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