By July 15, 2009 0 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: Will a hospital take a first time traveler?

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A recent question involved whether or not a hospital would take someone who is on their first assignment. I fear my answer might make a few of those interested in becoming a travel nurse take pause.

Just one year ago I would have said that there are enough travel positions and would have advised the first-time traveler to keep plugging away. Unfortunately, the economy has drastically changed and it has certainly affected those nurses looking to venture out on their first travel assignment.

I am a current traveler and have recently been looking for an assignment in ICU. While there are a few positions out there, they are filling fast. When my recruiters read the job descriptions of many of the assignment postings, the hospitals have now started stipulating, “No first-time travelers”.  The nurse seeking a first assignment ends up in a catch-22 situation where they have no experience, but also cannot gain any.

The economy has changed the way hospitals do business with many facilities trimming back on the number of outside agency staff they are using (including travelers). This has led to a large number of travelers with experience seeking jobs. Because there are so many qualified applicants out there, the hospitals can now demand the “cream of the crop” when it comes to travelers.

Some specialties are more in demand such as telemetry. While an ICU nurse used to be able to find a position virtually anywhere, I now know a few ICU nurses that have had to accept contracts for tele positions.

If you are still looking to take the plunge, see how many postings there are in your specialty. If you are only finding a handful of positions, it might be better to wait until things start to rebound a bit.

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About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies. I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today. I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

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