The Complete Guide to Starting Your First Healthcare Travel Assignment
August 17, 2023
Traveling with a healthcare staffing agency offers great opportunities for personal and professional growth, regardless of your role in the healthcare field. Before diving into your exciting travel assignment, it’s important to be well-prepared. In fact, getting ready for a travel assignment might demand a bit more preparation than starting a new job down the street. But rest assured, the extra effort is entirely worthwhile! Careful planning is key to making the most out of your journey and ensuring a successful and fulfilling experience.
Don’t worry— we’re here to guide you.
Whether you’re considering travel opportunities or have just signed your first travel contract, our step-by-step guide will help you feel confident and fully prepared for your first assignment.
Before you set foot in your new destination, make sure to research these elements of your new location to adapt quickly and make the most of your healthcare travel experience:
Check if your bank has branches or partner banks in the area for easy access to your finances during your assignment.
Verify which doctors and hospitals are covered by your insurance in the assignment location for seamless healthcare access if needed.
Climate and Weather
Familiarize yourself with the region’s climate and weather patterns to pack appropriate clothing and essentials.
Cost of Living
Evaluate the cost of living, including housing, transportation, groceries, and utilities, to effectively plan your budget. Keep in mind that you can always turn to your recruiter or staffing specialist for assistance or suggestions whenever necessary!
Explore available transportation options, such as public transit, rideshares, or bike-sharing programs, for convenient navigation. If you anticipate the need for a car during your travels, make sure to plan ahead and check out car rental options and potential discount programs.
Discover top attractions, landmarks, and hidden gems in the area. Make a list of must-see places and unique local experiences to explore during your free time.
As a healthcare traveler, maintaining up-to-date licenses and certifications is essential for complying with local regulations.
Note: You can rely on your healthcare staffing agency’s expertise to guide you through the licensing and credentialing process. They have established relationships with facilities and can help expedite the necessary procedures, equipping you with the information and support needed to navigate this process with clarity and confidence.
Research the specific licensing requirements for healthcare professionals in your destination state or country. Determine if you need to obtain additional licenses or if your current ones are valid for the duration of your assignment.
Understand the credentialing process at the healthcare facility where you’ll be working. This involves verifying your qualifications, background checks, and other necessary paperwork.
Gather Necessary Documents
Compile all the necessary documents for licensing and credentialing, such as copies of your degree, certifications, professional references, and any other paperwork required by the facility or local authorities.
Credentials & Continuing Education
Stay informed about any continuing education requirements or updates in your field, as these may be essential for maintaining your licensure during and after your travel assignment (EX: ACLS/BLS)
Driver’s License and ID
Ensure that your driver’s license or state ID is up to date and set reminders for their expiration dates. Also, have essential identification documents, such as your social security card, military ID, passport, or at least one other acceptable form of identification.
Be mindful of the processing times for licenses and credentials. Start the application process early to ensure everything is in order before your assignment begins. Track the applications you submit and save all receipts and confirmations. For example, FBI fingerprinting can take up to 4-6 weeks (about 1 and a half months) to process.
Stay organized by keeping all your licensing and credentialing documents in a secure and easily accessible folder. This practice will prove beneficial not only for your current assignment but also for future ones. Consider setting reminders on your phone or noting expiring credentials in your planner to ensure they stay up-to-date and readily available when needed.
As a healthcare traveler, your living situation plays a significant role in determining the overall satisfaction and success of your assignment. A comfortable and well-suited home-away-from-home provides a haven where you can unwind after long shifts, recharge for the next day, and immerse yourself in the local community.
To ensure a smooth experience, here are the steps you can take to secure the ideal housing and accommodation during your healthcare travel assignment:
Explore Housing Options
Research short-term rentals, extended-stay hotels, or company-provided housing to find the best fit for your needs. Don’t hesitate to ask your recruiter or staffing specialist for guidance or recommendations! You can also join healthcare travel groups on social media to connect with peers who have been in your footsteps and gain valuable insights from their experiences.
Investigate neighborhood safety and crime statistics to ensure your chosen accommodation is in a secure area.
Set a Budget
Determine your housing budget by considering rental prices and added costs such as utilities and parking fees. Factor in the travel stipend (AKA housing/board assistance) from your agency when setting your budget.
Negotiate Lease Agreements
Prior to signing any lease agreement, negotiate terms and carefully review the document for clarity, flexibility, and any potential added fees.
Notify Utilities and Change Address
Set up utilities in your new residence and notify relevant parties of your change of address to ensure a smooth transition.
Document Condition and Take Photos
Upon arrival, thoroughly inspect your new accommodation for any pre-existing damages. Take detailed photographs and document any issues to avoid disputes later.
Keep Emergency Contacts Handy
Store important phone numbers, such as your landlord, property manager, healthcare facility, and local emergency services, in a readily accessible place for quick reference.
Don’t Forget the Details
Consider amenities like a comfortable bed, Wi-Fi, and kitchen facilities to ensure your stay is as comfortable as possible.
Pro Tip: Consider Using a PO Box! Renting a PO box ensures the security and privacy of your personal mail while you’re away on your travel assignment, providing a stable mailing address for important documents and packages, even if you’re frequently changing locations.
Packing efficiently will save you from unnecessary stress and ensure you have everything you need during your assignment.
Use this checklist to make sure you don’t forget any essentials:
Scrubs, uniforms, work clothes, and any necessary tools specific to your role.
Casual, dressy, sleepwear, and exercise clothes, along with undergarments and socks.
Hats, jewelry, and your favorite accessories.
Shampoo, conditioner, toiletries, hair brush, nail trimmer, nail file, and other grooming supplies.
First Aid Kit
Mini first aid kit, prescription & over-the-counter medications.
Books, puzzles, yoga mat, or other hobby items for downtime.
Remember all chargers and necessary accessories for your electronic devices.
Licenses and Certifications
Ensure you have copies of your professional credentials.
Carry relevant medical records and necessary documentation for your healthcare practice.
Identification & Important Documents
Remember to bring essential identification documents such as your driver’s license, passport, and social security card. Don’t forget your health insurance cards, car insurance/registration documents, and any other important items you’ll need during your assignment.
- Use packing cubes, compression bags, organizers, or other bags to keep your belongings organized and easily accessible.
- Save space by rolling clothes instead of folding them and nesting smaller items inside larger ones (e.g., stuff socks and underwear into your shoes).
- Create a capsule wardrobe by selecting clothing items and shoes that can be mixed and matched.
- Use cable organizers or twist ties to keep cords and cables organized and tangle-free.
Check if your prescription medications can be filled at 90-day intervals to avoid refills while on short contracts.
Managing your finances effectively is crucial during your healthcare travel assignment. Consider the following key points to ensure financial stability and peace of mind during your journey:
Understand tax implications
Familiarize yourself with the tax regulations of your assignment location and consult a financial advisor if needed.
Be aware of your healthcare staffing agency’s reimbursement policies for expenses incurred during your travel assignment.
Keep meticulous records
Keep track of your expenses and necessary documentation for potential reimbursement claims.
Create a budget for your assignment
Tailor your budget to the cost of living in your assignment location to manage expenses responsibly. Factor in your agency’s travel stipend, as well as expenses for entertainment, amenities (e.g., gym, spa), groceries, shopping, and recreational activities.
Utilize financial planning resources
Explore banking options with low or no-fee transactions and utilize helpful financial planning tools for better management.
Staying connected with loved ones and your healthcare travel agency is essential for a smooth and enriching travel experience. Follow these key steps to stay in touch:
Choose suitable phone plans and internet options
Research phone plans and internet providers that offer good coverage and affordable rates in your assignment location.
Utilize communication apps
Make use of messaging apps and video calling platforms to stay connected with family, friends, and colleagues. Schedule regular chat sessions in advance to prioritize time with your loved ones and alleviate potential feelings of loneliness or homesickness.
Get creative with connecting
Host virtual dates, game nights, or virtual parties to bridge the distance and keep your relationships strong. Finding fun and innovative ways to interact can enhance your overall travel experience.
Maintain open communication with your agency
Stay in touch with your healthcare travel agency for any work-related concerns or support you may need during your assignment. They are there to assist you every step of the way!
As you embark on this exciting journey, remember that taking care of yourself is fundamental to providing the best care to others and making the most of your travel experience. Prioritize your well-being during your healthcare travel assignment with these essential health and safety tips.
Adapting to New Environments
Give yourself time to adjust to the new surroundings, culture, and routines. Be patient with yourself as you settle in, and don’t hesitate to ask for help or advice from locals or fellow travelers.
To maintain balance and overall well-being, explore stress management techniques that work best for you. Regular exercise, meditation, yoga, or engaging in hobbies can provide a much-needed respite from the demands of your work and daily life.
Get enough rest, eat nutritional meals, and stay hydrated. Taking care of your physical and emotional health will help you stay energized and focused on providing the best care to your patients.
Seeking Support When Needed
Don’t hesitate to seek support and connect with others during your healthcare travel experience. Building strong relationships with colleagues and fellow travelers can provide a valuable support system— joining social media groups for healthcare travelers can help with this as well! If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or struggling emotionally, reach out to friends, family, or mental health professionals. Your well-being is a priority, and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Building strong connections and networking during your healthcare travel assignment can enhance your professional growth and open doors to exciting new opportunities. As you immerse yourself in a new environment, take advantage of the following networking tips to foster meaningful relationships and expand your network:
Join Local Professional Organizations
Research and identify relevant professional organizations in your field that operate in your assignment location. Many organizations for healthcare professionals, like the AANP (American Association of Nurse Practitioners) or the ACMA (American Case Management Association), have State or Local chapters— look into ways you can get involved on the go! You can gain access to industry events, networking opportunities, and resources specific to your healthcare specialty. Attend local chapter meetings, workshops, and seminars to meet like-minded professionals and stay up to date with the latest industry trends.
Attend Conferences/Webinars or Workshops
Look out for healthcare-related conferences, webinars, and workshops happening in your area. These events offer an excellent platform to network with fellow healthcare professionals, learn from experts in your field, and exchange valuable insights. Engaging in these activities can expand your knowledge base and create meaningful connections with colleagues in the industry.
Connect with Colleagues at Your Assignment Location
Embrace opportunities to connect with your colleagues at the healthcare facility where you’re working. Take an active interest in building rapport with your team, fellow healthcare providers, and support staff. Engaging in conversations, sharing experiences, and demonstrating your dedication to patient care can help you build lasting professional relationships.
Utilize Online Networking Platforms
Social media and professional networking platforms offer powerful tools to connect with professionals worldwide. Join healthcare-related groups and forums on platforms like LinkedIn, where you can take part in discussions, share your expertise, and connect with others in your field. Engaging in online networking expands your reach beyond your immediate location and allows you to build relationships with professionals from various backgrounds.
Seek Mentorship Opportunities
Mentors can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout your healthcare career. Look for opportunities to connect with experienced professionals who can offer insights, share their knowledge, and help you navigate the challenges and opportunities in your field. Mentorship relationships can be a source of encouragement, motivation, and career advice.
Attend Social Events and Community Activities
Participating in local social events and community activities is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and build relationships outside of your professional circle. Engaging with the community can also create opportunities for meaningful interactions and potentially lead to new friendships and connections.
Be Proactive and Approachable
Take the initiative to introduce yourself to new people, strike up conversations, and express your interest in learning from others. Being approachable and friendly will make it easier for colleagues and professionals to connect with you.
From researching your assignment location to securing accommodation, planning finances, prioritizing health, and safety, and fostering meaningful connections, this comprehensive guide equips you with the tools and knowledge to embark on a successful and fulfilling healthcare travel assignment. As you get ready for your first healthcare travel assignment, remember to approach it with enthusiasm, preparedness, and an open mindset. We’re here to support you every step of the way.
Ready to take the leap?
Apply today and start your adventure with GHR by your side.
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