By Sarah Wengert
It’s a new year and that means it’s a perfect time to freshen up your career goals! The last couple years have been (and continue to be) a blur for most healthcare professionals, as you answered the call to care even through the most difficult circumstances. That’s left many of you working so hard just to make it through each day that you may have neglected your own big-picture plans and goals.
So, let’s take a beat and refocus those for you! After all, true self-care isn’t all bubble baths and Netflix binges (although it can for sure be that, too!) it’s also looking at what serves you in the run and setting yourself up for success. The personal and professional often blend together, especially for travel nurses. Let’s start by creating your 2022 travel nursing plan and go from there. Now get out your notebook or create a new note in your phone — let’s gooooo!
Take a Quick Look Back
Before you envision forward, look in the rearview mirror. I know it can be painful sometimes, especially over the pandemic years, but it’s often an important part of moving forward. What did you accomplish professionally? What are you most proud of? Where do you see your highest potential to grow? Where do you have room to improve? Practice self-compassion but also be real with yourself. Treat yourself like you would a good friend. Now take that valuable feedback forward with you.
Think About What Kind of Jobs You Want
Is there a new area that you want or need to grow into this year? Perhaps it’s a new specialty. It could be something closely related to your current specialty or it could be a real leap! If there’s continued education involved, make a plan for that — even if it’s not going to happen this year, map it out as part of your master plan. Or, maybe your goal is to work at a teaching hospital this year. Maybe you wish to move into long-term acute care. Do you need new licenses/certifications or perhaps need to renew old ones? Think about whatever you want to accomplish in 2022 and beyond, work backwards to define the steps you need to take to get there, then get started!
Plan (Tentatively) for Your 2022 Locations
For travel nurses and travel allied health professionals, there’s always the question of where to go next. It’s a good idea to have a few locations in mind and to communicate those clearly to your recruiter — knowing what you want helps them find it for you whenever possible. First, jot down your bucket list location lineup for the year. Consider seasonal changes, being closer to friends/family at certain times of the year, and other such factors that matter to you. Always wanted to see the northern lights? Find out when they’re visible and where, then slot that into your plan. Need to fly south to avoid winter? Consider a few locations that would give you the friendly climate that you desire. You can even search travel nursing jobs now just to help you brainstorm what kind of locations are out there. Our job search tool is really handy for that because it lets you search by any combination of title, specialty and/or location. Next be sure you communicate your top picks and timing to your recruiter well ahead of time so they can start the hunt for you.
One important side note though, and veteran travelers know this well, don’t be 100% rigid about your locations. Finding exactly what you want at the exact time you want it is not always possible. A good recruiter will try to get you as close as possible every time but be open to alternative options when it’s just not possible. Keep in mind that many travelers end up finding their favorite locations in places they never even considered and that you will get what you want the majority of the time. So, be ready with your bucket list but be flexible when needed — it all works out over the long run!
Plan Ahead for Time Off
Do you have any super important plans or events this year? If so, make a list of those now and add to it as the year continues. That way it’s all in one place for you to reference before you sign each contract. When you’re ready to sign a travel nurse contract, that’s the time to include any time off that’s non-negotiable to you. That’s right, have them literally put it in the contract! While you can still ask for time off during your assignment, if there’s something you absolutely need the time for, then the best way to ensure it and protect yourself is to ask your recruiter to include it in your contract. Making a big-picture list now will help you make sure you don’t forget, Check the list before every contract you sign.
Evaluate Your Current Travel Nurse Company and Benefits
Do you have the benefits and service you deserve? If you’ve been feeling like a number and not the incredible, talented individual you are, it may be time to reevaluate your current situation. You should always feel empowered to start a constructive conversation with your recruiter if you’re unhappy for any reason. Keep in mind that they definitely don’t want you unhappy, and if they know there’s a concern on your part they’re more likely to be able to help fix the issue. Sometimes though, an agency just might not be a good fit in terms of benefits or something else that the recruiter can’t adjust right away. So, just be sure to always communicate 100% constructively and honestly with your recruiter, but also do your research and make sure you’re with a company that offers you amazing benefits, great service, and always has your back. You deserve it!
Revisit Your Goals Throughout the Year
Have you ever made goals for a new year and then a year later you look back at them and just laugh? Avoid this pitfall by checking in on your goals several times a year. Quarterly or every other month is a good rhythm for check-ins. This way you can reevaluate and adjust if needed as the year continues. Sometimes we just flat out forget the plan if we don’t do these kinds of check-ins. But also, sometimes checking in allows you to recalibrate as needed. Remember that it’s important to have a plan, but don’t be so rigid that you can’t roll with the punches as the year unfolds. Travel nurses may know better than anyone that a little flexibility goes a long way in life!
So, this exercise in planning and a lot of these steps are rooted in common sense, but it’s still really important stuff to periodically remind yourself about. We hope that going over these steps more intentionally helps you with creating your 2022 travel nursing plan. Be sure to also incorporate your personal goals and you’ll be in great shape for a great year!