If you’re trying to break into travel nursing, you might be intimidated by the process of getting placed on an assignment. Submitting documents, finding your perfect recruiter, and deciding on a great assignment all take time – but how much time should you expect to wait before you can get your feet on the ground at a brand-new facility? We’ll outline each step of the journey to getting a great travel nursing assignment so that you know what to expect.
Here’s what you want to do first when preparing for your travel nursing journey:
- Figure out what your personal availability date is. Are you trying to start as quickly as possible? Are you trying to find an assignment in 6 months once you’ve reached your two-year mark at your permanent position? What is your standard notice period at your facility (2 weeks, 30 days, etc.)? Will your employer pay out your remaining PTO, if applicable? Taking all of these questions into consideration, try to decide on a date, or a small date range, that you would be available to start your travel nursing assignment. Recruiters will use your availability date when deciding which assignments to submit you to (that meet your specifications) and when to initiate various parts of the process on their end.
- Start talking to recruiters. Having a recruiter who you trust and who understands what you want to get out of travel nursing is the most important piece of the puzzle when you’re trying to find an assignment you love. You don’t want a recruiter who will submit you to assignments without telling you or a recruiter who isn’t focused on your goals. Find someone who you know will go above and beyond for you. You don’t need to settle on one – working with a couple of recruiters is a good way to make sure you’re catching all the assignments that you’re interested in. This process should take about 1 week if you’re being thorough.
- Once you’ve got one or two recruiters you want to move forward with, it’s time to start submitting your documents. You’ll need to send your recruiter your resume, your references, front & back pictures of your certifications. You’ll also need to complete documents like your Skills Checklist and pre-employment questionnaire. These are typically quick and can be done in as little as 1 day if you already have your documents prepared. Once your recruiter has these documents, they can start submitting you to travel nursing assignments, which means that your travel nursing assignment search can begin!
Getting Submitted to Travel Nursing Assignments
Once you’ve taken care of these three steps, it’s time to start being submitted to assignments by your recruiters. It’s all right to work with multiple recruiters, but make sure you’re aware of where you’re being submitted: being submitted by multiple recruiters to the same assignment is a big no-no, and could hurt your chances at working with these recruiters in the future. You’ll also want to make sure you’re not overwhelming your references with phone calls, so make sure you’re certain about the assignments that you’re submitted to.
Once you’re submitted to an assignment, your references will be contacted, and you’ll be interviewed for the position. If you ace the interview and the facility and your references check out, congrats! You’re on your way to starting your travel nursing assignment! Because you’re working as a travel nurse, the HR duties that would normally be handled by the facility will be handled by your travel nursing agency. This includes processes like background checks, drug screens, and TB tests. These processes should take the agency around 2 weeks to complete.
Once these steps have been cleared, you’re ready to start your assignment. However, your start date is dependent upon the facility that you have joined as a travel nurse. The facility has the final say in your start date, and your recruiter will help you make sure you get to your assignment safely and in a timely manner so that you can start as fast as possible!
These steps are highly variable and can be dramatically different depending on your desired location, specialty, and timeframe. It’s not unheard of for nurses who know exactly what they want to be placed within one business day, but this is very rare. There are also nurses who take six months to complete this process, preparing meticulously until they’re able to travel, and getting an assignment quickly due to their diligence and preparation. The average time it usually takes for a nurse to get placed on an assignment, based on our experience, is 4-5 weeks.
Getting Your Travel Nursing Licenses
You might have noticed something missing in this article that is crucial to travel nursing: licensing. This is one of the hardest parts of travel nursing to account for, as all 50 states are different. If you have the good fortune of living in a compact state (click here for a list of compact states), your license will be accepted in any of the other compact states, and there will be no need for applying for a new license. For nurses who don’t live in compact states, the licensing process is a bit trickier.
Some states are “walk-through” states, meaning you can start an assignment without a license in that state and acquire it during your assignment. Other states will issue your license in under a month, which lines up perfectly with the usual timeline for getting placed on a travel nursing assignment. However, there are a few states that have long turnaround times for licensing, like New York and California. Make sure you plan accordingly if you wish to travel in these states!
This should give you a good idea for how long it takes the average nurse to get placed on a travel nursing assignment. But every nurse’s circumstances are different, and at Health Carousel Travel Nursing, we work with every nurse to ensure you have the best experience possible. You can click here to talk to a recruiter about your unique circumstances, or learn more about the travel nursing basics, like travel nurse pay & housing.