By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
Every travel nurse I have chatted with has a special bucket list just for their time as a traveler. Items on this list can range from exotic vacations to spending an extended time living in a particular city, to saving enough money to pay cash for a home. I have talked about the importance of having goals for your travel career, but sometimes our path to those goals can be a little different than we initially envisioned when we set out to work as travel nurses.
The catch with travel nursing is, even if you want to go somewhere, there are a few pieces that have to come together to determine if you can.
First, the particular facility or city has to have open needs for temporary workers. Second, you have to be available to work (i.e. not in the middle of a different contract) when they start looking for travelers to fill those needs.
Rise before the fall
When the stars align, and your dream job is open at the exact time you are finishing one contract and looking for the next, it feels like fate. Surely, this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. You finally get to live in that special city, or cut back on your drive home on days off, or get to say you worked in the best hospital for your specialty in the entire nation.
Because this has been a goal for as long as you have wanted to travel, you are prepared when the opportunity presents itself. You submit your application as fast as humanly possible, and then you wait. You try to go about your normal routine, all while keeping your ringer on high and your phone fully charged just knowing that call is going to come through for an interview.
Two days pass, then a week, and then you start to realize—the call isn’t coming. A quick check-in with your recruiter confirms the sinking feeling in your gut; the job has closed, and the need was filled by a different candidate.
This feels like a crushing blow. You did everything right, stayed prepared, and still missed out. There is no one at fault for this other than a little bad luck. But it doesn’t make missing out on your dream assignment any easier to swallow.
Recovery and analysis
If this happens to you, take a deep breath and clear your head a bit. There are bound to be other options, and travel healthcare often involves regrouping every once in awhile.
Take a look at the facilities that have worked well for you so far. What do they have in common? This could help you pinpoint specifics you love about a hospital and help you narrow your search. Consider things like hospital size, uniform requirements, and teaching vs. non-teaching facilities. You can likely find a facility that has a lot of similar qualities to the one you missed out on, even if it doesn’t exactly hit the mark.
Next, think about your preferences when it comes to where you wanted to live for that dream assignment. You may not be able to score that perfect Honolulu weather, but maybe something in Southern California will give you a nice mix of beach and city similar to what the other assignment offered.
Super bummed about missing a job in NYC? Take a look at other big cities like Boston or Seattle. They might not have the exact feel of the Big Apple, but they will still have their own energy and vibe that you can embrace along with the amenities of a big city, like sports teams, concerts, and up-and-coming restaurants.
Enjoying the journey
Be willing to embrace the new adventure even if it wasn’t exactly what you imagined. By going in with a more open mind, you increase the likelihood that you will enjoy your experience and make it through the backup assignment in a positive way.
Remember—this isn’t the last chance for your travel nurse dream job. If they need travelers once, there is a great chance they will need a traveler again. Some experienced travelers will tell you it took five or more submissions to jobs in their goal location before they actually found placement.
Do not let missing out the first time get to you too much, just stay prepared in the hopes that the need will line up with your availability again soon.
Being shot down for your dream job can be tough. You may have to rearrange plans or make a few compromises for your next assignment. When this happens, take a step back and remember why you started traveling. There are lots of other ways to make progress in your travel career, and each location will be a chance for you to grow and learn.
Alex McCoy currently works as a pediatric travel nurse. She has a passion for health and fitness, which led her to start Fit Travel Life in 2016. She travels with her husband, their cat, Autumn and their dog, Summer. She enjoys hiking, lifting weights, and trying the best local coffee and wine.
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