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10 questions to ask before accepting a travel nursing assignment

Travel nurse thinking about interview questions

Whether you’re a new traveler or getting ready to start your 10th assignment, asking the right questions during your interview will help you be better prepared for your travel nursing assignment. Here are RNnetwork’s top 10 questions to ask when interviewing for your next travel nursing job.

1. What is the normal nurse to patient ratio?

Asking about the ratio is a great way to ensure that the workload is doable for you! As a nurse, all units you will ever be on will have different expectations of the amount of people you can care for at once. This question allows you to make sure that the hospital operates on or around the same scale you are used to when it comes to patient load.

2. What is the average acuity of the patients on the unit?

Being familiar with the level of care needed for the patients you will be dealing with is huge! The answer to this question will help you determine if the average patient has things you are used to treating, or if this facility’s acuity may be better for a later assignment once you have more experience.

3. What type of patients do you have on your floor?

This is a great question to ask because it familiarizes you with the unit and what they typically see. For example, as a MedSurg RN, you don’t want to land in an assignment that has a ton of trach patients if you haven’t ever seen trachs. Asking this question will also help ensure that the patient type is one you are familiar with.

4. Will I be able to pick up any overtime hours?

Want to make even more than your fabulous package is already paying? Great! Ask about overtime! It’s imperative that you always ask what is available in terms of OT. Knowing the answer will allow you to let the nurse manager know if you’re wanting and willing to work overtime.

Nurse asking questions about scheduling

5. How is the scheduling done?

Scheduling is different for every single facility. Some allow blocking your schedule together so that your days are in a row; some do not. Some require working weekends; some save weekends for permanent employees. Some allow you to self-schedule; some have a scheduler on site. Asking the nurse manager about scheduling will ensure that you know how they plan shifts and who to go to should a scheduling issue arise.

6. I need a specific date off, can you accommodate me?

This is a big one! If you need to take time for a pre-planned day off, the key time to let the facility know is during the interview. If you wait to ask until you get the job offer, the facility may decide to pull the contract because it was not disclosed in the interview. Don’t worry — these requests are almost always approved, but asking up front allows the facility to plan for when their traveler will be out.

7. Do you float your travelers? If so, to what units?

There is nothing worse than getting to your first day of a travel assignment and finding out that the MedSurg unit you are on also floats their RNs to Med-Tele, where you need your ACLS. This question is important for two reasons:

  • You typically must have a year or more experience in the past five years in whatever specialty you are working in. So, if you arrive as a MedSurg nurse and they are floating you to Med-Tele, there is a chance we will need to get in touch with the facility and get you out of the float pool because you cannot practice in a specialty you have never done.
  • For patient safety and your own, you don’t want to be doing something you have never done. Therefore, this is a quick but very important question to go over with them.

8. What charting systems do you use?

This question is important to ask. Maybe you’re very comfortable with Epic or Cerner; however, the hospital you just interviewed with only uses Meditech. You can ask your recruiter this question before submission to ensure you are only submitted to facilities that use the charting systems you know, or that they will provide you with the training needed to learn the system.

9. Is parking provided or do I have to pay for it?

Parking at the facility often comes at a cost for the traveler, especially in big cities. You’ll want to ask what the parking situation is so your recruiter can be aware of any charges you may need help with and build them into your pay package whenever possible.

10. Is housing hard to find in the area?

RNnetwork has an amazing housing team, but if you are planning on taking the housing stipend and finding housing on your own, it is imperative to ask about housing in the area for travelers. It can be difficult to find something that is both affordable and livable in some areas. You can also ask the interviewer for suggestions to help you find the best housing options for travelers.

No matter what you want to know, no question is a stupid question to ask in an interview. It’s your one chance to talk to your potential future manager and to learn all that you can about the hospitals you are interested in going to — so take advantage of it! Your recruiter typically will send you an interview preparation email ahead of time with suggested questions and important points to go over. Most importantly, don’t be nervous and just BE YOURSELF! You will do great; we believe in you!

What questions do you always ask in a travel nurse interview? Share yours in the comments below.

About the author

Lauren Camino

Lauren Camino

Lauren is a travel nurse recruiter at RNnetwork who writes in her free time. She enjoys traveling, cooking, spending time with family, and working out. Lauren loves creating new things and is obsessed with margaritas and the ocean!

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