You may be considering working as a travel nurse for the first time, or maybe you are an experienced healthcare traveler. Either way, you may be familiar with traditional travel nursing assignments. Although it can vary, most traditional travel assignments involve working for about 13 weeks. You will usually have six to eight weeks’ notice regarding an assignment. But there are also a couple of other classifications of travel nursing.
Rapid Response Nursing
Rapid response nurses are needed to work almost immediately. They may be given as little as two days’ notice to get to an assignment or as much as a week or two. A facility may need one or more travel nurses urgently due to a sudden fluctuation in patients or staffing. Implementation of new electronic medical records may also cause a need for additional staffing.
If you are considering working as a nurse traveler, you may want to think about taking a rapid response nursing assignment. Since the facility needs a nurse quickly, you may be able to negotiate a better contract than you would with other travel assignments. Additionally, you may have greater flexibility with this type of travel nursing job. Some rapid response nursing assignments may not last 13 weeks, so you may find assignments that are shorter.
On the downside, you have to be willing to jump right in and get started. Since the hospital needs someone right away, they may not provide a lengthy orientation. Rapid response travel nursing may not be right in every situation. For instance, if you plan to travel with children, it can be difficult to get up and go immediately.
Taking a travel assignment as a strike nurse is also an option you may have not considered. Strike nurses may be needed to fill in while regular staff members are off work due to a labor dispute. Hospitals usually have at a least a few weeks’ notice that their staff will be striking, but they will often not finalize a travel contract until they are sure a strike will occur.
Similar to rapid response assignments, strike nurses will not get a lot of notice before an assignment starts. In many situations, you may only be needed for a few days to a few weeks. Strike nurses can often earn top pay due to the severity of the need for the hospital.
The downside of working as a strike nurse is you have to cross the picket line, which some nurses may not feel comfortable with. In addition, you will most likely be given very little orientation.
If you are considering a rapid response or strike nurse assignment, you should be an experienced nurse. The hospital may be short staffed, and your patient workload may be on the high side. The workload combined with a brief orientation may make it difficult for nurses who are inexperienced. It is also helpful to have multiple state nursing licenses or be licensed in a compact state in order to be available as soon as needed.