I never knew travel nursing existed until last year. I was staff at one of the best hospitals in Washington DC when I met a now friend who was a traveler. I didn’t give it any thought until about four months after meeting her. I’m always looking for my next adventure and having had been at the same hospital for 4 years I think it was time to give something new a try.
Now, don’t get me wrong I LOVE my hometown. I love the DMV and will be moving back to my hometown at some point in time. But, I just felt like it was time for something, well, different. It’s only been a little over a month into my first assignment but I’m learning so much about myself and the nursing field. What have I learned for myself?
My recruiter told me I would be working on the resource team or float pool, which means you float to different units who have needs within the hospital. At first I looked down on this. Having never done float pool before, I was only use to being on one unit either PICU or Medsurg with the occasional floating to a different unit, but that rarely happened( thank God). Now, every time I come in you want me to go to a different unit where I don’t know any of the people or the unit flow? Well, it actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. In fact it was perfect for me. I learned how to jump into something new, get the hang of it quickly, and move forward.A skill I don’t think I had prior to this experience. Not only that, but you get to know different people on different units in addition to caring for patients with different diagnosis that’s something you wouldn’t have by being on the same unit.
I used to be pretty conservative when it came for asking for help. Anyone whose been in the nursing field long enough knows that in nursing there a lot of women who can be rather catty and judgmental. I would try and pace myself or look things up in my spare time so I didn’t have to ask for a lot of help in hopes that others wouldn’t judge me.
Becoming a traveler forced me to ask for help way more than I have ever before. Now I ask for help all the time even if it’s something silly like “Where are the paper towels?”Recently, I’ve found myself not caring about whether people think I’m smart enough or not smart enough for the job. I just do my job. What others think doesn’t help your patients and it doesn’t write your check. I do still find myself googling disease processes in my spare time because there’s so much out here. Plus, I’m somewhat of a nerd too.
The Power of Negotiation
Okay, so as a traveler you have a designated recruiter. The recruiters I’ve had are great and helpful. However, they can be somewhat like car salesman. In the end let’s be honest everyone is looking out for themselves. They want to make money off of you and you as the traveler want a competitive pay meaning,that usually whatever is offered to you the first time is probably NOT the most you could be getting. I’ve NEVER negotiated or felt comfortable negotiating my pay until I became a traveler. If you want people to take advantage of you then they will. If you don’t, it’s important that you step out and try to negotiate you salary. There are professional ways to do this. Check out this link if your interested. My friend who I mentioned above is so good at this. But guess what, she gets what she wants. Don’t let others tell you what you’re worth. Know your worth for yourself!
Lastly, you’ll build so much confidence as a traveler. Here you are in a place where you have just yourself and your skill set. No one knows you and no one has any preconceived notions of you. It’s just you, your patients, and your coworkers. You have to know that you know what you know and considering the fact that you usually only get 3 days of orientation you have to be confident in you skills. For the most part nursing is the same everywhere you go. You have the skills use them, adapt, ask for help, know your worth, and be strong doing it all. You can do this!