common travel nurse

8 Common Travel Nurse Mistakes: If Avoided, Will Save You Time & Money

Travel nursing is an adventurous and demanding profession. Starting out as one is never easy, given the many day-to-day challenges, from things to learn to patients to deal with. It’s human to make mistakes and errors that can easily be avoided just by keeping an eye open. 


A rookie in any field faces challenges inevitably. While some errors are bound to happen, others can be avoided by reading this article. There are a lot of mistakes you can make as a travel nurse. We can only cover so much, so we’ll go over these eight mistakes that are commonly made by new travel nurses over the years and that you can avoid so that things go smoothly as possible for you. 


Without further ado, let’s dive right in. 


1- Not Understanding the Ins-and-outs of the Industry


One of the most common mistakes new travel nurses make is not understanding how the industry works and, more specifically, how the pay system works. As a travel nurse, you are working to make a living that can sustain you for long enough.


That’s why we have jobs. So you, really, genuinely need to understand precisely how it works. Too many travel nurses go into it without understanding the rules and regulations of the overall industry but, more specifically, as I said, know exactly what to expect from a pay standpoint. 


How to Avoid This mistake:


Many resources, including travel and nursing websites, can help you understand all the nooks and crannies of this industry. Doing your research will help save you time and money.


2- Carelessness with Personal Information


If you’re placing your personal information on a random advertising website hoping to hear back from them, you need to stop instantly. common travel nurse

Sure, you could get inundated with hundreds of phone calls and emails daily. However, none of these calls would help you secure a job as a travel nurse. You don’t want this one to happen to you unless you’ve got time to kill. A little extra care with your personal information will save you from junk calls. 


How to Avoid This Mistake: 


Find one or two companies where you want to get hired. Go directly to their website, and enter your information on the website. You want to avoid clicking on an ad or some other clickbait where a random website gets your information and then sell it to a bunch of companies. That’s where the phone calls and emails start. And it is difficult to get them to stop other than, you know, changing your email or phone number. But who wants to do that?


3- Premature Engaging with Recruiters


Contacting recruiters too soon is another common mistake that new travel nurses tend to make. However, if you want to reach out to a recruiter a year or a few months ahead of time to find out some information, there’s no problem with that. But unfortunately for you, until you’re about a couple of weeks to maybe a month or two away from your joining, the recruiter will not pay much attention to you. They need nurses now that can start as quick as possible. So the sweet spot is if you can start and be out of travel assignment, add a destination in two to four weeks. You’re golden right there. That’s when a recruiter will give you a lot of their attention. But if you’re past that two months mark, call a recruiter and say, hey, I can start in 5-6 months. They’re going to say, OK, great, contact me in four months. 


How to Avoid This Mistake: 


There’s nothing wrong with calling ahead and getting a relationship started, but don’t expect a lot of attention from the recruiters until it’s almost time to go. It’s quick biz, and these travel assignments happen rapidly. 


4- Working With Only One Company


If you were to buy a car, you’re going to look around, and you’re going to maybe go to different dealerships unless you get the specific car dealer or company that suits your needs. common travel nurse

It’s the same thing with the job of a travel nurse. If you’ve got a friend that’s a travel nurse and has a great experience with a particular company or recruiter, then great, stick with them. But eventually, you’re going to want to have two companies at least, and probably even three or four companies. Maybe even three or four recruiters.


On the whole, there are two main reasons for saying this. First, it gives you more negotiating power. And second, you’ll have a wide range of options to choose from. As for the negotiations, if you have two or more assignments you’re thinking about simultaneously, drawing from the car analogy, you’d always have better deals. You’re going to be telling back and forth what the other dealers are saying, and then hopefully, that kind of makes the pot or the car a better deal for you. So it’s the same thing with travel nursing. If you’ve got one contract offer, you go to another company and recruiter and say, look, I’ve got this great offer. Can you do anything for me? Can you sweeten the pot at all? Otherwise, I will take this one because it’s a great deal. 


How to Avoid This Mistake: 


Every company has different job locations and contracts with various hospitals. Some companies specialize in certain states or specific areas. So if you want to go to one particular position in your company that you’re currently with and they don’t have jobs there, you’ll need to spread your wings and see what else is out there, giving you more options. The bottom line is that you should have at least two to three companies, and at each one of those companies, you will have one or two recruiters, so you’re never out of work or options.


5- Under Budgeting Upfront Costs


Although the travel companies you work with will cover much of your stuff, including your scrubs, licenses, certifications and travel money. One of the vast benefits of being a travel nurse is getting much of this stuff paid for. The misconception amongst most nurses is that they think they’ll get paid for them upfront. This indicates that you cannot say, hey, this certificate I’ve got is for 100 bucks. Send me $100, so I can get this certification.

Nope, they will have you get the certificate or drive you to your destination. Once you start an assignment, provide proof of that purchase on your first, second, or third paycheck. No matter what it was for, they’ll add it to your next paycheck. So a simple example is that getting a license will cost you a couple of 100 bucks. However, you’ll get gas money and hotel expenses from your recruiters, especially if you’re driving to an assignment that will take a couple of days.


How to Avoid This Mistake: 


You’ll need a small stockpile of money upfront to get you to an assignment. Save your receipts, submit those receipts, and after a couple of weeks of working on that assignment, you should get reimbursed by that company. Still, you don’t want to rely on that company sending you money upfront because they will not do that. It would be best if you showed receipts. 


6- Unclear on Travel Locations


There is no such thing as unprepared/undecided travel nurses. This kind of goes back to being prepared thing. Suppose you call a travel company and say I don’t know what I want. I’ll go anywhere. This statement would lead you to remote hospitals and locations no one wants to go to.


How to Avoid This Mistake: 


If you don’t know where you want to go and the recruiter starts firing off suggestions, you don’t want to keep shooting them down as it would leave a wrong impression on the hiring person. The recruiter is going to get upset, so be decisive. List at least a few options for where you’d like to go. Plan ahead. Additionally, it’s crucial to know in advance if you need a license, a compact license, or just a state license. The bottom line, know a few spots you’d like to be at. Be decisive as it will help you and your recruiter make everything smoother in the long run.


7- Not Negotiating Pay


As the travel nurse, you need to negotiate your extension pay. Usually, the contract between the companies and travel nurses lasts 13 weeks. But, due to the supply-demand imbalance, most nurses get an offer to stick around for an additional 13 weeks. There’s room to negotiate here in the form of an extension bonus. common travel nurse

At this point, many nurses will quickly jump to say yes to the extension offer without thinking about negotiating their pay. 


How to Avoid This Mistake: 


This is an excellent opportunity for all the travel nurses to say, oh, they liked me, huh? Great. I liked them. But by the way, it’d be nice if I could get, you know, 50 bucks more per week. Maybe even 100 dollars more per week. The hospital is going to have no problem doing that. Same with the travel company. They’ve already got all their costs back from getting you started on a travel assignment, getting you set up with all their drug tests, and getting you to that assignment. Since you’re extending your services and saving the company and the hospital’s funds, it wouldn’t be wrong to claim some of that cash.


8- Not Asking Questions


Last but not least, another common mistake made by new travel nurses is shying away from questions. Settling into any new work environment is no easy task and shouldn’t be treated that way. So, if you’re in that position, don’t hold yourself back from asking for help. It’s an underrated way of evolving as a professional or human. Ask as many questions as possible until you find your answers because sometimes, not asking questions can lead you to a deep pitfall. 


How to Avoid This Mistake: 


Surround yourself with uplifting and helpful coworkers encouraging your questions and ensuring they’re best answered. Choose a good agency and recruiter that are willing and happy to provide the guidance you need to get started on assignment. Remember, asking questions is always better than assuming.


The Bottom Line…


No one is immune to errors including travel nurses. With all the traveling, there are chances of slip-ups here and there. Therefore, we’ve highlighted the eight common mistakes that new travel nurses make that can be easily avoided. We’ve also added a section of recommendations as to how you can prevent them in hopes of helping you.

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