When I started my travel nursing journey in 2014, I never thought that a shy guy like me would actually leave my home state to travel to a remote island 5,974 miles off the coast of California. Four years into my travel nursing career I was presented with the unique opportunity to take an assignment on the 125km beach island known as Guam. My first reaction was, “Where’s Guam and can I work as a nurse in a foreign country?”
Little did I know, Guam is actually a United States territory and as healthcare professionals we are allowed to travel and work on these highly desired (mostly tropical) locations to fill short term staffing needs. So how do you become a traveler in one of these amazing locations? Here are 6 steps when picking out your next U.S. territory destination.
Step 1: What is a United States territory and what are my options?
The United States territories are a group of geographical areas in the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. These territories fall under the jurisdiction of the United States federal government, but do not hold the same status as the 50 states that comprise the U.S. The United States territories that we can take assignments at are American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands and other minor outlying islands (Bajo Nuevo Bank, Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Palmyra Atoll).
Step 2: Do your research.
This might be the most important step. Before I went to Guam, I researched the island, and everything it had to offer. I looked up the culture, the local language, the history of how it became a U.S. territory, gyms (personal preference), cell phone service, housing options/price, car rentals (accessibility), the beaches, the hospitals, and it’s geographic location. These islands aren’t for everyone, so make sure you do your research before accepting your new assignment. Priming your brain about the local culture and history helps to understand the perspectives, people, and experiences you will encounter.
Step 3: Find a recruiting company that staffs the territories
From personal experience, the hardest part about getting an assignment is finding an agency to get you there. Unlike more popular destinations for travel assignments, few agencies are contracted with the hospitals to provide these opportunities for travelers. Here are some agencies that staff some of the U.S. territories: NuWest, WorldWide Staffing , MSS , HCEN, Professional Nurse, and VeroRN. Another option is to log into a marketplace comparison site like Wanderly or the Vivian App and set your destination to any U.S. territory to see what the current needs are.
Step 4: Sign the contract
The format and content of these contracts should be the same as any other contract you would receive on the mainland. Make sure that flights are included - a one way flight to Guam can be upwards of $2,000. If you need help dissecting these contracts, NurseRX can be a great resource (Go to our Traveler Resource Tab for an exclusive MedVenture discount on all NurseRX concierge services).
Step 5: Obtain a license
You need to obtain a license for the territory you are going to. They are considered a state without congressional rights and the process is very similar to the license by endorsement you go through for a state on the mainland. In Guam, you had to have your contract signed as proof of employment before they would grant you a nursing license. The turnaround time to obtaining a license in Guam was very efficient and fast. Even though I put this step as # 5, please verify with your agency before heeding this advice.
Step 6: Say hello to paradise.
This step is the most exciting, nerve-racking, and exhilarating part of the experience. You are going to a tropical place full of uncertainty and wonder, but don't worry, there are several ways you can meet other healthcare travelers before you even arrive. There is a Facebook group called “Travel Nurse Island Life: USA Territories, USVI, Guam, Saipan” that is very active. MedVenture App is also represented in every U.S. territory! We suggest you log on, set your location to any territory and start connecting with some amazing traveling healthcare professionals. Most travelers are very responsive and helpful, it's good to learn from one another’s experiences.
If you have even entertained the idea of traveling to the U.S. Territories, trust me, just pull the trigger! Guam restored my faith in humanity and reminded me of why I got into nursing in the first place. Every patient was respectful (they all called me sir), we call the patients Ma or Pa (like we’re all family), and I can count on one hand how many times I’ve given a controlled substance. If you have any questions or want more info on my travel assignment on Guam, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at email@example.com.
Written by: Ryan Cogdill, BSN, RN
The night-shift has its perks and its challenges. Some nurses have to work the night shift, some nurses could never even imagine being a night owl. For a crew of some pretty awesome, gritty, and sleepy nurses, night shift is home!
As night shift nurses, we can usually tell how our shift is going to start out just by looking at the nurse giving us report! If their water bottle is full, their hair is pulled up in an extra messy bun, and they have that, “I just did 12 million things today” look on their face, it’s probably going to be a rough night. The night shift crew is pretty tight though! We’re able to knock-out all the tasks and have fun doing it, especially when the 4am delirium sets in and everyone starts giggling over random things because you’re the kind of tired that makes everything hilarious.
There are pros and cons to working either days or nights but there are DEFINITELY some PERKS to working night shift and we’ll share them with you.
Despite how amazing working the night shift is, there are some DRAWBACKS. Here are a few of the not so great things about working the night shift that we’ve experienced.
Working the night shift isn’t for everyone, but if you’re on the fence on whether or not you should give it a try, do it! You’ll learn how to be resourceful, how to critically think independently, you’ll get the opportunity to really learn about your patients, and build incredible friendships with your co-workers.
And if you’d like a uNight Light to help brighten your shift, head over to www.lumifycare.com and use the code “medventure” to get 15% off!
Authors: Jennifferre Mancillas, BSN, RN &
Anthony Scarpone-Lambert, BSN, RN
1. What are my shift requirements/ start times?
It is important to know whether or not you are going to be scheduled for day or night shift. You should identify this in the initial conversation with your hiring manager and then have it transcribed into your contract before you sign. Clarify if you are working 36 or 48 hours and if those hours are guaranteed. Finally, ensure your start times. Not every hospital runs shifts 7-7. Some are 8 hours,10 hours or are from 6-6.
2. What are the floating requirements? Will I be floating to other units or "sister" hospitals?
The rule of thumb is that travelers are the first to float. However, this is not the case at every hospital. Ask your hiring manager how often their travelers float and to what kind of units they will float you. Some hospitals also have "sister" hospitals within the area and may require you to float to them if the census is low, so be sure to ask.
3. What are the scrub colors?
This may seem like a tedious question, but I've showed up to travel assignments wearing the wrong scrub color. Oftentimes the agencies you sign with don't know or tell you "any color" when that isn't the case so its better to ask than be blindsided.
4. What is the typical Nurse/Patient ratio on your unit?
This might be one of the most important questions to ask. Not every state is regulated with ratios like California. I've been on assignments where I've taken care of 6 Stepdown patients at one time! Never again. The answer to this question will most likely determine how hard you are going to work or if this assignment is a right fit for you.
5. What charting system do you use?
I like to know what I'm walking into. If it is an EMR that I have never used before, my follow up question would be am I going to get orientation on the charting system? If so, how much?
6. Do you have any ancillary staff (i.e. aides, phlebotomists, monitor techs, etc)?
I've done assignments where it was total care. You do all the baths, vitals, lab draws, etc. RUN AWAY.
7. What type of patients does your unit receive and what are the demographics?
It's good to know what kind of floor you will be on (cardiac, ortho, oncology, etc.) as well as what type of post-op patients you will be receiving.
8. What are my weekend requirements?
Oftentimes travelers are put on the schedule to fill in the gaps. This means working almost every weekend. If your hiring manager states every other weekend or no weekends, make sure this wording is in your contract.
9. Can I request off (ask for dates off here)?
If you have any days in your contract that you really need off, it is essential that you get approval from your manager and then transcribe those days into your contract before you sign.
10. How can I strive to be your ideal traveler?
Okay, this might be a little bit of ass kissing, but it has landed me every single assignment. Several of my former managers have told me they’ve never been asked this question and they EAT IT UP. You will be sure to get the job if you ask this golden question.
I hope this helped. If you have any questions that you ask when you are interviewing that I missed, please drop them in the comments below.
Authors: Ryan Cogdill BSN, RN & Emily Cheng BSN, RN Founders of MedVenture App