Most of us know the pros (Money! Traveling to exotic locales! Meeting new and interesting people!) and the cons (Loneliness. Separation from loved ones. Less than desirable working conditions) of travel nursing. These are the obvious ones, but talking to travel nurses, something else came up a lot in our discussions: the lack of professional local support.
Many people who go into travel nursing are highly energetic go-getters, and most are the types who love to be involved in groups. They found, however, it could be difficult to participate in local professional groups.
This bothered me, so I decided to investigate for myself. I turned first to my favorite tool Google, and I did indeed have a difficult time finding information on local resources for travel nurses. What I found was a lot of websites of companies that hire travel nurses, so I decided to contact some of them and ask about local professional development for their traveling nurses.
I got some information from these informal interviews, which I am going to impart to you, saving you the trouble of contacting them yourselves. I spoke to two recruiters from two different companies. The first recruiter did not want to talk for very long after I explained I was not interested in signing up for a traveling contract at this time. I did not get much information from her. I learned my lesson, and for the second conversation I said I was “exploring support at travel nurse agencies” and asked her about local professional organizations for travel nurses on assignment.
She suggested stuff I had already thought of – contact the state board of nursing, and become a member of one or more of the nurse’s associations that are relevant to your specialty or specialties. Other than that, she did not have much good information, which sort of surprised me. I thought the recruiter would be a plethora of information about local professional organizations while on assignment. I decided to think outside of my usual suspects, and about my lawyer friend, Alex.
Alex was underemployed for years after graduating law school, mostly because of poor economic conditions and an inability to pass a state bar (she finally passed it after 3 tries – Yay!) She is ballsy, almost pushy, and she did a lot of cold calling to lawyers, asking them to meet with her and help her out. She never forgot a networking contact, and in addition to traditional criminal and civil lawyers, she contacted lawyers working for banks, lobbying firms…you name it, she talked to them.
This persistence opened up a career path she hadn’t even known about, and now she works for veterans, fighting to get them their social security benefits. She signed up for every (free) professional organization in a 3 hour radius, and constantly attended networking events. Now, these contacts help her often when she has a tricky claim, and she loves her career. She had to really put herself out there and get involved in local organizations, and she would often persuade someone she had met to take her to a meeting and introduce her around.
What fascinated me watching Alex was how many people she had never met, or met briefly, were willing and remain willing to help her. She started with a few local professional organizations, and her participation and networking contacts grew organically from there. It was easy for her to get involved, and it is easy for traveling nurses to get involved in local professional groups. Talk to other local professionals and ask them to take you to meetings if they are participants. It is a great way to network, to stay plugged in professionally, and even have some fun and make some friends. Hey, if a lawyer can do it, surely you can to!