Prime travel nursing positions often fill quickly, so it’s important to present your best self from the outset. We asked three hospital recruiters to share what they look for when screening and interviewing candidates for travel openings at their facilities. Here are the six things hospital recruiters look for in a travel nurse:
1. Meets minimum requirements
First and foremost, ensure your experience and background meet the minimum requirements for the position of interest and note that some requirements may vary by facility or assignment.
Amber Moxley, RN and contract nurse recruiter for Navicent Health, says they typically require 1-2 years of experience, ACLS certification, and drug certification. Within Navicent’s network of facilities, two years’ experience is required for a metro hospital and one year is required for a rural hospital.
Additionally, some facilities require travel experience before considering a prospective hire.
“We expect our travelers to have at least some travel experience – one assignment – so that we know they’re comfortable in that role, because it is much different than permanent staff,” says Jeanette Dudley, nursing recruiter for SoutheastHEALTH. “I don’t even send a candidate through if they don’t have the number of years of experience, especially if it’s a critical care area.”
2. Experience matches the assignment
In addition to meeting minimum requirements, recruiters recommend ensuring your skills are a match with the desired placement to help set up all involved for success.
“If someone submits for position at one of our medium-sized hospitals, I want to see that they’ve just come from or spent most of their career in a medium size community hospital. Similarly, if they’re being sent to an academic hospital, l I want to see that they’ve worked in a level one trauma or a teaching facility because it’s a very different world,” says Moxley. “We don’t like to set anyone up to fail. It’s not good for us, the unit, the patients, or anyone.”
3. Exhibits confidence
Dudley says she looks for travel nurse candidates who exhibit confidence in their nursing skills and travel background.
“Travelers don’t get a lot of training compared to permanent staff, so they have to be able to hit the floor running,” says Dudley. “They need to be confident in their skills and confident in their travel experience, because they could be going anywhere and everywhere in the hospital, unless they’re specifically assigned to a closed unit. During the interview, speak about your previous experience and don’t be afraid to brag on yourself if you have that experience.”
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4. Asks questions and shows willingness to learn
Ethan Brewer, assistant director of nursing operations with SSM Health, St. Louis University Hospital, values inquisitiveness and a willingness to learn.
“Be open. We are going to have things that you don’t know about and I want you to ask questions,” says Brewer. “Ask questions, get familiar with the people on the unit, know your charge nurses, learn your escalation path. There’s a whole team of people at every hospital whose job it is to make sure you’re successful. We do want you to succeed and I can’t tell you how many times I wished somebody would have just reached out early before we had a problem.”
5. Takes ownership
A unique aspect of contract work is involving outside support in existing teams. To help make travel nurses a more integrated part of patient success, Dudley says she looks for prospective travel nurses who take ownership in the team and in the work.
“I think what stands out the most is when nurses are just there for the check and they don’t have an investment in the work,” says Dudley. “Travel nurses are outside help, but you want to mesh well and not stand out as outside help. Take ownership, be accountable, and go above and beyond.”
6. Demonstrates a positive attitude
Perhaps most importantly, the interview process is the time to demonstrate a positive attitude and your ability to be a team player. Hospital recruiters look for candidates who are friendly, outgoing, talkative, and willing to be part of a team to help accomplish their mission and goals for patient safety and satisfaction.
“Above all else is attitude,” says Dudley. “Candidates need to be able to fit well with our employees. Put yourself out there and be part of the team. Offer to assist other people and be willing to do whatever is necessary for the patient.”
Speak positively about your work and avoid speaking negatively about previous assignments, supervisors, and colleagues.
“If someone is complaining about a previous assignment and they don’t seem happy in their job, that is a big red flag,” says Dudley. “Negativity spreads, so that’s something you really don’t want to bring into your facility.”
SEE ALSO: 6 things that make a good travel nurse