Let me just emphasize that everything in this blog is solely based on my own personal experience during the worst surges of Covid-19. As you will read, it has never been the same experience or rules every time I took a contract, so I’m sure a lot of travelers who have also worked rapid crisis contracts will have completely different experiences. With that being said, enjoy!
Like many other travelers out there, I’m sure you have been curious about the insanely high pay rates that rapid crisis contracts offer, but were not sure on what it all entailed. Here's a little insight on what to expect. First off let me just start by saying, not just anyone can hack these contracts, there is a chance that you will get thrown into literal HELL. However, if you’re lucky, it could be the easiest money you’ve ever made.
Here are some of the facts about these assignments. Getting in can be quite the process since you continuously call a hotline and listen to the same automated voice a million times until you finally get through. With luck on your side, this could be within only 10 minutes or a couple hours. On the other hand, you could be calling multiple days in a row that may even lead to weeks without a shred of hope. That will all be just random chance. However, once you do get through, you just need to provide some basic information, then they disclose the location you need to be at by 10 pm the following day. You will be purchasing your own flight (or drive if convenient) and the company will reimburse you $250 each way. Make sure to have your own black scrubs beforehand. Sometimes the hospital that you end up at will offer scrubs when you get to the floor, but you still will need to have your own since you have to show up in the lobby of your hotel to check in with your black scrubs on. You will also receive an email with instructions on which hotel to be at, who your onsite rep is, and other first day instructions. Once you land, you will be responsible for providing your own transportation from the airport to the hotel. You may or may not be reimbursed for this along with the travel reimbursement of $250.
My rapid crisis company provided a hotel. There have been instances, like during hurricane reliefs, where you could be placed in a shelter, but this is on a rare occasion. It is also rare that they will place you in shared rooms, but I won’t say it has never happened. If you are in a hotel, the quality will always vary. Sometimes you can hit the jackpot and have a full kitchen. Other times you’d be lucky to have a microwave or a mini fridge. Some hotels might have washer and dryers on site, others you might have to send out for dry cleaning. You might even get amenities like a gym or a pool. Pretty much just understand that nothing is guaranteed and sometimes it’s all based on availability, but they do try to get you in a decent hotel. Also, don’t try to understand the rhyme or reason to why they do what they do, you’ll never figure it out.
My company provided a stipend of $50/day. Now I don’t know if this was location based or a company wide policy but if a hospital provides you with food, your company may take away that stipend. I have been on an assignment where we did not receive a stipend since the hospital supplied 1 meal for us during our shift. On the other hand, I’ve had a hospital supply breakfast and lunch but we still got our stipend. Now when I say supply, that means they have separated meal boxes they give to you for free (most of this was when businesses were donating tons of food to hospitals during the pandemic). If you do get a stipend and no meals supplied, you could either purchase meals from the hospital cafeterias or stock up at a grocery store with food if your room is accommodating. I’ve used an online meal prep service and that seemed to be the most convenient if you didn’t want to eat hospital food every day or buy crock pots and Instapots to cook in your room. Some of these hotels also may provide continental breakfasts with real eggs and not the powdered stuff!
Usually the commitments to these contracts are either 2 weeks or 1 month minimum and after that, you can stay as long as you’d like if the hospital still has needs. So even if you are thrown into a very bad situation, 2 weeks isn’t terrible. 1 month might be a different story. If you choose to leave before the required minimum, you just risk never working with that company ever again. The agencies may be understanding and still let you come back, if you haven’t already been traumatized, if you’ve been thrown in THE WORST situation possible where conditions were just completely unsafe. I believe now you’re only required to work 6 days in a row with 1 day off, but certain locations will allow you to work 7 days straight if you’re brave enough. You will get paid for about 13-14 hours a day. That depends if your rep allows you to document the time you get on and off the bus or only when you clock in and out of the hospital. There is also that chance that you arrive at the site they needed you, work for 3 days, and then suddenly the hospital no longer needs you. At that point, your agency may transfer you to another site if there are needs and you want to be transferred, you may be “staged”, or you can go back home. You are guaranteed 60 hours in those situations. The option to choose shifts also depends on the hospital needs. If they’re drowning all around, you can most definitely choose which shift you want to work. If the hospital is already well staffed, you will work whichever shift they want you to. Your one day off will be up to you, sometimes. However, they will not let you change it week to week. You get one and it stays on repeat like when Justin Bieber’s song Baby first came out back in forever ago.
Like every other travel assignment, this is another gamble. You could be deployed at a very nice hospital with all the necessary resources or you could be knee deep in a donkey’s rear without arms. You could be in a 10 bed hospital with 8 nurses and every patient is a walkie-talkie(imagine doing that for 6 months) or you could be taking 6 patients, all on hi-flo or bipaps, all isolations, and all blood sugars… without a PCT(imagine doing that for 1 month…). It just depends on which part of the deployment you arrive at your assigned hospital. The earlier you get there, the less staff that has been supplied. As the weeks go by and agencies supply more staff, the floods subside and you can finally breathe. At that point, you might only have 2-3 patients, too many PCTs fiddling their thumbs, and a bunch of nurses playing cards. Unfortunately, there’s no way of telling where you’re going and in which part of the deployment until you get through without an option. Sidenote, you may be able to get tons of hotel points depending on the hotel you get. Hilton points baby!!!
Your Reps are available 24/7 and should be able to address any issues or concerns you may have during your stay. They will enforce the rules and regulations however they please. Alcohol consumption is ABSOLUTELY prohibited on these assignments so do not be tempted to bring it up through some side door or pay a stranger to carry it in for you to avoid suspicion. Some Reps will say you’re not allowed to leave the hotel and you must have everything delivered to you. You may or may not be able to use the amenities that your hotel offers. Some might not even allow you to have visitors in your room but luckily, most of the ones I’ve worked with have all been really chill. One decided to treat everyone like 5-year-old children and we did not take well to that. We had a new Rep by the end of the week. Side note, some rapid crisis companies do not provide health insurance. Get your own private insurance or risk it for that biscuit. If you do happen to get Covid while you are working, you will have to quarantine in your room where you will not get paid except your meal stipend. You may arrive at your hotel only to realize that they are not ready for you to start working at the hospital right away for whatever reason. If that is the case, you will be put on standby or what they call “staged”. This is probably the worst thing you could expect when agreeing to sell your soul away. When you are staged, you will not work at all and remain in your hotel until they sort everything out. HOWEVER, you will still be paid for 12 hours. This will only be the hourly rate even if you’re going into overtime (I believe this is the new policy). They still expect you to come down at 7 (am and pm) to sign in and out every day as if you worked your shift. Do not get too comfortable with chillaxing. The hospital and agencies are working very diligently to find where to place you so I would absolutely not try to finish 20 different Netflix series, learn 2 different languages, and master 10 new hobbies.
My agency supplied shuttles to and from the hotel and hospital. Even if you have your car with you, you need to use the shuttle bus to go to work. You cannot Uber to work. They typically have you sign in and out on the bus if you’re actually working. For anything else, you’re fine to use your own mode of transport. If you have really cool bus drivers, sometimes they’ll do grocery store runs for you a couple times a week. If not, UberEats or GrubHub it is. I have heard of some locations renting out vans for you to share with a few other people to get to the hospitals. I think that just depends on how many staff members need to go to that hospital. Majority of the time, the agencies will try to set you up in hotels close to the hospital you’re assigned to. With that being said, there have been rare instances where nurses were being shuttled 1-2 hours to hospitals or shelters to work and then back. Yes, they were paid for those transport hours but I’m sure it still sucked.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about my experiences. On one hand, I have constant flashbacks and trauma from what I saw, but on the other hand I grew as a person/nurse and now have a good amount of savings. No one knows how long these contracts are going to last. My advice is if you are flexible, mentally stable, resilient and confident in your clinical skills go for it!
Written by Keven Hoang, Travel Nurse
Ever wonder how you could juggle Grad school and continue to be a travel healthcare professional? Honestly, it’s not for the faint of heart however, tenacity and determination will supersede any doubts you may have. Embarking on this type of journey IS possible and I’ll tell you how. Now, lets take a look at what type of degrees would be easier to navigate while on the road…
First, finding a university or college that’s online is a no-brainer; when starting an NP program I would look for one that is 100% online. If you’re anything like me and have distractions at home such as cleaning over studying or writing, 100% online is not going to work. There are programs that meet every 2-3 weeks and are suitable for those on the road. I would suggest mentioning this scheduling conflict in your interview or first thing at your new assignment. Facilities are desperate these days, so negotiating this into a contract would behoove you. Second, I would talk to an advisor at the university you’re wanting to attend and see what programs are available that cater to the travel lifestyle.
Now you may be thinking, “screw the nurse practitioner route!”. Not to fret…there are so many opportunities for nurses to apply their multifaceted, organizational and critical thinking skills across other industries. Take my decision to go back to school for business as an example. I see the value in obtaining my MBA and matching this to my nursing degree. This is an uncommon practice today but I have a feeling the more I can speak to the allure of a business degree for healthcare professionals, it's going to catch on. As a business owner, entrepreneur and nurse I’m learning they marry well and the knowledge I’m obtaining at Pepperdine University is gold. Pepperdine’s Executive Programs have MBA’s you can obtain in 24 months and meet in person every third weekend. The opportunity to fly back to California is easy for the weekend; there are other cohorts of mine who live on the East Coast and the Midwest who commute, so it is possible! Thanks to technology, the pandemic and AI, virtual group meet-ups are effortless.
The tech industry is realizing the value of healthcare professionals and their ability to innovate and create. You can easily obtain a software or coding certificate which would market your skill above others. Amazon and Google have hired nurses to ensure COVID protocols and safety measures are maintained. The possibilities for healthcare professionals are boundless. You just need to look a little deeper than the surface.
If you are truly considering going back to school, but uncertainty and hesitation are consuming you, you’re not alone. You’re not ready to give up the travel healthcare life, I get it, but don’t let this stop you. If you’re willing to put in the time and dedication, the benefits are infinitely greater. Juggling grad school and the travel life won’t be a walk in the park but you are capable. For more information on business and healthcare, I invite you to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love chatting and talking about business, healthcare improvement and innovation and I look forward to connecting!
Written By Chriss Diltz, Travel Nurse, Founder of NurseRX and current grad student
As traveling healthcare workers, we all have well meaning family members and friends who want to gift us something during the holiday season. If you’re like us, you have received your fair share of mugs, t-shirts, and badge reels with the cliche reminders that, “Nurses Call the Shots”, or that we enjoy “Coffee, Scrubs and Rubber Gloves”. Finding essential gifts for the essential healthcare worker can be a difficult task but Lumify is here to help!
Here are eleven items that are sure to make a nurse’s shift MERRY and BRIGHT:
1. uNight Light: a wearable LED light, designed by nurses for front line healthcare pros working in the clinical setting. Keeping you safe, your patients asleep, and your shifts a bit brighter. If you’d like to gift a uNight Light to help brighten someone's shift, head over to www.lumifycare.com and use the code “medventure” to get 15% off!
2. Subscription to Hello Fresh: Meals sent your way with minimal prep work and little fuss. After a string of shifts no one wants to think about the grocery store or “what’s for dinner”.
3. New shoes!!! We are on our feet for hours during a shift and great shoes are a MUST. A new pair of shoes for work is a great way to treat your feet! (Clove, Snibbs, Klogs, Gales)
4. Custom & Personalized scrub hat: Choose your print & choose your style. We love a fun and functional way to personalize our look. (TaylorMade Scrub Hats, Kim Kaps)
5. Eko stethoscope: AI-powered stethoscopes to help make your assessments more efficient by allowing you to hear faster and more clearly. We Lub-Dub these stethoscopes so much.
6. RekMed (nurse/student nurse planner): Staying organized as a nursing student or nurse is no easy task! These daily planners integrate easy to learn content, references, and tools to help you keep all together in a colorful and interactive way!
7. Owala Water Bottles: When you order you get to choose HOW you want to drink your drink; straw, flip, twist! Plus, it keeps your drink cold for your whole shift, love that!
8. PREMIUM scrub sets: Hands down NO comparison! When your scrubs look good and make you feel great it pours positivity and confidence into the rest of your shift. (Jaanuu, Medelita, Dolan, Figs, Cherokee, Fit Scrubs, Medicine Mountain Scrubs).
9. Compression socks: Our shifts are long and can be hard on our feet and bodies. Compression socks help to maintain blow flow, reduce discomfort and swelling. Check out Up at Dawn & TX Socks!
10. Custom badge reels: The perfect badge reel can capture our personality, be a reflection of who we are, add a smile to a stressful situation, be a distraction for a nervous patient, a conversation starter, or a small way to celebrate holidays! Our friends at The Badge Bar & Scrub Pocket have the perfect match for everyone.
11. Vcoterie- where art meets science, meets fashion. At Vcoterie, you can find medical related pins, charms, necklaces, bracelets and more! This nurse-owned company provides you with the perfect gift for any traveling healthcare professional.
The best news is that you can access all of these amazing items in ONE place, the Lumify Hub. In addition to being able to find all these great brands, the Lumify Hub also provides mental health resources, credentialing management platforms, amazing resources for travel nurses like MedVenture, access to communities built to support you, transparent reviews, and exclusive discounts.
We understand how challenging working in healthcare has been these few years. Despite the heaviness of our profession we hope that you are able to celebrate with those you love this holiday season and welcome the light of a new year!
Written by: Jennifferre Mancillas, BSN, RN & Anthony Scarpone-Lambert, BSN, RN Co- Founders of LumifyCare
After a busy day of working as a travel physical therapist, I returned by foot to my parked car in the Bay Area. As I started to approach, I noticed some glass on the floor, so imagine my shock as I got closer and saw the window smashed in. Sadly, working as a travel physical therapist in this area, I know that these incidents happen all too frequently. In fact, The San Francisco Chronicle reported an increase of a whopping 753% for car break-ins within the Central District from May 2020 to May 2021.
As well as the frustration of a damaged car, when I started to look around, I realized how many of my valuables had been stolen. I had my personal laptop, phone, passport, social security card, vaccination card, home health bag, and even my Brazilian jiu-jitsu gi taken from my car. As you probably know, this area is close to Silicon Valley, meaning the thieves use advanced technology to assist with their break-ins. Keep reading as I share my top tips for avoiding this type of incident when working as a travel healthcare worker.
Preventing a Car Break-In
There are many ways in which you can prevent a car break-in, and as a traveling healthcare worker, you may find that you are more of a target to thieves in the area. A huge issue in the Bay Area is that of drive-by break-ins. It takes just seconds for them to smash your window and take anything out of your car. Follow these tips to avoid experiencing the same situation that I did:
One of the biggest concerns for me was that my sensitive information could be stolen after the break-in. Fortunately, my friend worked in cyber security for the FBI and shared some top tips with me. The first step you need to take is to contact your credit card company, banks and block your credit or debit cards. If someone did take your cards, then they won’t be able to use your card. You will also want to consider a credit freeze. This can stop someone from opening a new account in your name, preventing fraud to some extent. I also recommend paying for a service called LifeLock that can track your identity online and credit inquires online. It is an online security monitoring service that provides insurance if any money is lost due to someone using your identity.
If you lost an electronic device during the break-in, when you are able to get online, log out of all of your social media accounts and email accounts. Change all of your passwords with a password app like Dashlane or keep them written down on paper in a secret location. As for the password you select, I recommend mixing things up with a 16 digit password containing lower case letters, upper case letters, numbers, and symbols. At this time, you’ll also want to contact your insurance provider or pay for a service that can assist with tracking your stolen items.
After dealing with the electronics, contact department of the state to notify if passport stolen and apply for a new passport. Of course, all of these tips will depend on your personal situation and what was lost in the break-in, but it’s always better to act with caution during a situation like this. Ultimately, if you only lost material items in the break-in, try to count your blessings.
While I lost a good number of possessions during my incident, I am healthy and live to tell another day. I decided to share my story because if it helps to prevent just one break-in within the local area, it was well worth it. By following these top tips shared above, you can help to prevent a break-in from occurring while working on the road this year. Safe travels!
Yonas Tekeste is a travel physical therapist originally from Chicago, Illinois. He graduated with his DPT degree in May of 2018. He is currently working a home health contract in San Francisco, CA. In his free time, he likes to listen to podcasts, exercise, and hike. The best way to contact Yonas is through Facebook or email at email@example.com. A resource I wish would have been available to me beginning as a therapist is “Rate My Therapy Company” Facebook group. This community was created to make it easier for therapists to learn about companies before applying. This group allows therapists to rate companies and provide valuable information on factors such as pay, productivity, and company culture.
“What’s your dating life like?” “Don’t you miss your family?” “Is it hard being so far from everyone?” Questions we’re all too familiar with answering and concepts that can be difficult for people to understand when they don’t live it. The simple answer, “we make it work.” Let’’ be honest though, there’s really a lot more to it. Some of the biggest hesitations described to me when I recommend someone look into travel nursing are these concerns. Truthfully, it can be difficult at times. My advice - don’t let hurdles stop you from pursuing something you want, especially if that’s happiness or self-fulfillment.
When my journey began into travel nursing I frankly had no idea what I was getting into. I had never met another traveler or had any insight into the community; I simply took a leap into something in search of escaping the burnout feeling I had as a staff nurse. I was engaged at the time when I decided to solo travel and leave our home in Charlotte, NC to head up to Boston, MA. It was a very hard decision to leave behind my relationship and my beloved pets. Ultimately, it fell apart. One take away I am grateful for though was learning from my mistakes and reflecting on things like “what could I have done differently?”
On the other hand, travel nursing actually brought me closer to a lot of my family and friends be it through sharing my experiences or during phone call marathons on those multi-day drives. You do have to get creative sometimes though to maintain those relationships while apart, whether it is with family, friends or partners. Here are some tips for strengthening your relationships while apart!
Networking within your new city is hugely valuable for sure, but sometimes assignments can get lonely. So there are moments where it’s really comforting to have those people you can reach out to for support. Like calling your mom from the side of the road when you blow a tire in the middle of a Colorado snowstorm, ha! So stay connected and remember they miss you too while you’re away!
Written by Deanna Lamberson- Traveler alum, OR Nurse, and MedVenturist
Travel nursing has always been a volatile market in comparison to permanent employment options. Jobs open and close, sometimes within minutes and there are so many different staffing companies who all have different positions, in different locations, and at different pay rates. It’s chaotic, overwhelming, and scary (especially when you’re experiencing it for the first time), but don’t let it stop you from taking the plunge!
The benefits of travel nursing in 2021 are big. With adequate preparation, navigating this environment is easier and will make you more successful. Here are some guidelines for setting yourself up for success as a travel nurse in a hot market:
Know your motivations.
Why do you want to be a travel nurse in the first place? What are you searching for? Common motivations for travelers fall into a few buckets; Which one are you in?
Identifying “why” behind your motivation to be a travel nurse is important to at first, expose, and then hold on to throughout your career. Having it as your “North Star” will ensure you make the right-for-you career path decisions quickly when you hit a fork in the road (and you will often as a traveler). Holding onto the “why” will also help you keep motivated when the going gets tough (and it will).
Find and hold onto your North Star.
Get & Stay Organized
Once you dip your toes into the travel healthcare world, things will move quickly. Get your ducks in a row or you’re going to miss the best opportunities. It’s no surprise that a contract you think is perfect is also catching the eye of other qualified candidates. The better the contract, the greater the competition. See below tips for how to get organized as a travel nurse and ensure you present yourself with your best foot forward:
Play it Safe
Lastly, don’t be reckless with your data. You’ll be encouraged by recruiters to quickly email or text your personal-sensitive info. Would you do that with patient data? So don’t do it with your own! Some agencies have a secure portal for uploading sensitive documents (ask for it), either way, your Kamana Profile is equipped with the power of encrypted sharing (and un-sharing) so you can protect your data while providing access to who you feel needs it.
Broaden your options. Realistically, no single recruiter or staffing agency can land you a contract in every city and always guarantee a higher paying contract than all their competitors. One recruiter does not have it all, you gotta work with a few (I suggest 5). It sounds overwhelming to maintain more than one recruiter relationship (and even unfaithful in a strange way) but you can do it tactfully and in a manner that respects your recruiter relationships and everyone’s time. Recruiters spend many hours finding and connecting nurses with facility needs. When you’re open about working with other agencies, organized with your documentation, and clear with your expectations – it will allow them (and you) to quickly identify if they have a match.
Get after it. You're entering the travel healthcare world for a reason (money, control, career advancement, adventure/exploring) so whatever the reason - make it your part time job to be the best traveler for you, and for your own success. Just like in the nursing practice there are so many resources out there to help us navigate, learn, and grow in this career path. Check out some of the best ones here.
Written by John Modica, RN
John Modica, RN and Kamana co-founder, has over a decade of experience in healthcare, spending the majority of his career working as a travel nurse in hospitals across the United States. Having seen first-hand the inefficiencies of the industry, he fully understands the frustrations and dissatisfaction held by the healthcare workforce. John is customer zero. Kamana is his solution.
TravCon is the one time a year where ALL healthcare travel professionals, recruiting companies, and niche-specific services that serve our community gather to network, make everlasting relationships, and educate one another. This year, TravCon will be held at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, NV on September 26-29th, 2021. Below is a list of everything you need to know before attending the conference of a LIFETIME!
Before You Go
Registration- Whether you are thinking about traveling, accepting your first assignment, or are a veteran traveler- TravCon is the place for you. But first, you’ll need to head over to www.travcon.org and pick between the four registration types. All registration types come with CEU credits.
Book your Flight- Las Vegas is one of the most accessible airports in the United States. Wherever you are on assignment, the flights to Las Vegas should be within reason.
Packing for TravCon- The general dress code during the event is business casual. You are going to want to bring party attire for the happy hour events and the official Travcon afterparty on Tuesday night. The days leading up to TravCon (Saturday and Sunday), agencies also host pool happy hours and since Las Vegas is hot in September, we recommend bringing a swimsuit. Finally, we suggest leaving room in your suitcase or bringing an extra duffle/suitcase because of the amount of swag (think pens, compression socks, stress balls, etc.) that you will receive from the exhibitor hall. Keep in mind that a 50lb suitcase may not be enough.
***Pro-tip: Remember that since this is an educational event, all expenses incurred can be written off on your taxes**
What to Expect
Educational Seminars- These sessions are geared towards everything you need to know as a traveling healthcare professional. Topics include, but are not limited to, tax advice, contract negotiations, a keynote speaker, self-care, finding community, and much, much more. Our suggestion is to attend at least 2-3 sessions per day and if there are two sessions happening at the same time, grab a friend, split up, and share notes. This year’s event will also be hybrid meaning there will be some sessions available online for replay. Check the TravCon website to see which sessions.
Exhibitor Hall at the Paris Conference Room- This is one of our favorite parts of the whole experience. The conference room holds 150+ vendors that are wanting to get to know YOU! The exhibitor booths range anywhere from travel agencies, healthcare brands, or other niche specific services that serve YOU. The booths in 2019 were very interactive and fun, so we imagine this year will be just as good! Some of the booths have games, special guests, prizes, and a TON of free swag! This is also your chance to get to meet your favorite recruiter or company IN PERSON. Come stop by and say hello to us at the MedVenture Booth #412 for some free swag and special giveaways.
Food- Breakfast and Lunch is included in your ticket and are provided on the 27th and 28th in the Exhibitor Hall. When we attended in 2019 we were pleasantly surprised by the variety of foods, it’s presentation, and how good it tasted. If you are a throughout the day snacker, bringing some snacks or bars to sustain you may be wise.
Drai’s NightClub After Party- Once the conference comes to an end on the 28th, your ticket includes admission to the exclusive TravCon afterparty. This is an all inclusive event (food, drinks, and adult beverages) with a live DJ where you can party the night away with your new best TravCon traveler friends.
Farewell Brunch- This is perhaps the saddest part of the whole experience. This is where you say goodbye (for now) to all of the new traveler friends you’ve made. This all-inclusive brunch is held on Wednesday September 29th from 10:00AM-12:30 PM.
Happy Hours and other perks- In addition to the events listed above, TravCon also hosts morning yoga and networking events. Several agencies host nightly happy hours, dinners, party buses, and other events before the conference as well as during. To learn more about these events we suggest you join the official TravCon Group on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/110354919604541 as well as the UN-OFFICIAL SHENANIGANS GROUP for ALL Travel Healthcare Conferences https://www.facebook.com/groups/TravConShenanigans.
***For a full list of TravCon Events go to https://travcon.org/schedule/ to learn more***
TravCon holds a special place in our hearts. We, the founders of MedVenture App, met at TravCon in 2019 and have been working on the MedVenture App ever since. We saw the value in connecting travelers and providing resources within TravCon, so we created a platform that does this year round. Even though TravCon took a hiatus from last year due to the COVID pandemic, this year will surely be a celebration of all the hard work and sacrifice every traveling healthcare professional has made this past year. If you find yourself at TravCon this September, don't forget to visit us at Booth #412; we hope to see you there!
Written By: Ryan and Emily, Co-Founders of MedVenture App
"I’m young and careful," "That would never happen to me." Do these statements ever cross your mind when signing up for a travel contract? They crossed mine and when trouble occurred, I wasn’t in the best position to prepare for the unexpected. I am here to tell you, fellow travelers, how to prevent or make the most out of a injury while on assignment.
While working my fourth contract in Virginia I injured my neck and shoulders. The funny thing was, I wasn’t even at work when my injuries occurred. Unable to perform my duties as a nurse my contract was cancelled. My insurance soon after was also terminated. They weren’t work related injuries, so I was left paying all the medical bills (physical therapy and orthopedic visits in NY and VA) on my own. So where do I go from here?
First: Check the insurance provided to you by your travel agency. I remember when I started travel nursing, getting injured to the point that I couldn’t work never crossed my mind. When I got injured the first time and was told I needed to do physical therapy before I could work again. Then, to have another accident that made my first injury worse and took me out of work even longer, yeah, that was definitely a blow. I thought about finances, how I’d pay for the three visits to two urgent cares and didn’t even know that my insurance was terminated. In the paperwork that came with my insurance it said that I was eligible for continued coverage if I was involuntarily terminated. I thought that it immediately rolled over to that coverage, but it’s actually a whole different process. You have to make sure to talk with your human resources representative and make sure that they send you the introductory letter or email to start the process for getting your continued coverage. Make sure you fill that paperwork out quickly because there is a window you have to be in to apply! I applied back in the beginning of July 2021 and my coverage didn’t resume until the end of August 2021! This can be and has been very stressful with the weekly phone calls to all those services and going through the insurance carrier, but also TASC, the third-party benefits administrator. Lastly, while you are applying for continued insurance after your contract is terminated, look for the sheet stating to apply to the ARP, this plan will help pay for your premium for your insurance.
Second: See if they offer any disability coverage (short term). This I wish I knew about before I even applied to travel nursing. When I was talking with my parents, my father told me to check and see if my company has any short-term disability services that I could apply for. Never knew that was a thing. I then checked in with my human resources again. Unfortunately, they said that they didn’t have that service (I know my per diem job back at my first hospital did), all they could recommend to me was to apply for unemployment. Since I was employed in Virginia and also had a job back in New York, they couldn’t tell me who or which one to apply to.
Third: Applying for unemployment. This can only be done once you are fully terminated from your contract. Now, if you have a per diem job in your home state too, chances are you will end up calling both states to see which unemployment benefit is higher. After choosing which state to apply for unemployment, you will have to call their unemployment department of labor agency and sit through a long list of prompts that you will have to answer. I hated this part because this took me from 830am to 1230pm because every time I’d be on a call with the representative the phone call would cut out and I’d have to repeat the whole process over again. Long story short, once you are finished applying for unemployment remember to certify your account and then certify for your benefits every week. Also, follow up every week to make sure your unemployment claim is being processed. I started this in Julyand I am still waiting for my claim to be either approved or denied. Other warning to heed, make sure you get your questionnaire and fill that out quickly. I was told I was going to receive one in the mail after I finished talking with a representative and never did, I had to reach out again to make sure the representative sent me one. Be prepared to wait a long period of time and to be hung up on multiple times. If that wasn’t enough, I was supposed to upload all my doctor’s notes into the portal for the department of labor. I was told by several representatives that there should be an option to upload, I promise there isn’t. I’ve called four days in a row for this issue and finally they said I can fax all the documentation (the questionnaire, the doctor’s notes and medical summaries). I refused that idea because the questionnaire has your full social security number and other personal identifiers, I didn’t want to risk the fax going somewhere it wasn’t supposed to go. So, I sent them through mail. A week went by and I never heard anything so I called again, when I finally got through, I was told they received the information I sent, but a few of the doctor’s notes were too light to read and was asked to send them again. I asked why I wasn’t informed that they received or even needed more copies of these documents and they simply said it isn’t there job to follow up with us. Finally, I did get a call from a case worker from the department of labor and they basically went over all the facts and documentation they needed to make and told me I should hopefully hear if my claim would be approved or denied. I've been working on this since June 2021 and it’s now September 2021.
Fourth: HSA and Emergency Fund. I was so thankful that my travel company had an HSA account set up for me. This benefit actually takes money from your paycheck and puts it into an account to pay for medical services. Definitely check if your travel company provides that benefit! The funds in that account helped me for a while, but unfortunately, I had to reach into my savings that were originally meant for graduate school. Even if it’s not for something in particular, I would highly recommend to everyone who travels to have an emergency fund. Not just for medical issues, but any unanticipated events that may come about in the unforeseen future.
Accidents can happen at any point in time. I was lucky mine weren’t too severe and just temporary. I’m in my twenties and in general a healthy person, I never thought I’d be injured to the point where I couldn’t work for a good chunk of time. Let my blunder be your friendly advice and please look into your benefits and services provided by your company. It might just save you from burning a big hole in your pocket.
As always, have fun, learn a lot and stay safe out there!
Written by: Kristina Marie, BSN, RN Neuro & General PCU