Healthcare facilities guide for travelers
Healthcare facilities 101
As a or , the work environment can have a significant influence on your overall job satisfaction during assignments. Anything from the facility culture to the charting system can make or break your experience. At Nomad, we want our travelers to feel fully prepared for their travel assignments, and that includes knowing the facts about the facility you intend to work at. In this guide, we’re breaking down a checklist of all the facility considerations you’ll want to think about before applying for or accepting a travel job.
Facility considerations for travel nurses and travel allied professionals
Use our facility checklist before you apply to your next travel job. While it can be difficult to find a facility that meets every single one of your needs, it’s important to identify which facility qualities matter most to you as a traveler. Doing so can help you make a confident decision if you choose to accept an assignment while also ensuring your expectations are met.
Travelers can work in different types of healthcare facilities. The best type of facility for you will ultimately depend on your personal preferences and previous work experiences. The most common types of healthcare facilities Nomad travelers work in are hospitals, rehabilitation centers, outpatient clinics, and skilled nursing facilities.
Facility and unit size
In addition to the facility type, the size of the facility and unit should be taken into consideration. The number of beds in a facility will give you a good idea of how large or small the facility is and the potential volume of patients seen. Knowing the size of the facility or unit can help you understand the scope of your assignment and be better prepared.
Charting systems vary from facility to facility. The easier a charting system is for you to use, the better your travel experience will be. It’s helpful to know what type of EHR/EMR system is being used, and whether or not the facility will offer comprehensive training for you to ramp up.
Accreditations and ratings
Accredited facilities with high ratings can be an important consideration for some travelers, and can serve as an indication of quality, operational excellence, and top tier patient care. Some of the most popular accreditations travelers look for include The Joint Commission (TJC) and Magnet recognized programs administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
Depending on the facility, you may be exposed to more of one type of patient population over another. It’s helpful to know what kind of patients the facility primarily serves. For example, some facilities are equipped to handle both pediatric and adult patients while others may extensively provide advanced treatment for rare cancers.
Academic center status
Some hospitals are considered academic medical centers, or teaching facilities. These hospitals are often linked to medical schools and nursing programs, and are involved in conducting research. When working at facilities like these, travelers can expect to work directly with residents, or physicians undergoing training, and will likely interact with students on clinical rotations.
Technology and equipment
The equipment used at a facility can play a significant role in how effectively you perform your job. When asking a facility about their equipment, its helpful to know the type of equipment, age of equipment, and the training opportunities available if it’s new to you. For some clinicians, it’s important to know the troubleshooting and maintenance protocols for certain equipment.
Staff to patient ratio
The staff to patient ratio can be an indicator of how much time you’ll get to spend with each patient. Travelers tend to prefer a high staff to patient ratio in order to deliver the safest and highest caliber of patient care.
Orientation and training
As a traveler, you’ll want to have a clear understanding of how much training and orientation the facility is willing to provide before you’re expected to be independent in your assignment. Many facilities provide at least one to three days of orientation.
Ask about the shift length and scheduling expectations at the facility you’re applying to. For example, will you be expected to flip between day and night shifts? Will you work three 12 hour shifts or four 10 hour shifts?
The work culture at a facility can directly impact your overall job satisfaction. Does the facility encourage positive team dynamics? Are staff employees receptive to travelers and helping them get oriented? Are there opportunities for travelers to participate in professional growth? It can be helpful to read reviews and feedback from other travelers about their experience at a specific facility you’re considering a travel assignment at.
Consider the location of the facility and what’s nearby. If you're going to be working there for weeks at a time, it can be comforting to know what amenities are nearby such as a gym to workout at or a place to grab a healthy meal. Facilities in larger cities are more likely to have these kinds of options compared to those in rural areas.
Depending on the trauma designation of the hospital, different levels of services are offered. For example, Level I Trauma Center hospitals have enough resources to treat and stabilize complex trauma patients. They’re required to have an active surgical residency program and rarely transfer out patients to a higher level of care. These facilities are capable of caring for the most acutely ill and complex patients.
Sometimes facilities will require travelers to contribute mandatory overtime, on-call responsibilities, or other expectations that are typically outside of the standard job description. Make sure you have a clear understanding of these requirements before you accept a travel assignment.
Some travelers can benefit from knowing what additional support services are available for patients at a facility such as social work, case management, and interpretive services.
Requested time off
Be up front and discuss with the facility if they will accommodate any requested time off (RTO). Some facilities or units may not honor RTO during the assignment if it wasn’t established prior to starting the job. It’s best to communicate and clarify these requests before a contract is signed.