One of the easiest ways to make the most of travel nurses and to have them fit your culture better is to simply make them less “travel” and more like “semi-perm”, Which means having them work at your hospital longer than the typical 13 week assignment.
The question is how do you do that. There are two areas you will need to address to accomplish this.
First, you need to work with your travel nursing company to let them know you want travelers to stay longer than 13 weeks or you want to extend a travel nurse’s assignment.
Second, you need to make sure that when a traveler is at your hospital that they actually want to come back; assuming you like them and respect their clinical abilities.
Extending travel nursing assignments
Let’s start by looking at the idea of having travelers work longer assignments. The 13 week assignment is the industry standard, but it is by no means set in stone. A good travel nursing company is going to be able to accommodate your wish for either longer assignments on the initial contract or extending a traveler to a second 13 week contract. If this is not something welcomed by the companies you are working with then you may want to consider shopping around.
By having travel nurses work longer periods of time at your hospital you are able to get the economic advantage of using travel nurses, while at the same time overcoming the common challenge of them not always fitting into your unit’s personality or knowing your protocols, procedures, systems and software.
Re-recruiting travel nurses
Now let’s look at the area of making sure that travel nurses actually want to extend at your hospital. Obviously you need to make sure that the traveler is one that you want to extend, which all comes down to the quality of the travelers you work with. Here is a past article we wrote on how to make sure you hire qualified travel nurses.
After that though, whether a traveler wants to stay at your hospital comes down to some things that are out of your control and other factors that are in your control. We don’t need to focus on the ones that are out of your control, but quickly, they are things like your hospital’s location, the indiividual travel nurse’s nomadic tendencies (a fancy way to say how long can they even stand staying in one place), the weather, if they like traveling, etc.
Now onto things you do have control over. One of the biggest reasons a traveler will stay at your hospital is simply because they feel welcome and needed. There are two easy ways you can make sure this happens. Providing a good travel nursing orientation and a travel nurse friendly culture.
We have written extensively on both of these areas in the past, so we don’t need to rehash them all here. Instead here are the links to those posts.
Travel nurses and hospital culture – Make sure they fit
Makeover your unit by integrating travel nurses
How do you orient travel nurses?
Phone interview questions to make sure travel nurses will be a cultural fit
Although there are things that travel nurses themselves and travel nursing companies can do to help improve the travel nursing product, there are also things that you can be proactive in to make the most of it to serve your patients right now. And having them stay longer is one of the most effective.