MY FIRST TRAVEL NURSE ASSIGNMENT
I just recently returned home from my first travel assignment in Los Angeles, and it was one of the best decisions I have made! Nursing has brought so many different opportunities in my life and this has been one of greatest thus far. In this post I share my whole process from finding my first assignment, adjusting to a nomadic life, and the completion of my first assignment in LA!
FINDING THE ASSIGNMENT
I have been told by many recruiters that finding your first assignment is one of the hardest to find because your lack of TRAVEL nurse experience. Now, I have about seven years of nurse experience under my belt (two years in the Surgical Trauma ICU and 5 years in the PACU), and it was true, I HAD A HARD TIME FINDING MY FIRST ASSIGNMENT. Granted, I limited my options by only wanting to be in the PACU and in the LA area. Now, “they” do say that you need to work your way into major cities by starting in smaller cities in only God knows where. This is absolute BS if you stay persistent.
As I was looking for my first assignment, timing was very important to me. I knew I wanted to start some time in September so that I could make it back home for Christmas and the New Year. Thus, you could feel my worry as September was almost half way through and I was yet to have any leads. FINALLY, after about five recruiters in, numerous reference calls, and 6 profile submissions, I had an offer! Now five recruiters is excessive, but I was getting desperate. I would recommend only having no more than 3 recruiters just because it does get confusing keeping up with all the phone calls and profiles.
So now time to pack my bags and move! NOT! After your offer it takes some time for all the final paper work to be processed and completed. For me, I needed to send in a copy of all my vaccinations, run around and get some vaccinations completed, and fill out all the paper work for the agency/hospital. Then after about two weeks of running around and completing everything, it was finally time to pack my bags and go!
MY LIVING ARRANGEMENTS
Luckily, for me, I had a friend out in LA that was also doing travel nursing and a cousin who lives out there. I couch surfed for a few weeks, until I felt comfortable about what areas were safe and where to finally set up camp. It was definitely stressful at first not knowing anything about the area and to top it off I didn’t have a car!
After about a few weeks and some sketchy Craigslist’s postings, I settled with an Air B&B in Westwood. It had everything I needed, furniture, a small kitchen, and a parking spot.
I ended up taking an assignment about 25 miles east of LA in the PACU of a small community hospital. Before I flew out to LA I was able to chat with some friends of friends and ask about the area. Now, if you don’t know anybody in the city that you are traveling to, there are some amazing resources out there or travel nurses. One great one is the The Gypsy Nurse Network on Facebook. By asking people, I knew I was about to do this 25 mile commute just because I was 1) working 3 times a week and 2) I knew I wouldn’t be stuck in the LA traffic since everybody would be heading the opposite direction as me.
The weekend before my assignment I received my instructions for my first day as a travel nurse. It said…
Please report to nursing admin Monday, 10am. You can park in the visitors parking.
Yup, that was it, as simple as that. I was pretty much winging everything from this point, so it was only appropriate that that was my instructions for this assignment. I headed to the hospital that Monday morning, I got pushed into all different directions, first to the nursing administration office, where they told me then to head to HR. I then got my ID badge and they told me to head to the Unit, where the charge nurse didn’t even know that I would be there that day. My orientation consisted of the charge nurse telling me to take a look around and peak into the cabinets to get familiar. She then instructed me to see if I had computer access, she called IT and sat me right in front of a computer, once that was complete she was like perfect you can take the next patient. LOL it was crazy, but everybody was helpful, and thats all I could really ask for.
My assignment all in all was not awful. It was in a small community hospital. Honestly, nursing is nursing wherever you go. I came from a large teaching hospital in Chicago so it was pretty easy to adjust. The process of recovering a patient is pretty much the same. The hospital I was assigned to just lacked the resources that I was use to at my previous job and their computer charting system was primitive.
The eleven weeks went by fast and my assignment was over. Luckily for me my parents had visited a couple weeks before my return and helped with lugging some of my stuff back home. I only really had two suitcases a large one and small one filled with clothes and toiletries. Now, here I am back in Chicago just in time for the holidays.