You’re ready for your first assignment, where do you start?

Getting your first travel assignment can be harder than it has to be if you don’t plan and research ahead of time. You don’t want to rely solely on what you’ve heard from from other travel nurses. Always do your own research. There are a few things you need to start off with.

What type of license do you have?

You need to know if you have a compact or non-compact nursing license. If you have a compact license, you can take assignments in other compact states without applying for a license in that state. If you’re non-compact you’ll have to apply for the state that you’re wishing to go. Most agencies will reimburse you for the license application fees. Depending on the state you’ll want to apply ahead of time, California is one of those states. More info on compact and non-compact states can be found here.

Have references on hand.

Before you apply for any travel job, make sure you have at least three references that you can use. At least two of them need to be charge nurse or higher. Every company you apply to will ask for at least three references, it’s the part I hate the most as a travel nurse. References typically last for a year, and depending on the length of your assignments you could do up to 13 assignments in one year. So you’ve been to 13 different places and have met at least 2 supervisors on each. By the time you need new references, you probably won’t even remember half of the people you met along the way.

Have an updated resume ready

Along with references, an updated resume will be one of the things that agencies ask for. So go ahead and get it ready beforehand. They will want to know the number of beds in the facility, the number of patients you were responsible for, and if you have ever had charge experience.

Make sure all certifications are updated

Make sure any certifications you have are up to date. BLS, ACLS, IV Certification, Wound Care, etc. Nothing is worse than being in the middle of an assignment, in the middle of nowhere and needing to take a recertification class.

Find the right agencies

You see I said agencies instead of agency. Don’t limit yourself to one travel nurse agency. Different agencies offer different contract lengths, locations, and benefits. I’m currently with three at the moment. Each one has something the others don’t. Here are my top three favorites so far:

Have an idea of where you want to go

Have a list of at least 5 possible states you’d like to go. If you hold a compact license, you’ll have a bit notebook flexibility. You’ll also want to have an idea of if you’ll want to be in the city or in a rural area.

These are just a few tips to get started with. Be sure to stay on the lookout for more post. I’ll be giving out tips on housing and more very soon!

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