Allow me a moment to reminisce of the days when optimism was in the air for travel nurses. When "everything is negotiable" was the coin phrase, and choosing our next assignment was a matter of discerning the best deal of several offers on the plate.
I reflect on yesterdays' memories because they so sharply contrast the conversations of today. Travelers now discuss with anxiety where they hope to get another assignment, even though no offers or interest by hospitals are available.
"Perhaps I should take a permanent position here", considers another traveler, "at least its employment".
No doubt about it; options are dwindling, as leverage sways to the hospitals' position. Health care, and for that matter the economy as a whole is being retooled and travel nurses face a restructuring as well.
In this shifting process what once appeared certain no longer is, and the very process itself is murky and unclear as the finished product of tomorrow's health care remains elusive and undetermined in legislature halls and corporate boardrooms.
So what is a travel nurse to do?
My first piece of advice is to keep a clear head. Allowing today's emotions to determine tomorrow's outcome is often a recipe for regret.
Uncertainty creates fear, a powerful motivator, and there is nothing like the uncertainty of finding that next assignment to create fear. A recruiter may suggest that the traveler remain at their current hospital, but you can see those positions drying up. You strain through rumors from other travelers and hear horror stories of bad experiences.
How do you keep a clear head in all of this?
Keep an eye on the facts. Yes, travel positions are decreasing in number but will not likely be altogether eliminated.
Hearing that a hospital is going agency or travelers free staffing is nothing new. I personally have been hearing that for ten years and I am sure others have been hearing it longer. Remember that travel work is temporary at best that is why it is best to keep our budgets and living expenses the same; Temporary. Travelers know that debt travels with us and is best kept small and short term; just like the nature of our work.
I recently know of two travelers that wanted positions in two very different parts of the country. Both were unable to obtain contracts at the end of their current assignment. So what did they do?
They both moved to their desired location anyway. I personally know that one of them got an assignment within a week of relocating.
One advantage travel nurses possess is adapting quickly in new situations and environments, an important asset as health care is being retooled. I would suggest that travelers keep an eye and ear open to the current health care reform debate and be ready to retool their own professional skills in preparation for the coming changes.