nurse getting out of operating room and removing mask
Contract Nursing August 12, 2021

By Melissa Wirkus Hagstrom, contributor

4 ‘Must-haves’ for Quick-Start Travel Nurse Contracts

Adaptable. Flexible. Ready for change. These are just a few of the characteristics that embody a nurse who can successfully navigate quick-start travel nursing jobs.

While traditional travel nursing assignments are planned several weeks in advance, crisis response travel nursing and other assignments with quicker-than average starts are a critical facet of the healthcare industry – now more than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of quick-start travel nursing contracts and demand has remained strong.

Even beyond the coronavirus and other crises, these short-term assignments can involve EMR conversions and implementations, project-based assignments, or critical staffing support for overworked nursing staff or to deal with an increasing patient census.

As the name implies, these assignments can start very quickly, with the majority of contracts allowing a small window for preparation. Nurses interested in using their skills for crisis response travel nursing and other quick-start contract nursing assignments need to be ready to go with just a few days’ notice.

“Nurses usually need to be prepared to travel within 7-14 days,” said Kari Cunningham, divisional vice president at NurseChoice, a contract nursing agency that specializes in crisis response and rapid response assignments.

“NurseChoice nurses sign a contract and they can get everything done quickly,” she added. “With the help of our new AMN Passport app, it’s possible for them to get all of their documents in, schedule their drug screen and do their background check in a 24-48-hour period.”

4 necessities for quick-start travel nursing

1. Current nursing license and documentation

Nurses who have the appropriate paperwork and other documentation in place can get started on a quick-start travel nursing assignment with little red tape. Some important items to have at the ready include:

  • Immunizations and other appropriate medical records
  • Copies of state nursing licenses and certifications
  • Travel documents (IDs, insurance cards, etc.)
  • Completed background check and drug screen (fast-tracked with the AMN Passport app)

A lot has changed with nurse licensing requirements during the pandemic, and many states have expedited procedures due to emergency orders. But those changes may not last. Several states also participate in the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which can streamline licensing in participating compact states. Contact the appropriate board of nursing about state-specific licensing requirements, or connect with a NurseChoice placement specialist to learn more.

  1. An attitude of self-confidence, positivity and flexibility

Crisis response travel nursing requires superior clinical skills and the ability to navigate challenging circumstances. Whether nurses are being brought in due to an emergency or staff turnover, they are being brought in to provide relief. These situations require a positive outlook and the ability to quickly adapt to change and shifting priorities.

These travel nursing contracts are often fast-paced, and the RNs who excel will understand the urgency and act with a calm demeanor under pressure. According to Cunningham, permanent nurses at assignment facilities are often overworked and need a break, and thus welcome the assistance of capable travel nurses.

“Travel nurses are able to help staff reduce their patient load, minimize overtime, and perhaps take some time off to rejuvenate. While they are helping improve patient care, travelers are also helping their nursing colleagues, as well,” she noted.

Confidence in your nursing skills and the willingness to contribute where needed will make it easier to step into these urgent situations.

"You may have higher patient ratios, and you may have to get on a plane and find your own hotel,” said Danielle Castle, director of recruitment for NurseChoice. “You need to be willing to be independent in the sense you are willing to do all of the things that are needed when you are asked to do them."

Experience with a variety of EMR systems can also help when transitioning to a new facility, but Cunningham noted that NurseChoice offers training modules for travelers who might be working on a new system.

  1. An open mind

Being open to travel where you are needed is an important mindset to have when you are looking at quick-start contract nursing. Demand can pop up anywhere and nurses who are open in terms of location can find more success and help more people than if they are locked in to a specific region or location.

“A nurse who wants to make the most money can’t be location-specific,” Cunningham explained. “The demand is really high right now. It’s a good time to be a travel nurse.”

  1. A quick exit strategy

If you are considering crisis response nursing jobs or other rapid response contracts, you’ll need to be ready to leave your home situation quickly. That means making preparations with family, roommates or pets for your departure.

Do you have people living in your home who can take care of your pets and plants, or people who can help out for the duration of your assignment? If there is anything that could delay your start, it will affect your ability to accept certain contracts, so anticipate any snags and plan ahead.

You’ll also need to be ready to pack up quickly, without taking too many things, so preparing a packing checklist ahead of time can be a big help.

Traditional travel nursing vs. quick-start contracts

Quick-start nursing contracts differ from traditional travel nursing assignments in several key ways. Traditional assignments are often for 13 weeks of duration and are planned several weeks in advance based on known or anticipated circumstances. Travel nurses in these situations are often able to book these assignments four to eight weeks or more in advance.

Crisis response travel nursing jobs and rapid response jobs are usually needed due to unforeseen circumstances, either from a disaster or other crisis (like the pandemic), or due to a sudden change in patient census, staff vacancies, or projects that require more assistance than anticipated. These nurse contracts have more flexibility in length and may have shorter assignments available, but could require nurses to start within one or two weeks after signing the contract. Because of the urgent need, these assignments usually pay higher travel nurse salaries, as well.

“The rapid response nurse is still dealing with a crisis and it may not be COVID-related per se, although it very much could be, especially dealing with the aftermath of COVID,” Castle explained. “[Facilities] could be short-staffed, they could be opening a new unit, they could be dealing with a lot of leave on their unit, whereas in a traditional assignment they are still filling a need but may be less urgent or less of a crisis.”

Quick-start travel nursing with NurseChoice

As a travel nurse with the ability to respond quickly, your experience and skills are needed to help healthcare professionals and hospitals find relief from crises, emergencies and staffing challenges. In addition to the satisfaction that comes from making a difference for patients and healthcare professionals throughout the country, these rapid response contracts offer excellent compensation and benefits.

When you take a travel assignment with NurseChoice, you will have access to our high-value benefits package that allows you to choose a short-term travel nursing job that suits your lifestyle and financial goals. We offer a comprehensive list of perks including guaranteed work weeks, free CEUs, free high-quality housing or a housing stipend, referral bonuses and more.

If you’re ready to hit the road and make an immediate impact, connect with a NurseChoice recruitment specialist today!

Related:

Top 10 Rookie Travel Nurse Mistakes
10 Quick-start Tips for New Travel Nurses
How the AMN Passport App Can Manage Your Assignments

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