The holidays are a busy time for everyone. Between shopping, cooking, family and holiday parties, committing to a traveling healthcare assignment may seem like too much to handle. But that is not the case: Working holiday coverage is manageable and has plenty of benefits. We recently talked to Chad Sinclair, branch manager at Aureus Medical Group, to find out more about the perks of holiday coverage travel assignments.
"Working holiday coverage is manageable and has plenty of benefits."
Holiday coverage basics
Travel nursing assignments over the holidays are typically the standard 13 weeks. However, Sinclair said some facilities want healthcare professionals for longer contract periods.
"We are actually seeing more facilities want longer contracts, and sometimes, they may be willing to pay more if you commit to a longer assignment," Sinclair said. "Six-month assignments are very common these days."
In the fall and winter months surrounding the holidays, hospitals are in need of additional contract staff. Sinclair explained that the increased demand begins in late October and runs through the end of January.
What to expect
When working at a new hospital or healthcare facility on a travel assignment, traveling healthcare professionals just like the respective staff, according to Sinclair.
"Unless indicated otherwise, the hospital will often have the traveler work every other holiday or something to that effect," Sinclair said. "Most hospitals are very good about letting the traveler know what the holiday schedule may look before or during the interview process."
If you know you will need specific dates off, Sinclair advised travelers to let their agencies and manager at the hospital know early.
Holiday coverage benefits
The vast bonuses of working holiday travel assignments include flexibility, future opportunities for employment and support systems. Here's more about each of these advantages:
Similar to other times of the year, traveling healthcare professionals choose where they want to work over the holidays. This can be a huge advantage if a traveler's home base is not near family since he or she can choose to be assigned to a hospital near their loved ones for events such as Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.
Sinclair said that travel nurses often try to coordinate assignments so that they end prior to Christmas and have a new assignment begin after the New Year. However, this method is not foolproof.
"This can make it challenging to find an assignment after the first of the year because that is when many other travelers are trying to find their next assignment," Sinclair said. "It is advantageous to work assignments through the holidays so you aren't searching for a job the same time as everyone else!"
Sinclair specifically suggested taking assignments during the holidays and into February because of the large influx of people searching for work in the beginning of the year.
"This can make it challenging to find an assignment," Sinclair said. "If you were to extend your contract through the holidays, you are ensuring yourself employment when others are searching for a job with everybody else."
In addition to securing seamless employment from assignment to assignment, working holiday coverage helps hospitals and healthcare facilities give the utmost quality of care during a busy period. Hospitals recognize some of the sacrifice associated with working an assignment over the holidays, which makes traveling nurses valued and appreciated members of the staff, according to Sinclair. Holiday staff typically receive overtime and other earnings incentives. Working the extra hours can also lead to future job opportunities.
"The more shifts you pick up, the more the regular staff appreciates it and in turn, could lead to a contract extension," Sinclair explained.
Travelers are not alone over the holidays. Sinclair said it is common for local staff at the hospital to include visiting staff in their holiday celebrations.
"I can recall a time where an OR nurse manager invited a traveler to join their family Thanksgiving dinner," Sinclair said.
"Travelers are not alone over the holidays."
For travel nurses who want to plan a weekend at home for a family event or weekend away over a holiday coverage assignment, AurTravel, Aureus Medical Group's in-house travel agency, is available to help coordinate trips. Travelers should work through their account managers and onsite supervisors, however, for scheduling purposes.
"Some travelers will take a trip home like this instead being paid travel expenses at the beginning or end of an assignment," Sinclair said.
Keys for success
Travel nurses and therapists have unique qualities that meld well with working holiday coverage. According to Sinclair, the "best travelers have the mindset that they are in a position to help the facility any way they can."
This is particularly true in short-staffed facilities where local staff has to work extra coverage over the holidays. Sinclair said that in those scenarios, the traveling healthcare staff can make a world of difference.
"If you are already away from home and family during an assignment and are willing to work extra holidays, it allows regular staff to spend that time with their families and that can go a long way," Sinclair said.
Working holiday coverage is a rewarding experience in and outside the hospital. Do you think it is the right fit for you? For more on holiday travel assignments and work as a travel nurse, contact Aureus Medical Group.