Choosing Your Next Assignment


Last week I read a message from a traveler who was feeling conflicted and frustrated about choosing her next assignment.  She was struggling because she couldn’t find an assignment in the location she wanted.  Secondly, when she found an assignment for her specialty the money was not what she needed.  She needed a new assignment to be able to pay her bills and was frustrated with what to do.

Her dilemma was not a new one.  Many nurses have the same problem with a different set of circumstances unique to them.  What do you do when you want to see some new and exciting place but nothing is open?  The assignments that are open are not the best paying ones.  When you think about it,  there are really only two main factors that affect your choice, location, and money.

Here are few tips to consider when making a choice. The order you choose to make your decision is based on your own set of circumstances.


When choosing a location it is best to choose at least two preferred cities and a third for good measure.  Choose your most favored location along with a more realistic second choice and a third just in case.  Of course, most all travelers want to start out in Hawaii or Alaska.  When you consider a location you need to take into account the population of that location.  Hawaii is an island with only about 1.4 million people.  The second most requested place of Alaska has less than a million at about 750,000.  Both of these combined make up not quite half of the city of Los Angeles.

When looking at your next location consider the smaller the population the fewer hospitals and fewer jobs available for travelers.  This is a combination that makes for a lot of competition and a limited number of openings.  It does not mean you can’t get find an assignment in your location but consider the odds.

There are so many other cities that offer amazing opportunities.  If your first option does not work out look to places like Phoenix, Seattle, Boston, Chicago and so many others.  Any of these other choices will still give you the travel experience you want  Also your chances are better with many of these sites.

The Money is Important

Of course, we all know it is as much about the money as it is the exciting city.  What fun is a city when you are worried about whether you have money for a night out.  There is so much to consider when trying to figure out the money.   You have to take into account travel pay, housing stipends, per diem and hourly compensation.

Next, you have to consider the cost of living in the area.  You can make the same wage and take home pay in one area as another but the money in the bank can differ.  If your housing cost is higher in one area than the other then your amount left to spend is less.  You should realize that $1900 a week in Phoenix is worth more than $1900 a week in New York.

One way to get the best idea of your take home is to have your recruiter quote you the after-tax take-home pay.

Get a Second Opinion

Check with your recruiter since they have had other travelers who have worked the same assignment.    Hopefully, you have a recruiter that will be honest with you about how travel-friendly a hospital may be toward new travelers.

Check with other nurses on the blog sites who have worked the same assignment.  If a hospital and agency have rave reviews chances are you will have a great experience.  Recruiters want you to have a successful assignment.  It is a win-win for everyone when you enjoy your travel experience since you will spread the word.  A big part of the experience is the time you spend at work and off duty checking out all the new city has to offer.


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Cheryl Roby, RN

Cheryl J. Roby is a retired RN and US Army Nurse Major. She has over 30 years of nursing experience and 26 years of military experience in the Army Nurse Corp. During her nursing career she has traveled as part of her military experience visiting many of the 50 states and once to South Korea. Her medical training began during the Vietnam era when trained as an army medic. She went on to train as an OR tech and then as a LVN/LPN. She completed nursing school and was direct commissioned into the reserve Army Nurse Corp. nurse. She appreciated the challenge of working in various specialties and expanding her clinical and professional skill sets. Her time in the Army Reserves and California National Guard gave her the opportunity to travel to most of the 50 states and working in other medical facilities. During her career she spent years as an OR nurse, Occupational Health Nurse, Hospice Nurse, Forensic Nurse, Nurse Case Manager for developmental disabilities, Parish Nursing as well as being a Nurse Entrepreneur.

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