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The Fine Art of Finding a Contract Travel Nurse Job

If you’re dreaming of taking your nursing skills on the road, it may be time to start looking for a travel nursing job.

But if you’ve never tried contract nursing, you might be wondering: How hard is it to find a travel nurse job? Where do I even start? What can I do to ensure I get a good assignment?

Rest easy: it’s not as hard as you might think. In fact, you’ll find that working with a travel nurse recruiter can make the whole process go quite smoothly. Here are a few important things to do as you begin the search for your first travel nursing assignment.

Start by choosing the right travel nurse company for you

Start the process by researching travel nurse companies. Ideally, you want to go with an established nurse staffing agency with a good reputation, one that has connections to highly-ranked healthcare organizations and a wide array of job openings. Find out what kind of benefits they offer, too.

Perhaps you want one that offers short-term contract nursing jobs, crisis nursing jobs and traditional travel nurse assignments, like AMN Healthcare.

Once you find the right company, contact them right away. You can call a recruitment specialist or even peruse their online job listings and apply online.

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Get to know your nurse recruiter

Once you’ve chosen a travel nurse company, you’ll be connected with a recruiter. Your recruiter should spend some time getting to know you in order to understand what you are looking and help you find the right travel nurse jobs. Experienced travel nurses will tell you that having a good relationship with your travel nurse recruiter is one of the most important factors in creating a successful travel nursing experience.

That’s definitely the case for Kristine Lamb, RN, who travels with AMN. In fact, she’s grateful to have worked with two great recruiters who always had her best interests at heart. When her first recruiter transitioned to a new job, she began working with a new recruiter who quickly gained her trust. Now, they talk regularly on the phone. Lamb is confident that her recruiter knows her well enough to always look out for her best interests.  “One of these days, I am going to go to San Diego and meet her in person,” she said.

Be specific…but also flexible

When looking for a travel nursing contract, be honest with your recruiter.

  • Do want to work a traditional 13-week travel nursing assignment, or would you prefer a short-term contract nursing job that might last just four or six weeks?
  • Do you prefer a certain type of healthcare facility over another?
  • Are you looking for experience doing certain procedures or working on certain equipment?
  • Do you want to work in a particular region of the country?
  • Is it important to earn a certain rate of travel nurse pay?

Whatever your priorities are, speak up and let your recruiter know right off the bat. That way, he or she can narrow down the possibilities and approach you with options that will suit you best. Plus, your recruiter may have insight into particular companies and positions from past experience.

But seasoned travel nurses caution that it’s not a good idea to be too rigid in your job requirements. Your recruiter might stumble across an amazing job opening that doesn’t match all of your wish list, but it could still be a great opportunity for you. If you remain open to some different possibilities, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Consider a crisis response job

Want to get to work fast? Consider a crisis response job. These are typically short-term contract nursing positions in locations that need skilled nurses STAT.

Teri Knight, RN, wanted to find a way to use her ICU skills during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. She trusted her AMN recruiter to find a place for her. With a laugh she said, “I told him, ‘Send me where you need me, and send me where the money is.’”

From the time she got an offer for a 4-week crisis response job in California to her first day on the job was about two weeks. “It went really fast,” she said. She spent four weeks on a crisis COVID assignment in a hospital in the San Francisco Bay Area, then returned home for two weeks. After catching her breath, Knight then headed back to California for another 4-week crisis nursing job in Los Angeles.

These kinds of jobs are intense but can be incredibly rewarding. So, if this kind of work sounds appealing, let your recruiter know.

Finalize the details of your contract nursing assignment

Once you’ve found the right travel nursing job, work with your recruiter to finalize the details. Your recruiter will connect you with housing specialists who can help you secure free accommodations during your travel nursing assignment or provide a housing stipend; credentialing specialists who will make sure your nursing licenses and credentialing paperwork are in order; and payroll specialists to ensure you are set up for timely payments.

You’ll also be connected with the right people at the hospital where you’ll be working, and have a set of first-day instructions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

If you start working with AMN, you’ll also have access to the AMN Passport app to help you find, book and manage your assignments, or contact your recruiter as needed.

So…start packing!  You’re about to embark upon a great adventure.

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