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What’s it like to be a travel nurse right now? – A June 2020 guide to travel nursing

In past posts, I’ve discussed why cancellations are occurring and how coronavirus has affected travel nursing (mostly related to the lack of revenue in hospitals right now/the economic crisis), and what travel nurses can do to avoid contract cancellations. In this post, I want to discuss what nurses can do to enhance the chances of actually getting the travel positions that they are applying for.

If you are a travel nurse, then you have experienced or heard about the unstable market. It’s getting better, but pay rates still have a ways to go, and cancellations still aren’t as uncommon, as I’d like to see the number of travel nurse jobs increasing. Vivian Health has over 8,000 RN jobs listed today, compared to less than 3,000 when I searched for jobs two weeks ago. But, many specialties and locations are still seeing a high number of nurses applying for a low number of jobs. So how can you stand out?

What's it like to be a travel nurse right now? - June 2020

There are a few actions you can take to increase the likelihood of finding a travel job. First and foremost, have all of your agency profiles completed. Make sure your recruiter has your resume, professional licenses, certifications, and references completed. If you are looking for a new agency, organize all of your documents so that they can be expedited to the recruiter when you find the job that you want. If it is taking you 2-3 days to send an agency all of your info while they are waiting to submit you to a job, chances are, the position will be filled within 24 hours. The easiest way to keep all your documents in one place is to create a profile with Vivian. You can upload all of your documents into the system for a streamlined application process. If you already have a profile, make sure it's up to date and complete so you can submit to jobs as soon as they arise!!

Be persistent with your recruiters. If you are looking for a specific location or shift, and are unwilling to compromise- make sure you tell them that. Politely state exactly what you are looking for and what your 'must-haves' are in a contract. You can check out agency reviews on Vivian if you are new to travel nursing. 

Additionally, stay on top of the communication with your recruiters. If you are waiting to hear back about a job offer, and your recruiter is past due on a phone call to you, call them! Don’t be shy! Ask what is happening with the job opening. You can also ask if they are able to find out how many nurses have applied for this job.

I have found some recruiters to be hesitant to call me back and tell me that the position has been filled or deleted. Push your recruiter to be honest with you in order to help you make the most informed decision about your job. 

Keep an eye out for top jobs in your email with Vivian job alerts. These positions are tailored to each travel nurses' search criteria. Click on the job to connect with a recruiter and apply ASAP!

Travel Nursing and COVID-19

There are still come COVID-19 response jobs posted for areas in need. These jobs may increase in the next few weeks as America opens up and people start to gather again. I am hoping we don't see another massive wave of patients, but it seems that no one can accurately predict the course of the virus. If you are taking a COVID-19 job, ask about PPE availability and precautions that are standard in the unit you will be working on.

Be Flexible!

Some travelers are transitioning to staff but others are seeing the market rise and hunting for jobs. Flexibility is key to secure a travel nursing job in the current state of affairs. Flexibility in location, pay (be realistic!), duration of the contract, and specialty unit (be willing to float) will increase your chances of landing a travel job right now. If you are ultra-flexible and do not have a specific location or shift in mind, you can definitely find a travel job. 

Travel Nurse Housing Recommendation

Given the uncertainty of the market, I wouldn’t recommend putting a housing deposit down for your whole contract. Find short term housing or a place that will not financially ruin you for breaking a lease if your contract gets canceled. Until you are sure you are staying, I would find something temporary or without major financial repercussions if you have to leave. 

Good luck to all the travel nurses out there and this will get better! It’s already improved exponentially over the last few weeks. Thank you for your care and dedication to the profession!



Rachel Norton BSN, RN

Rachel Norton BSN, RN

I have been a critical care nurse since 2007. I grew up in the northeast but enjoy every corner of the country. My passions are people and travel. Travel nursing allows me to meet amazing people and satisfy my wanderlust. I love inspiring other nurses to travel and expand their practice.

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