I read this article on Healthcare Traveler and just wondered what you would add to this list?
Beth’s best bets: 33 ways to prepare for life on the roadÂ
As someone who has packed and unpacked for more than 50 assignments, knowing what needs to be taken care of prior to arriving at a new location is embedded in my conscience. But my system for simplifying the mobile lifestyle wasn’t always second nature.
For 13 years, I’ve accepted contracts as a locum tenens nurse practitioner, primarily through CompHealth, a healthcare recruitment and staffing company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Many of the strategies I adhere to today have been learned the hard way or by trial and error. I’ve always thought it would be great if there were a way to spare other travelers a similar learning curve. Here, I am pleased to share some of my top suggestions for streamlining the process and making the most of the travel experience.
1. Read through a contract carefully prior to signing it. Be sure to clarify what “furnished” housing entails so you know what to pack. If you have any questions, call your recruiter before you put pen to paper.
2. Compile a list of questions to ask hospital representatives during interviewsâ€”including inquiries about the provider-to-patient ratio and why the institution is in need of supplemental staff. Be sure to do a bit of online research on each facility, too, so you can demonstrate your knowledge about its size, specialty areas, and other attributes. Then, jot down the answers, and keep the Q&A documentation for reference.
3. Review the Nursing Practice and Regulation Act (NPRA) for the state in which you will be practicing. NPRAs for Alabama through Wyoming may be found online at the National Council of State Boards for Nursing (www.ncsbn.org).
4. Call ahead to the facility and find out what texts will be available to you. Knowing which books you will have access to should limit the number of manuals you’ll want to take along.
5. Ask your unit manager, prior to arriving at the facility, for the names of the people with whom you’ll work the most. It’s actually easier to remember others’ names when you learn them before you meet face to face.
6. Inquire about the food selection in the cafeteria and its hours, as well as your mealtime(s). This way, you’ll know whether or not to pack a lunch or snack.
7. Contact the housing manager, or the person who has the key to your apartment, to verify a meeting place and time. Failure to set up an appointment in advance could literally leave you out in the cold.
8. Check the state laws in your assignment location for deposit and returns on recyclable cans and bottles before you arrive, and remember to reprocess other recyclables, too. Ask your housing manager about policies on the collection or drop off of plastics and cardboard boxes.
9. Roll your clothes instead of folding them. You’ll be able to fit more into your suitcase and can take along a small can of fabric relaxant, such as Wrinkle-FreeÂ®, to eliminate creases with just a few sprays.
10. Use small ZiplocÂ® bags to keep jewelry, hair clips, and other small items organized. This will also prevent them from getting lost in the shuffle.
11. Arrange belongings in a similar pattern every time you pack (e.g., always place your small iron in the right front corner of your blue suitcase). You will be able to locate and group your belongings more efficiently.
12. Clean out your wallet, discarding old ticket stubs, receipts, and other papers you no longer need. Then, copy your credit card information and keep it in a safe placeâ€”other than your walletâ€”so you can quickly notify creditors if cards are lost or stolen.
13. Purchase a travel hairdryer that’s at least 1600 watts. Drying your hair with models of lower wattage will take far too much of your time.
14. Place your shoes in clear plastic bags. Not only will you reduce the possibility of scuffmarks, you’ll also be able to identify them promptly when you unpack.
15. Take along a few favorite family photos for your apartment and workspace. Surrounding yourself with warm, friendly faces can truly make new spaces your own.
16. Bring a small collection of commonly used kitchen items, such as plastic ware and a paring knife. Depending on the terms of your contract, other housewares may or may not be provided.
17. Beware of flowered bedspreads and others with ornate patterns often found in hotels or housing units. If you place a small object on one as you’re packing, it can be easily become “lost” in the complex pattern.
18. Apply for membership to an auto club, if you’re not already affiliated with one. Not only will you have access to 24-hour emergency roadside assistance, you’ll also enjoy other benefits, like “locked door” service in case you inadvertently leave your keys in your vehicle.
19. Obtainâ€”and readâ€”travel guides from your motor club, a bookstore, or online.
20. Stash a log mileage book in the glove compartment of your car. You’ll easily be able to jot down business miles for travel reimbursement.
21. Be especially diligent about routine car maintenance if you’re driving your own vehicle. The better you care for your auto, the less likely you are to find yourself stranded and/or contacting repair shops unfamiliar to you.
22. Break up a long drive by alternating between terrestrial or satellite radio and books on CD or tape acquired from your local library. Once you arrive at your destination, you can return the audio booksâ€”which would cost about $29.95 each if you purchased them in a storeâ€”by mail.
Keeping in touch
23. Maintain a permanent address and have someone forward your mail to you. Provide the appointed friend or family member with adequate money for postage, large envelopes, and labels printed with your temporary address. Ask this person to weed out any junk mail and send correspondence and parcels to you every week or so.
24. Sign up for the United States Postal Service’s Premium Forwarding Service at your local Post Office when filling out a Change of Address Form. This domestic service forwards items weekly from your permanent address to a temporary one via Priority MailÂ®. Cost is $10.40 per week, plus an enrollment fee of $10.
25. Ask a trusted friend to become your “file buddy.” Let him or her know where your licenses, tax papers, and other important documents are stored so they can be easily located and sent to you in case of an emergency.
26. Look into call forwarding options to redirect incoming calls from your home phone. If you opt to forward them to your mobile phone, determine your wireless carrier’s fee structureâ€”you could incur higher rates. Since callers usually absorb the related chargesâ€”including long distanceâ€”you should also let your family and circle of friends know about your plan.
27. Make sure you have the phone numbers and addresses of professionals with whom you regularly meet, from healthcare providers and dentist, to accountant and financial planner, to home bank representative. Or, pack your local White/Yellow Pages.
28. Send a personalized calendar or schedule to your loved ones once you’ve reached your destination. List the dates and duration of your assignment(s), as well as work phone numbers for each facilityâ€”particularly if you’ve accepted a number of short-term, subsequent contracts.
29. Charge any expenses over $5 to a debit or credit card. You’ll minimize the need for carrying large sums of cash and won’t rack up usage fees on automated teller machines.
30. Ask your travel company to pay you via direct deposit. Since your paycheck will be deposited directly into your banking account, you won’t have to concern yourself with waiting for it to clear or finding an alternative/additional bank.
31. Arrange to have your credit card, car insurance, home utility, and other bills paid via automatic deduction. This practice will ensure your creditors receive payment in a timely fashion and eliminate late fees for bills that are lost in the mail or reach you when they’re overdue.
32. Go with credit cards that offer benefits of particular interest to travelersâ€”like frequent flyer miles and cash rewardsâ€”since you’ll be using plastic with some regularity. For instance, through its Get More Program, DiscoverÂ® Card is offering 5 percent back on all gas, auto service, and parts purchases through the end of this month.
33. Check with your accountant about the allowed number of days you may remain away from your permanent tax home and be eligible for deductions.
Attention to detail
As you repeatedly travel to new locations, you’ll undoubtedly add to or embellish upon this listâ€”tailoring it to your individual preferences and needsâ€”or develop your own. No matter your destination, attending to details before you take to the road will help you develop a routine and minimize any surprises along the way. For tips on how to acclimate easily and make the most of an assignment once you arrive, don’t miss more of my best bets in next month’s issue.
Jun 1, 2006Â
By: Beth LandisÂ