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Choosing a travel nursing assignment can keep you up at night fretting over the decision. As you toss and turn, you wonder – is location or salary more important? Do you want to be close to home or in your dream city? Do you want a small or big facility? What about a hospital with an excellent reputation?
High demand for travel nurses gives you a wide array of options, which can make your decision harder. Weighing all the factors of a travel nursing assignment and applying an efficient decision-making technique will make the process easier so you can decide, feel confident and be on your way.
Things to Consider
While everyone will have different factors that are important to them and their personal decision-making process, there are a few common factors that all travel nurses should consider.
Create a list of your top five destinations. Read books, browse websites and talk to people who have lived in or are from the cities you want to visit. Research the affordability of the city and compare it with the pay. Take weather, walkability, crime and other factors in to account. Number your list from your favorite to least favorite to help you prioritize options as they present themselves.
Most travel agencies will either give you corporate housing or a housing stipend. Corporate housing apartments are usually standard apartments with basic furniture. You bring personal items, but don’t usually need to worry about larger items like a microwave or television. This option is convenient for many travel nurses because it means they don’t have to stress about finding and furnishing short-term housing.
A housing stipend is money you receive during the assignment to put toward rent in your new city. If you don’t like the thought of living in an assigned housing complex, then you may want to consider this option and make it a priority when assessing assignments. You will need to find a rental and possibly even furnish it, though, which can be stressful with a busy work schedule. Bonus tip: housing stipends are tax-free!
How far are you willing to move? Do you want to live on the opposite side of the country or do you need to stay near friends and family?
If being near familiar faces is important to you, give yourself a maximum driving distance that you are willing to travel to return home so you can limit the locations on your list. If you want to explore a far-away location but are concerned about getting homesick, consider shorter assignments for far distances.
Reputation of the Hospital
Research the hospital before you go to find out what the staff and environment are like. If you have heard bad things or that there is no support for you once you are there, consider if you’d be ok with that situation. Trust your instinct when it comes to this. If something doesn’t feel right during the recruiting process, then move on to the next one.
Alternately, if you want hands-on experience at some of the greatest hospitals and teaching facilities in the country without making a permanent move, a stint as a travel nurse is a great way to get the experience without a long-term (and expensive) commitment. If working at a top-rated facility is the most important aspect of your travel nurse career, make this your top qualifier and take whichever opportunities come up.
How to Decide
Take the criteria above and any other factors that are important to you – such as duration of assignment – and plug them into a decision-making worksheet. This process allows you to weigh all options according to a point value so you can easily compare opportunities based on your priorities.
The key to making a good decision about your next assignment as a travel nurse is knowing what is important to you and following a logical decision-making process that will help you honestly evaluate the opportunity. This helps guard against “buyer’s remorse” or making an “in the heat of the moment” decision and ending up with an assignment that you truly won’t be happy with. If you don’t get your first pick for a travel nursing assignment, don’t fret. Your second and third options may be better than you imagined and by following this process you’ll feel comfortable taking any of them.