How to get your foot (back) in the hospital door
When a nurse is just getting into travel nursing, the recommendation for in-hospital experience is 1-2 years. But what if you’ve got lots of hospital experience but have been working out of the hospital for a couple years? Whether you’ve been doing home care, school nursing, working in nursing home, or elsewhere, recent hospital experience remains very important — and travel nurse hospital experience is imperative. I’ve talked to nurses who have decades of hospital experience but had gotten out of the hospital setting for a few years and had a hard time getting back in. Here are some tips for regaining travel nurse hospital experience:
Know that you are not alone
Having difficulty getting back into hospital work is not something you should take personal. Many of your peers and colleagues face (or have faced) this difficulty. Don’t let not getting back into hospitals right away make you second-guess your skills and expertise. Power through, keep your chin up, and you’ll attain your goal!
Know what you’re up against
The unspoken standard of time that being out of hospital work typically presents a problem is about two years. At this point recruiters and facilities may begin to bristle, wishing you had more recently worked in a hospital setting. You may want to consider this two-year standard in the future when changing jobs.
Take what you can (to start)
Sure, “settling” isn’t normally great career advice, but in this case I’d advise that if you’re having a tough time getting back in at the hospital level you to take whatever hospital work becomes available. It may not be your preferred location or department, but it will pay off. Keep in mind that after 13 short weeks (or other brief amount of time if you can’t achieve this while traveling) you will have increased your market value quite a bit because now you’ve regained your recent travel nurse hospital experience. If your hospital experience is too out of date for a travel contract, consider doing some per diem or provisional hospital work to get it back to the top of your resume.
Hit the books!
Going back to school and/or getting some new certifications under your belt can do wonders for you in this situation. Take classes that will update your existing education and this will make you more marketable. If you followed the last bullet point, and have your foot in the door at a hospital, you are likely eligible for some free certificate classes — PALS, TNCC and ACLS are a few good one to go for.
Do you have any tricks for regaining travel nurse hospital experience after an absence from hospital work? Let us know in the comments!