Pre-Assignment Checklist for Travel Healthcare

Author: Coast Medical Service

Posted: October 16, 2023


Pre-Assignment Checklist for Travel Healthcare

Get Yourself Prepared for Your Travel Healthcare Assignment!

Picture this: You’re about to embark on a new travel healthcare adventure as a travel nurse or allied healthcare professional, living in a different city, working in a new healthcare facility, and meeting incredible people from all walks of life. Travel healthcare assignments offer travel nurses and allied healthcare professionals a unique blend of professional growth and personal exploration, but to ensure a great experience, it’s crucial to be prepared.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to take before starting your next travel nursing or travel allied healthcare assignment. From paperwork and housing to packing and mental preparation, we’ve got you covered.

Step 1: Gather Your Documents

Before you set off on your travel healthcare journey, it’s vital to ensure travel nurses and allied health professionals have their documents in order. At Coast Medical Service, you’ll have a dedicated Compliance Specialist to help you ensure your list is taken care of. This includes:

  • Licenses and Certifications: Make sure your nursing license and any relevant certifications are up-to-date. Each state may have specific requirements, so ensure you meet them.
  • Immunization Records: You’ll likely need to provide proof of immunizations like MMR, Varicella, and Hepatitis B.
  • Background Checks: Many facilities will require a background check, so be prepared to provide this.
  • Credentialing: Complete any facility-specific credentialing requirements. This could include competency tests or orientations.
  • Health Records: Carry a copy of your medical history, just in case you need it while on assignment.


Step 2: Research Your Destination

Travel assignments often take you to new places, and it’s essential to familiarize yourself with your destination before starting your travel nursing or allied healthcare assignment:

  1. Local Laws and Regulations: Understand the local laws and regulations, especially related to your profession. Different states have varying rules for healthcare practitioners.
  2. Cost of Living: Research the cost of living in your new location. Housing, transportation, and groceries can differ significantly from one place to another.
  3. Climate: Prepare for the weather. Pack clothing appropriate for the climate you’ll be working in.
  4. Housing: Make sure your agency is maximizing your per diem allowances for housing (and food). This is considered tax-free and drastically increases your take-home pay. Additionally, if you don’t spend it, you still get it, allowing you to save it for other fun things. If your agency, like Coast, has housing partners that allow you to receive discounts on temporary housing, make sure to research those options!
  5. Local Attractions: Get excited about your destination! Look into the local attractions, restaurants, and activities to enjoy during your downtime. Take advantage of Coast Medical Service’s partnership with Working Advantage and save on great experiences!
  6. Transportation: Plan how you’ll get around the city. Will you need a car, or can you rely on public transportation?


Step 3: Budget Your Finances

Money management is critical for travel nurses and allied healthcare professionals on any travel assignment:

  • Budgeting: Create a detailed budget for your assignment. Consider housing, transportation, food, healthcare expenses, and personal expenses.
  • Tax Considerations: Understand the tax implications of working in different states. You may need to file state taxes in addition to federal taxes.
  • Emergency Fund: Build an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses, such as car repairs or medical bills.
  • Retirement: Check with your agency about retirement plans such as a Traditional or ROTH 401k. Some agencies, like Coast, offer these plans, while others do not. Make sure you’re planning for your future.


Step 4: Plan Your Travel

Logistics play a big part in making your travel healthcare assignment a success. Upfront planning will help you make sure that your travel experience goes off without a hitch and you can begin your travel nursing or allied healthcare assignment without being stressed out from getting to your new location:

  • Transportation: Arrange your travel to the assignment location. Determine whether you’ll drive, fly, or take another mode of transportation.
  • Luggage: Pack wisely. Bring essential clothing, personal items, and any work-related equipment or tools.
  • Accommodations: Confirm your housing arrangement. Make sure you have all the details, including check-in procedures.
  • Arrival Details: Coordinate your arrival with the facility. Confirm the start date and time.
  • Backup Plan: Always have a Plan B in case of travel delays or unexpected issues.

Step 5: Handle Your Personal Affairs

Taking care of personal matters before you leave will help you focus on your travel nursing or allied health assignment:

  • Mail and Bills: Set up a plan to handle your mail and bills while you’re away. You might want to forward your mail or set up online bill payments.
  • Pet Care: If you have pets, arrange for their care during your absence if you are unable to bring them with you.
  • Family Matters: Ensure your family knows how to reach you and have emergency contact information.
  • Legal Documents: Create a file with important legal documents, like your living will and power of attorney. Make sure you have these stored in a safe location that friends or family are aware of.
  • Health Insurance: Review your health insurance coverage. Determine if you need additional coverage while on assignment.


Step 6: Mental Preparation

Travel assignments can be both exhilarating and challenging. Mentally preparing for the experience is crucial:

    1. Expect the Unexpected: Keep in mind that every assignment is unique. Embrace change and adaptability.
    2. Stay Positive: A positive attitude can make a significant difference in your experience. Be open to new people and new experiences.
    3. Network: Start building connections with colleagues and locals from day one. They can provide valuable insights and support.
    4. Self-Care: Prioritize self-care. Make time for relaxation, exercise, and activities that bring you joy.
    5. Set Goals: Define what you want to achieve during your assignment, both professionally and personally.


Step 7: Be Ready for Work

Now, let’s shift our focus to your work:

  • Facility Orientation: Attend the facility orientation and training sessions with an open mind. It’s an excellent opportunity to get to know your new workplace.
  • Learn the System: Familiarize yourself with the facility’s electronic health records system and any other software you’ll use.
  • Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you’re unsure about anything. It’s better to seek clarification than to make assumptions.
  • Shadow Colleagues: Spend time observing your colleagues in action. It’s a great way to learn the facility’s culture and practices.
  • Prepare for Your First Shift: The night before your first shift, double-check your uniform, ID badge, and any required equipment.


Step 8: Enjoy Your Assignment

Your travel healthcare assignment is a unique opportunity to explore new places and grow as a professional:

  • Stay Curious: Keep a sense of curiosity about your new surroundings. Explore local attractions, try new foods, and embrace the local culture.
  • Balancing Work and Play: Work hard, but don’t forget to enjoy your downtime. Create a healthy work-life balance.
  • Document Your Experience: Consider keeping a travel journal or a blog to document your adventures and experiences.
  • Stay Connected: Keep in touch with family and friends back home. Video calls can bridge the distance.
  • Seek Feedback: Throughout your assignment, ask for feedback from colleagues and supervisors. It’s an excellent way to continuously improve.


Step 9: Plan for the End

Time flies, and before you know it, your travel nursing or allied health contract will come to a close:

  • Give Notice or Extend: Provide adequate notice to your facility and agency if you plan to end your assignment. If you want to extend your current travel, discuss it with your recruiter and they will help you facilitate the process. On that call, your recruiter will coach you through necessary steps and work with the facility to get you that extension!
  • Paperwork: Make sure all necessary paperwork, evaluations, and timesheets are completed.
  • Feedback: Offer feedback about your experience to your agency. Your insights can help improve the process for future travelers.
  • Future Planning: Decide whether you want to extend your assignment, find a new one, or return to your home base

Step 10: Reflect and Prepare for the Next Adventure

As one assignment nears its end, another opportunity begins. Take time to reflect on your experience. Think about where you’d like to travel to next and what you’d like to accomplish.

If you feel it’s time to explore other opportunities, have that conversation with your recruiter. Make sure you’re very candid about what you liked and didn’t like in the previous assignment so they can make sure to find an opportunity that allows you to accomplish your goals.


Next Steps for Your Travel Healthcare Journey

Now that you have all the tools in your tool belt to begin your journey as a travel nurse or allied healthcare professional, it’s time to begin your search. Start by looking at Coast’s job feed which offers thousands of high-paying travel nursing or allied healthcare assignments.

If you’re not sure where to begin your search, that’s ok. Click here to submit your resume to Coast & connect with one of our awesome recruiters. The first step will be to discuss your goals, then work with you to find the perfect assignment.

And if you know of someone that’s looking to start their own travel healthcare journey, make sure you submit them via Coast Medical Service’s referral page. After they complete their first travel nursing or allied healthcare assignment, you’ll earn up to $1000 and they’ll earn an additional $500! It only takes a few seconds and you can refer as many professionals as you’d like!

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