanent employment options. Jobs open and close, sometimes within minutes and there are so many different staffing companies who all have different positions, in different locations, and at different pay rates. It’s chaotic, overwhelming, and scary (especially when you’re experiencing it for the first time), but don’t let it stop you from taking the plunge!
The benefits of travel nursing in 2021 are big. With adequate preparation, navigating this environment is easier and will make you more successful. Here are some guidelines for setting yourself up for success as a travel nurse in a hot market:
Know your motivations.
Why do you want to be a travel nurse in the first place? What are you searching for? Common motivations for travelers fall into a few buckets; Which one are you in?
Identifying “why” behind your motivation to be a travel nurse is important to at first, expose, and then hold on to throughout your career. Having it as your “North Star” will ensure you make the right-for-you career path decisions quickly when you hit a fork in the road (and you will often as a traveler). Holding onto the “why” will also help you keep motivated when the going gets tough (and it will).
Find and hold onto your North Star.
Get & Stay Organized
Once you dip your toes into the travel healthcare world, things will move quickly. Get your ducks in a row or you’re going to miss the best opportunities. It’s no surprise that a contract you think is perfect is also catching the eye of other qualified candidates. The better the contract, the greater the competition. See below tips for how to get organized as a travel nurse and ensure you present yourself with your best foot forward:
Play it Safe
Lastly, don’t be reckless with your data. You’ll be encouraged by recruiters to quickly email or text your personal-sensitive info. Would you do that with patient data? So don’t do it with your own! Some agencies have a secure portal for uploading sensitive documents (ask for it), either way, your Kamana Profile is equipped with the power of encrypted sharing (and un-sharing) so you can protect your data while providing access to who you feel needs it.
Broaden your options. Realistically, no single recruiter or staffing agency can land you a contract in every city and always guarantee a higher paying contract than all their competitors. One recruiter does not have it all, you gotta work with a few (I suggest 5). It sounds overwhelming to maintain more than one recruiter relationship (and even unfaithful in a strange way) but you can do it tactfully and in a manner that respects your recruiter relationships and everyone’s time. Recruiters spend many hours finding and connecting nurses with facility needs. When you’re open about working with other agencies, organized with your documentation, and clear with your expectations – it will allow them (and you) to quickly identify if they have a match.
Get after it. You're entering the travel healthcare world for a reason (money, control, career advancement, adventure/exploring) so whatever the reason - make it your part time job to be the best traveler for you, and for your own success. Just like in the nursing practice there are so many resources out there to help us navigate, learn, and grow in this career path. Check out some of the best ones here.
Written by John Modica, RN
John Modica, RN and Kamana co-founder, has over a decade of experience in healthcare, spending the majority of his career working as a travel nurse in hospitals across the United States. Having seen first-hand the inefficiencies of the industry, he fully understands the frustrations and dissatisfaction held by the healthcare workforce. John is customer zero. Kamana is his solution.
TravCon is the one time a year where ALL healthcare travel professionals, recruiting companies, and niche-specific services that serve our community gather to network, make everlasting relationships, and educate one another. This year, TravCon will be held at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, NV on September 26-29th, 2021. Below is a list of everything you need to know before attending the conference of a LIFETIME!
Before You Go
Registration- Whether you are thinking about traveling, accepting your first assignment, or are a veteran traveler- TravCon is the place for you. But first, you’ll need to head over to www.travcon.org and pick between the four registration types. All registration types come with CEU credits.
Book your Flight- Las Vegas is one of the most accessible airports in the United States. Wherever you are on assignment, the flights to Las Vegas should be within reason.
Packing for TravCon- The general dress code during the event is business casual. You are going to want to bring party attire for the happy hour events and the official Travcon afterparty on Tuesday night. The days leading up to TravCon (Saturday and Sunday), agencies also host pool happy hours and since Las Vegas is hot in September, we recommend bringing a swimsuit. Finally, we suggest leaving room in your suitcase or bringing an extra duffle/suitcase because of the amount of swag (think pens, compression socks, stress balls, etc.) that you will receive from the exhibitor hall. Keep in mind that a 50lb suitcase may not be enough.
***Pro-tip: Remember that since this is an educational event, all expenses incurred can be written off on your taxes**
What to Expect
Educational Seminars- These sessions are geared towards everything you need to know as a traveling healthcare professional. Topics include, but are not limited to, tax advice, contract negotiations, a keynote speaker, self-care, finding community, and much, much more. Our suggestion is to attend at least 2-3 sessions per day and if there are two sessions happening at the same time, grab a friend, split up, and share notes. This year’s event will also be hybrid meaning there will be some sessions available online for replay. Check the TravCon website to see which sessions.
Exhibitor Hall at the Paris Conference Room- This is one of our favorite parts of the whole experience. The conference room holds 150+ vendors that are wanting to get to know YOU! The exhibitor booths range anywhere from travel agencies, healthcare brands, or other niche specific services that serve YOU. The booths in 2019 were very interactive and fun, so we imagine this year will be just as good! Some of the booths have games, special guests, prizes, and a TON of free swag! This is also your chance to get to meet your favorite recruiter or company IN PERSON. Come stop by and say hello to us at the MedVenture Booth #412 for some free swag and special giveaways.
Food- Breakfast and Lunch is included in your ticket and are provided on the 27th and 28th in the Exhibitor Hall. When we attended in 2019 we were pleasantly surprised by the variety of foods, it’s presentation, and how good it tasted. If you are a throughout the day snacker, bringing some snacks or bars to sustain you may be wise.
Drai’s NightClub After Party- Once the conference comes to an end on the 28th, your ticket includes admission to the exclusive TravCon afterparty. This is an all inclusive event (food, drinks, and adult beverages) with a live DJ where you can party the night away with your new best TravCon traveler friends.
Farewell Brunch- This is perhaps the saddest part of the whole experience. This is where you say goodbye (for now) to all of the new traveler friends you’ve made. This all-inclusive brunch is held on Wednesday September 29th from 10:00AM-12:30 PM.
Happy Hours and other perks- In addition to the events listed above, TravCon also hosts morning yoga and networking events. Several agencies host nightly happy hours, dinners, party buses, and other events before the conference as well as during. To learn more about these events we suggest you join the official TravCon Group on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/110354919604541 as well as the UN-OFFICIAL SHENANIGANS GROUP for ALL Travel Healthcare Conferences https://www.facebook.com/groups/TravConShenanigans.
***For a full list of TravCon Events go to https://travcon.org/schedule/ to learn more***
TravCon holds a special place in our hearts. We, the founders of MedVenture App, met at TravCon in 2019 and have been working on the MedVenture App ever since. We saw the value in connecting travelers and providing resources within TravCon, so we created a platform that does this year round. Even though TravCon took a hiatus from last year due to the COVID pandemic, this year will surely be a celebration of all the hard work and sacrifice every traveling healthcare professional has made this past year. If you find yourself at TravCon this September, don't forget to visit us at Booth #412; we hope to see you there!
Written By: Ryan and Emily, Co-Founders of MedVenture App
"I’m young and careful," "That would never happen to me." Do these statements ever cross your mind when signing up for a travel contract? They crossed mine and when trouble occurred, I wasn’t in the best position to prepare for the unexpected. I am here to tell you, fellow travelers, how to prevent or make the most out of a injury while on assignment.
While working my fourth contract in Virginia I injured my neck and shoulders. The funny thing was, I wasn’t even at work when my injuries occurred. Unable to perform my duties as a nurse my contract was cancelled. My insurance soon after was also terminated. They weren’t work related injuries, so I was left paying all the medical bills (physical therapy and orthopedic visits in NY and VA) on my own. So where do I go from here?
First: Check the insurance provided to you by your travel agency. I remember when I started travel nursing, getting injured to the point that I couldn’t work never crossed my mind. When I got injured the first time and was told I needed to do physical therapy before I could work again. Then, to have another accident that made my first injury worse and took me out of work even longer, yeah, that was definitely a blow. I thought about finances, how I’d pay for the three visits to two urgent cares and didn’t even know that my insurance was terminated. In the paperwork that came with my insurance it said that I was eligible for continued coverage if I was involuntarily terminated. I thought that it immediately rolled over to that coverage, but it’s actually a whole different process. You have to make sure to talk with your human resources representative and make sure that they send you the introductory letter or email to start the process for getting your continued coverage. Make sure you fill that paperwork out quickly because there is a window you have to be in to apply! I applied back in the beginning of July 2021 and my coverage didn’t resume until the end of August 2021! This can be and has been very stressful with the weekly phone calls to all those services and going through the insurance carrier, but also TASC, the third-party benefits administrator. Lastly, while you are applying for continued insurance after your contract is terminated, look for the sheet stating to apply to the ARP, this plan will help pay for your premium for your insurance.
Second: See if they offer any disability coverage (short term). This I wish I knew about before I even applied to travel nursing. When I was talking with my parents, my father told me to check and see if my company has any short-term disability services that I could apply for. Never knew that was a thing. I then checked in with my human resources again. Unfortunately, they said that they didn’t have that service (I know my per diem job back at my first hospital did), all they could recommend to me was to apply for unemployment. Since I was employed in Virginia and also had a job back in New York, they couldn’t tell me who or which one to apply to.
Third: Applying for unemployment. This can only be done once you are fully terminated from your contract. Now, if you have a per diem job in your home state too, chances are you will end up calling both states to see which unemployment benefit is higher. After choosing which state to apply for unemployment, you will have to call their unemployment department of labor agency and sit through a long list of prompts that you will have to answer. I hated this part because this took me from 830am to 1230pm because every time I’d be on a call with the representative the phone call would cut out and I’d have to repeat the whole process over again. Long story short, once you are finished applying for unemployment remember to certify your account and then certify for your benefits every week. Also, follow up every week to make sure your unemployment claim is being processed. I started this in Julyand I am still waiting for my claim to be either approved or denied. Other warning to heed, make sure you get your questionnaire and fill that out quickly. I was told I was going to receive one in the mail after I finished talking with a representative and never did, I had to reach out again to make sure the representative sent me one. Be prepared to wait a long period of time and to be hung up on multiple times. If that wasn’t enough, I was supposed to upload all my doctor’s notes into the portal for the department of labor. I was told by several representatives that there should be an option to upload, I promise there isn’t. I’ve called four days in a row for this issue and finally they said I can fax all the documentation (the questionnaire, the doctor’s notes and medical summaries). I refused that idea because the questionnaire has your full social security number and other personal identifiers, I didn’t want to risk the fax going somewhere it wasn’t supposed to go. So, I sent them through mail. A week went by and I never heard anything so I called again, when I finally got through, I was told they received the information I sent, but a few of the doctor’s notes were too light to read and was asked to send them again. I asked why I wasn’t informed that they received or even needed more copies of these documents and they simply said it isn’t there job to follow up with us. Finally, I did get a call from a case worker from the department of labor and they basically went over all the facts and documentation they needed to make and told me I should hopefully hear if my claim would be approved or denied. I've been working on this since June 2021 and it’s now September 2021.
Fourth: HSA and Emergency Fund. I was so thankful that my travel company had an HSA account set up for me. This benefit actually takes money from your paycheck and puts it into an account to pay for medical services. Definitely check if your travel company provides that benefit! The funds in that account helped me for a while, but unfortunately, I had to reach into my savings that were originally meant for graduate school. Even if it’s not for something in particular, I would highly recommend to everyone who travels to have an emergency fund. Not just for medical issues, but any unanticipated events that may come about in the unforeseen future.
Accidents can happen at any point in time. I was lucky mine weren’t too severe and just temporary. I’m in my twenties and in general a healthy person, I never thought I’d be injured to the point where I couldn’t work for a good chunk of time. Let my blunder be your friendly advice and please look into your benefits and services provided by your company. It might just save you from burning a big hole in your pocket.
As always, have fun, learn a lot and stay safe out there!
Written by: Kristina Marie, BSN, RN Neuro & General PCU