Travel Nurse Reference Guide

Career Advice, Travel Nursing

nurses who referred a travel nurseDuring the process of finding a travel nursing job, you have no doubt been asked for references for the agencies to contact. This is an important part of the process because it helps the agency and hospital gauge your clinical skills, professionalism, readiness to travel and whether or not you will be a good fit for the job.

What makes a good travel nursing reference?

It goes without saying then that the better your references are the better your chances of getting the job(s) you want. But what are the characteristics of a great reference?
A good reference is going to be:
  • Current (not from ten years ago)
  • From a credible, trusted and professional source
  • Easy to contact
  • From someone you worked closely with
  • Honest and accurate

How do you ask for a travel nursing reference?

Gathering references for your travel nursing career is not something that you should ever be done with. It needs to be an ongoing process that you do constantly. Here are some simple tips to help you gather your collection of good references:
  1. First and foremost be the kind of nurse that someone wants to give a reference for
  2. The more recent the references the better, so try to get one new reference at each assignment you work
  3. Keep the list of your references up to date – ask them to let you know if they change the phone numbers they can be contacted at
  4. Always check to make sure that the contact information is up to date before your give it to your travel nursing company to contact
  5. With each reference keep a summary of important information, including how you worked with the reference, their title, how long and what the dates were that you worked together
  6. Make sure all information is accurate and names are spelled correctly
  7. When possible always try to get former supervisor and charge nurse as references – not co-workers
  8. Ask if the reference feels comfortable recommending you and get their permission to list them – if not they may not be a good reference for you
  9. Once your job search begins notify your references to let them know that they may be contacted – remind them of the dates you worked with them and what the new assignment you are interviewing for is
  10. Keep the list of references growing – After your assignments are over, assuming it went well, talk to your unit manager to see if they would be willing to recommend you
  11. Ask your references if they have any advice for you to help you be a better nurse – this will help them feel more responsible in helping you get your next assignment
  12. This should go without saying, but do not use friends or family
  13. Stay in contact with your references so that they will not have a hard time recalling the details of your employment if they happen to be called after a lot of time has passed
  14. Most travel nursing companies require 2-3 references so you want to have at least that many, but you should try to have more like 5-7 on file in case any of them are difficult to contact

What about a travel nursing reference letter?

Speed can also be of the essence in getting a travel nursing assignment so you may also want to ask for a written evaluation before leaving each assignment in case your travel nursing company accepts these as a reference. These should be from your direct supervisor, not co workers and address:

  • Your clinical skills, competence, and proficiency
  • Your dependability (i.e. attendance and punctuality)
  • Your attitude (in terms of flexibility, ability to be a team player, willingness to go above and beyond, etc.)

Also, just like your references to call file, make sure that the contact information for the supervisor is included so they can be contacted if the travel nursing company or hospital wants to verify the letter.

Final note about travel nursing references

Overall, remember that everyone you ask to be your reference is placing their reputation on the line by referring you, so once you are on assignment always do your best to live up to their expectations of you.