Category: Advice for healthcare travelers

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Compact State Guide for Travel Nurses

Brunette woman points at a map on a table full of maps
Get out the map! Read on to learn the ins and outs of the Nurse Licensure Compact and how it can benefit you as a travel nurse.

By Kerrey Brennan and Sarah Wengert

As a travel nurse, you can be placed in assignments all over the nation, which means you’ll often be crossing state lines! Prior to the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), travelers often had to acquire a lot of different licenses on a state-by-state basis in order to be able to practice in each state where they took a new assignment. While you may still need to get a specific state license in some states, the NLC is an amazing way to avoid that in the majority of states by getting your compact license.

As you may already know, the NLC is an agreement that allows nurses to practice reciprocally across state lines. It serves to increase access to care while also maintaining public health protection at the state level. The most recent major changes to compact state statuses occurred on January 19, 2018, when the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact went live. While a bundle of state-level updates were introduced then, the premise remains the same: If you are a licensed nurse in a member state (known as a compact state), you are eligible to get your compact license, making you licensed to practice in any of the other states that are also members.

Minor changes and updates to the Nurse Licensure Compact are typical throughout each year, so it can be a dynamic situation, but let’s explore some current and common compact info! 

Which States are Compact States for Nursing?

As of March 2020, there were 34 compact member states. All of these states share the same nursing requirements and recognize an NLC license:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana (implementation on July 1, 2020)
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey (partial implementation)
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

There are also some states that will join the compact pending NLC legislation, including California, Minnesota, Alaska, and several others. For an always-current list of compact states, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) website is an amazing resource. In fact, if you’re serious about travel nursing far and wide, I’d suggest you bookmark that bad boy!

Four Important Things About Your NLC License

Travel nursing can take you all over the country, which can lead to big changes in your living arrangements — for example, say you fall in love with a new city while on assignment and decide to move your permanent address there. Here are a few quick facts to remember about the Nurse Licensure Compact: 

  • You must be a primary resident of a current compact state in order to obtain an NLC license.
  • If you move and set up residency in a different compact state, you are required to obtain compact licensure in your new state.
  • In the same vein, if you acquire your license in a compact state but you are not a resident, you are not mutually recognized by the other NLC states.
  • The Nurse Licensure Compact includes RNs, LPNs, and LVNs, but not advanced practice nurses.

Updated Nurse Licensure Compact Info for the COVID-19 Era

Now, that’s our quick guide to compact states for travel nurses, but as with most things these days, COVID-19 may cause changes in the “normal” NLC process.

If anything, temporary changes due to COVID-19 and the corresponding need to ramp up staffing in certain specialties and regions may mean more flexibility in where you can work via means like emergency licensing waivers, expedited licensing protocol, and temporary licenses. But, changes to nurse licensing protocol and the NLC are even more dynamic and ever-evolving right now, so here are some handy ways to keep yourself in the know on nurse licensing and the NLC as the COVID-19 pandemic continues:

  • The NCSBN, as always, is a great resource here. They’ve established a COVID-19 news page, kind of a central command for related info that includes a bundle of helpful resources for nurses. You can also visit this regularly updated COVID-19 state response PDF, where you can search info state-by-state.  
  • This is also a great time to lean on your recruiter for current, relevant info. At Medical Solutions, we support your recruiter in this area with a large, in-house clinical team and licensure specialists. Our entire team has been receiving daily (sometimes even multiple times a day!) updates on licensing requirements and changes in the era of COVID-19. Please contact your recruiter with any licensing or NLC questions — you can be confident that they have access to the most up-to-date info!
  • Subscribe or continue to follow the Medical Solutions blog for updates on this topic and other major COVID-19 developments, wellness resources for our travelers, and tons more great content for travelers that has nothing to do with the pandemic — like becoming a travel nurse to begin with! 

We hope this quick compact state guide for travel nurses is helpful on your journey! As always, please contact your recruiter or our team with any questions, or, feel free to shout ’em out in the comments. Ready for your next adventure? Explore current job opportunities now

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Ask a Recruiter: Travel Nurse Pay

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We’re bringing back our Ask a Recruiter series! This installment features Medical Solutions’ Charity Crawford, a highly experienced career consultant and team lead, fielding a question on travel nurse pay. Take it away, Charity!

Question: What salary can I expect as a travel nurse? What factors determine this rate?

Answer: One of the perks of traveling is the potential for increased salary. Every assignment will have a different pay rate so it’s important to have an understanding how pay works when you are a traveler so you can make appropriate decisions when choosing companies and assignments.

There are multiple factors that determine how much an assignment will pay; here are a few of the big ones:

1) Location, location, location.

Sometimes, the assignments that pay the least are the ones that are the most attractive from a location standpoint. Take Hawaii for example – it’s a beautiful state with plenty to see and do. It’s usually in the top one or two slots on a traveler’s Top 10 Places to Visit list. I mean, come on, it’s Hawaii. However, because of this, the rates are not as high because there is a lot more competition.  It’s a location assignment and generally not a huge moneymaker. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t travel to Hawaii, but you should certainly plan, save, and budget accordingly and perhaps take assignments in higher paying, less desirable locations in the meantime so you have enough socked away.

2) Speaking of competition…

Many U.S. states are now part of the Compact (or Multistate) License. This means that many travelers now have compact licenses, so their preferences are typically to work in states that are part of the Compact/Multistate membership. This leaves our friends in places like New York, Washington, New Jersey, etc., struggling a bit more to find nurses. The states that are not part of the Compact membership will often have higher rates to attract nurses to those states. Yes, that could mean that you’d have to pick up a couple licenses. But, talk to your recruiter about reimbursement, and just think about how much less competition you’ll have for those positions.

3) Housing and Benefits

Most agencies have a “bucket” they work out of when it comes to structuring pay packages for travelers. Each traveler tends to have his or her own individual needs for housing, insurance, bonuses, etc. The bucket, then, is divided out to help compensate for those needs. You might be a traveler who needs a two-bedroom high-rise apartment, or you might be someone who is just fine with a Super 8. Either is totally fine, just keep in mind that the more your needs cost, more from the bucket will need to be applied toward those needs.

4) Hourly vs taxable

Many travel companies are able to offer non-taxable stipends for housing, meals & incidentals, and travel expenses. When these stipends are included in your pay package, your hourly (or base) taxable wage is often adjusted to allow “room” for these stipends. Depending on how much your hourly is adjusted, you could have less taxes deducted, which in turn means more going in your pocket. You’ll want to speak with your specific recruiter(s) to understand how each individual company structures this.

These are only a few of the factors that can determine your pay. It is difficult to pinpoint an “average” or specific number because every person has their own individual needs and expectations. The most important thing is to figure out your finances and determine what you need to make versus what you’d like to make, then have the conversation with your recruiter so you both have a clear understanding of the expectations before you get too far into the process. Understand that there will be assignments that pay more than others, but you should still come out ahead in the long run.

 

 

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Clinical Corner:Healthcare Staff Falls

Recently, we have received several reports of our healthcare staff having slips, trips and/or falls. It is important to ensure you are taking care of yourself, so you can in turn take care of your patients. Per the CDC’s website the following are the top hazards to healthcare staff:

  1. Fluids on floor
  2. Drains overflowing
  3. Uneven surfaces-indoors
  4. Uneven surfaces-outdoors
  5. Ice/Snow/Rain
  6. Poor lighting
  7. Stairs/lacking handrails
  8. Ladders/stools used to reach items
  9. Cords/tubing
  10. Floor mats not used correctly

It is important to be aware of your surrounding and wear appropriate footwear. If you should have the unfortunate incident of a fall, please make sure you get care for injuries sustained, contact your Career Consultant and complete a report.

For additional information regarding fall prevention please see the following link:

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2011-123/pdfs/2011-123.pdf.

 

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Ask a Travel Nurse Recruiter: What kind of schedules does travel nursing offer?

travel nurse schedulesQ.

What kind of schedules does travel nursing offer? Full-time, part-time, intermittent?

A.

There are a few ways that travel contract schedules are agreed upon.

The short answer is: Travel nursing is usually a full-time commitment.

The long answer: As a travel nurse you should be open to working a standard 13 week contract, but contracts can range anywhere from 4-8 weeks or even longer at 26 weeks or more. As far a weekly schedule, those can be arranged ahead of time and written into a contract but schedules are usually handled during your phone interview with the hospital’s hiring manager.

The schedules range anywhere from an 8, 10 or 12 hour shift with either a 36 or 40 guarantee on your hours worked for the week.

In the past I have had travel nurses work weekends only or even blocking shifts together where they worked 3 days on the floor in a row.  Basically if you need a specific schedule, ask for it, but remember, being as flexible as possible on schedule and shift worked will get you more interviews and open you up to many more job opportunities as well!

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Ask A Travel Nurse Recruiter: How negotiable are travel nursing contracts?

Travel Nursing Contracts

Q.

How negotiable are travel nursing contracts?

A.

A good contract will lay out everything in writing that was discussed about the position when you and your recruiter were in the early stages of submitting your profile for the position. There shouldn’t be any surprises once you receive your contract, and you will want to make sure to read through it thoroughly to ensure the verbiage makes sense to you.

You may or may not have the option to negotiate certain terms of your contract once you have received it. Certain parts of a contract are legal obligations that the company or hospital has in place that cannot be negotiated. Examples of these may include confidentiality agreements, breach of contract, incident reporting, etc. Some facilities have cancellation policies or other requirements for background testing, medical documentation, etc. that are also non-negotiable.

Many travelers want to negotiate the pay once they have received their contracts. Depending on the relationship you have with your recruiter, ideally you should know before receiving the contract what your hourly pay, stipend amounts (if applicable), and overtime pay rate will be. I would definitely encourage you to have an open discussion with your recruiter about your pay and benefit expectations before getting too far into the submittal and interview process. If you wait until you are getting interviews, only to find out that the pay is not going to meet your expectations, it will have been a waste of your time, not to mention the company’s and hospital’s time.

Bottom line, it never hurts to ask for more. But, if you did agree to the terms of the pay before receiving the contract and the company is unable to give you more money after you receive the contract, it would not be professional at that point to turn down the contract for that reason. It’s a different story if the company verbally committed to pay terms before you received the contract and the contract shows something completely different. That’s why it is very important to choose a good recruiter & company early in the game so you have a trust and rapport developed, the lines of communication are completely open, and you know that your best interests are being met.

Saving money tip: The IRS allows for non-taxable meals and incidentals when traveling based on defined IRS guidelines. That information can be found at their website and I encourage all travelers to review it.

 

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Recruiter of the Year

recruiter of the yearIs your recruiter beyond amazing?  Why not show them some love? Healthcare Traveler is hosting it’s 11th annual “Recruiter of the Year” Award.

To vote you must have worked with the recruiter during the 2012 year. Also, the recruiter must currently be employed at a professional placement capacity at a travel staffing agency or travel division. If you would like to nominate your recruiter, click here.

 

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Ask a Travel Nurse Recruiter: What happens when I get sick during my assignment?

travel nurse with question - Ask a Travel Nurse Recruiter: What happens when I get sick during my assignment?Q.

What happens when I get sick during my assignment?

A.

Well, I wish there was a simple answer but as most things in the travel nursing industry, it depends on the hospital.  I can tell you that all hospitals realize that nurses are human and do get sick, especially with their surroundings.  So, if a nurse gets a bug and needs to take a couple days off of work, its usually not a big deal and the nurse is encouraged to stay away from the hospital and patients until they recover.  The only time it could potentially become a problem is if the nurse is sick more than a few days and ends up taking multiple weeks off during an assignment.  At this point the hospital or company will probably want a note from the doctor to justify so much time off.  And by the way, its always good to get a doctors note to show the hospital or company if it’s possible to get one.

As far as pay goes, since the nurse is a contract worker and not on a fixed salary, the hospital will not pay a nurse for any time taken off for being sick.

 

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Tara’s Tips for Nurse Wellness: Getting Rid of Love Handles

nurse wellnessby Tara Trofholz, BS in Exercise Physiology, Team Manager at Medical Solutions

Summer is just around the corner and most people can find an area on their body they would like to see a little smaller, a little firmer, or a little gone.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to spot reduce body fat in any one area or to “tone” fat.  Therefore, in order to make those love handles or hippy hips disappear, we must create an energy deficit.

An energy deficit means that the amount of calories burned exceeds the amount of calories consumed.  Some may respond to this by simply consuming less food (calories),  but exercise not only burns up to 600 calories an hour, it makes us feel good and maintains our overall health.  The key to successfully seeing those hard worked muscles and shedding the pounds is to combine cardiovascular training designed to burn calories, calories and more calories with weight training and a balanced diet.

Fortunately, nurses have a fast paced job that happens to burn a lot of calories.  A 12-hour nursing shift can burn anywhere from 1,000-3,000 calories depending on the activities of that day and your weight. Burning this many calories usually results in you being famished by the end of your shift. It’s tempting to get off and fill yourself with poorly chosen and high caloric fast food, don’t.  Many nurses do not realize come dinner time, they are eating back all the calories they burned that day. Take the time to plan out healthy meals and monitor your calories.

The bottom line is this:  You must burn more calories than you consume in order to see changes in the way your body looks.

 

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Travel Nurse Orientation Guide

Nursing Orientation Booklet

As a Travel Nurse, going from hospital to hospital leaves little time to become acclimated to your new surroundings.  No matter if you are a long-time traveler or a newbie; there will always be something different to learn about each facility and their procedures.

To help make your transition go smoothly, we’ve put together a guide book with all the essential checklists and questions you should ask your hiring managers and recruiters about your new assignment.

Topics covered include:

Questions on facility protocols

Documents checklist

Questions to help with orientation

Orientation worksheet

Visit the Prepare for Travel Nurse Orientation page to download the orientation guide.

 

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Our new Travel Nursing with Pet’s page is here!

Travel Nursing with your PetMedical Solutions is proud to announce that we have just launched our Travel Nursing with Pet’s Page on medicalsolutions.com. Covering information from caring for your pet, pet advice, our pet-friendly housing, pet travel videos and much more. We know you love your pet, and we’re doing all we can to make it easy for you to travel with them. Visit our new Travel Nursing with Pet’s page to learn more.