Flu Season & COVID-19: 5 Tips for Healthcare Travelers Looking for a New Assignment
Summer is over and flu season is quickly approaching. Typically beginning in October through the winter and following spring months, flu season has always been a busy time in healthcare with a high demand for travel nurses and travel allied professionals. This year could look more serious with both COVID-19 and influenza, so hospitals are preparing early for the possible:
- High influx of patients
- Potential early peak in flu cases
- Hospital staff on leave (sick days, PTO, holidays, etc.)
Here are 5 things healthcare travelers should keep in mind to help land the best assignment this flu season.
#1 Are your Profile & Credentials up-to-date?
Healthcare travel jobs that are actively hiring, are also moving quickly. Make sure your professional profile is up-to-date so it can be submitted once a job opens up matching your preferences. Your completed profile includes resume and work experience, licenses, certifications, at least two professional references from within the last 12 months and skills checklist. Hospitals review all profile information to be considered. Whether you’re working with a recruiter or managing the process yourself on a digital platform such as StaffDNA, be proactive.
“The market is moving fast; we’ve seen travel positions receive more than 50 submittals within the first couple of hours after a job is posted,” said Jennifer Pomietlo, VP of Strategic Development at StaffDNA, the fastest-growing healthcare staffing platform. “It’s important for healthcare travelers to be diligent and make sure everything is up-to-date so their profile can be one of the first submitted when jobs open up.”
#2 How flexible are you on location, pay, etc.?
When considering a new travel nursing or allied assignment, it’s crucial to establish your goals and what you’re looking for such as:
- Pay range
- Hospital setting
- Travel experience & lifestyle
- Nearby family or friends
As more nurses and allied professionals are looking to travel for the first time and take advantage of higher pay, the more competition there is to fill those highly desirable positions. If your priority is getting the highest pay package, you may need to be more flexible in terms of location and vice versa. If you’re looking to experience a new adventure in a popular travel destination, you may need to be more flexible on the pay rates.
#3 What’s Your Specialty?
For travel nurses, hospitals typically require at least two years of RN experience in a hospital setting including one year of recent experience in the given specialty. During flu season, specialties such as ICU, MedSurg, Telemetry and ER may be more in demand. Winter months and the end-of-the-year could also bring more scheduled surgeries and a demand for related specialties such as operating room nurses, PACU nurses and certified surgical technicians. Using an app like StaffDNA to set automatic job alerts is helpful to see jobs matching your specialty updated in real-time as hospitals release their needs.
#4 Do You Want to Extend?
If you’re currently on an assignment you love, travelers can always consider extending their contract—for another 4, 6, 13 weeks or more. This option is usually hassle-free; there’s no onboarding fees or orientation burden. If the hospital is willing and wants to extend your contract, they’re typically more willing to negotiate an increase in pay and time-off requests.
#5 Do you have plans for the holidays?
Flu season pairs with popular holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year celebrations. If you’re planning on taking any days off, make sure to request your time-off as early as you can. If you’re interviewing for a new assignment, bring it up with the hiring manager at the facility and get the dates added to your contract. If you’re extending, lock in the dates you want off now. It’s important to note that some facilities may require travelers to work at least a certain number of weekends or holidays. Know the policies in place and review your contract details.
Without a COVID-19 vaccine released yet, the upcoming flu season remains unknown, but if travelers can lock in their plans for their next assignment now, it’ll be an easier transition before rush.
#BONUS TIP: Flu Shots
What is your stance on getting a flu shot? The majority of hospitals across the country are being more adamant than ever about travelers getting this season’s flu vaccine before starting their assignment. If you have any restrictions on getting the vaccination, tell your company before applying to jobs so that they can make sure to only submit to openings that do not require it.
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