One of the most challenging aspects of being a nurse is managing your emotions. When you’re a travel nurse, this often means you don’t have your core support system by your side to balance the long shift and emotional-draining days that come with being a nurse. Some days, especially when anxiety levels are higher than usual, handling your emotions can seem like an impossible task. Nonetheless, you still have to power through and continue duty as usual.
Focus on Self-Care
When your job is to care for others all day, it’s easy to forget about caring for yourself. However, the best way to handle your emotions is by focusing on self-care. From making sure you’re eating healthy, taking time to do things you enjoy, and caring for your mental health.
Even with hectic schedules, you can still find a few minutes to focus on self-care. The best way to incorporate self-care into your lifestyle is by setting a time on your schedule. Set 15-minutes to a daily lecture, go for a walk outside, or something as simple as taking a hot shower at the end of the day.
Work on Your Emotional Intelligence
One of the most critical skills you’ll develop as a nurse is your emotional intelligence. One study says emotional intelligence (EI) can be 2x as important as technical skills. Successful nurses have an above-average EI, which will be essential to manage your emotions.
Working on your EI will not help boost your professional career, as people with high EI tend to be more empathetic. But, it will also help you manage how other people’s emotions affect you. Some ways to work on your emotional intelligence include:
- Practicing self-awareness
- Motivating yourself to do what you love
- Staying open to feedback
Find a Support System
In any job, especially in nursing, finding “your person,” one you can go to for support and venting. Having this kind of support at work is paramount, particularly for dealing with highly emotional days. Find a person that you can trust, that lets you describe how you’re feeling, and shares frustrations but also is as passionate as you’re about nursing.
Additionally, working on maintaining your support system back home. If your family isn’t close, make sure you reach out to them whenever possible. Phone calls, text messages, and video calls are all wonderful ways to stay connected with your family.
Have a Safe Space
While having friends at work helps take time off and relax, you also need a safe space. Find a safe space at work you can resort to whenever you need a few minutes for yourself. Consider this safe space your venting space to cry, deep breathe, sit for a minute or two. Don’t be picky about this spot. The bathroom, an empty patient room, or a staff break room can also be helpful.
Practice Deep Breathing
The power of breathing can do wonders for managing your emotions. All you need is five minutes to reset yourself. Whenever you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or experiencing emotional stress on the job, a deep breathing practice can help.
One of the most popular and effective breathing technique is the 4-7-8 technique. Here’s how to do it:
- Exhale making a whoosh sound.
- Close your lips, breathe in for four.
- Hold your breath for seven counts.
- Exhale and open your lips, making a whooshing sound for eight counts.
When you take time to practice deep breathing, make sure you do so in a quiet and calm space. Remember that you can’t control everything, deep breath can help you regain control of your emotions.
Know When to Seek Help
While we can do many things to manage our emotions as nurses, sometimes it isn’t enough. Recognize that sometimes talking to a professional can be beneficial. A mental health professional can help you find the right techniques for managing your anxiety levels. Try to carve time in your schedule to visit a therapist or talk in a support group.
If you’re noticing that your anxiety levels are higher, you’re struggling with depressive episodes, or you’re having a harder time than usual processing emotions, it might be time to speak to someone.
Handling Your Emotions Is an Ongoing Process
Every day is a different hurdle. If you have a difficult patient or an emotional case, know that it’s okay to cry, to feel stressed, or to need a break. It’s fine to need to talk away from the situation.
Remember that handling your emotions is an ongoing process. Take time to focus on your emotional intelligence. Find a mentor how can couch you through emotionally-challenging situations. And practice self-awareness in your life. Recognizing and managing your emotions as a travel nurse will benefit your professional and personal life.
If you ever need help with assignments, handling the stress of continually moving, or need the right assistance to find help. Don’t forget to reach out to your agency recruiter for help.
For travel nurses, understanding how compact nursing states operate is paramount for an established, long-term career in the field. Having a multi-state license is not only a must-have as a travel nurse, but it is also a mechanism to ensure you’re practicing nursing under legal standards that apply to most of the states you work.
What’s the Nursing Licensure Compact?
The Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC), which started back in 1977, is an agreement that allows nurses to have a single license that permits them to practice in multiple states. To this date, there are 34 states which have ruling NLC legislation available, which means they recognize a multi-state license or have this legislation currently pending.
What about the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC)
Stemming from the Nursing Licensure Compact, in 2018, legislation that adopted new requirements for nurses to work in these compact states became available. The Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) ensures nurses with the flexibility, time-saving, and lower expenses of taking on travel assignments in any of the participant states. Not to mention, nurses are now able to practice in-person or through telehealth from their home state of licensure or any other eNLC state. There are currently 29 stats with the eNLC legislature.
Who’s Grandfather Under this Agreement?
Members of the original NLC may be grandfather into the eNLC. Any nurse who held a multi-state license before July 2017 may be grandfathered. To verify if you’re part of this group, visit nursys.com and enter your license number on their QuickConfirm form to confirm you have the authority to practice.
Why the Nursing Compact States Are Important
As a travel nurse, you already understand the implications of working in multiple states. The Nursing Licensure Compact aims to remove these complications and make it easier for nurses to work across state lines. The NLC allows you to get rid of multiple renewal requirements and fees while expanding your mobility and giving you access to a nation-wide healthcare system of nurses.
Eligibility for Compact Nursing License
First of all, only nurses who declare a compact state as their primary state of residence may be eligible for a multi-state license. If you don’t live in a compact state, you will be limited to a single-state license that is valid in that state only and might require other single-state licenses if you want to work in another state. As a resident of a noncompact state, you can apply to as many single-state licenses as you want.
If you do live in a compact state, some of the eligibility requirements include:
- Primary residence in an NLC state.
- Have an active license as a registered nurse (RN) or licensed professional nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN),
- Meet specific requirements held by your home state and of the state where your practice is.
- Pass an NCLEX Nurse Examination.
Keep in mind that an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) isn’t eligible for a multi-state license and must hold an individual state license in each state of APRN practice.
Current List of Nursing Compact States
Here’s the latest list of nursing compact states. Keep in mind that more states are continuing to adopt the multi-state license requirements and offerings.
- New Hampshire*
- New Jersey
- New Mexico*
- North Carolina*
- North Dakota*
- South Carolina*
- South Dakota*
- West Virginia*
*These are states that have an existing eNLC legislation.
Additionally, these are the states with NLC legislation currently pending:
- Rhode Island
Thankfully, over 50% of the states are members of the eNLC legislation, which means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to move across states.
How to Apply for a Compact Nursing License
Once you’re sure you meet all the requirements, you can start the process on your state board of nursing website. Find the application form, often listed under “eNLC Upgrade Application” or “Apply for a multi-state license.”
Go through the application progress, if you need assistance, working with a travel nurse agent can be helpful. Then, complete the mandatory fingerprint scan and background check, which will occur at an approved center in your residential state.
After this step, usually a few days or after a couple of weeks, you will receive your new multi-state license in the mail. Once you receive this license, you should be ready to practice in all participatory eNLC states.
Remember to check your current license status. There’s a possibility that your current nursing license is a valid multi-state one. If you’re unsure, check your eligibility using the website mentioned above for verification.
Whether you’re just getting started as a travel nurse or you’re a seasoned nurse, working with a travel agency to ensure your multi-state license is valid and active can place you at an advantage with other nurses. Make sure to reach out to your coordinator or travel nurse agent to go over requirements, updates, and any other processes needed to be able to practice nursing in compact states. At Stability Healthcare, our recruiters and staff members are always available to answer your questions and guide you through the process of obtaining your multi-state license.
The concept of social distancing during COVID-19 is daunting, but incredibly important. As a travel nurse, you should still be practicing social distancing while you’re not at work. Keep in mind that even though Stability Healthcare offers day one insurance with United Healthcare, you still want to take steps to keep yourself in the best physical shape.
It’s easy to feel sluggish while you’re home, especially in between shifts. It’s important to remember that keeping active will help with your energy levels and overall health. Below, find an overview of what social distancing is, and how to stay active when you have to actively distance yourself.
What is social distancing?
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, social distancing “is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness.” That’s why upcoming events, such as conferences and concerts, and non-essential businesses, like movie theaters and restaurants, have been closed until further notice. Additionally, the CDC recommends that people stay at least six feet away from each other, preferably more. This applies when you need to go out for necessities, like food or medication.
This does not mean that you should still go to the beach or a popular hiking path. The best way to protect yourself and others is to stay at home. Even though a brisk walk to get a latte from the walk-up coffee shop seems tempting, it’s not worth the risk. Protect yourself and others by staying at home.
Ways to stay active while socially distancing yourself
Use online methods to exercise
Skip going to the gym, whether it’s in your apartment building or on the way to work, and exercise at home instead. Chances are, your gym is closed anyway. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of credible online guides for at home workouts. If you’re lucky, you may have some equipment at home to work with, such a stationary bike or weight lifts. However, don’t fret if you don’t own any workout equipment. There are several bodyweight exercises you can do, or you can turn objects you have at home into make-shift weights. Here is a brief list of a few suggested exercise guides:
The MyFitnessPal app is available online and on most smartphones. In addition to being a useful tool if you’re counting calories and tracking your weight, the app offers different exercise routines. These routines fall in different categories – “Healthy At Home”, “Run Strong,” “Core Strength,” etc. There are also different routine lengths – so if you need a quick workout between your travel nurse shifts or a longer workout for when you have the evening off, MyFitnessPal can be tailored to your needs. Although the basic app is free, you can upgrade for perks like macro and micro counting food, amongst others.
Making household objects into weights
This will depend on what you have available at your house and if you like to lift weights. For decades, people have been turning household objects into weights; cans of beans, milk carton, vinegar bottles, laundry detergent, and more. There are quite a few articles that give suggestions on what to use and how to use them, like Cosmopolitan, Thrillist, and HBFIT. Obviously, this is customizable to what you have in your household.
Blogilates (plus other Youtube channels!)
Blogilates was started by Cassey Ho about a decade ago. Since then, she’s won awards for her social fitness videos, and has amassed millions of social media followers and subscribers. She has hundreds, if not thousands, of videos to choose from, ranging from 10-minute core exercises to full-length at home workouts. She also does 30-day workouts, which include different daily routines. Seeing as social distancing is most likely going to span several weeks, this may be a fun challenge to try. Ho is incredibly easy to understand and is very encouraging, and a great at-home workout guru for beginners.
Purchase at-home workout equipment and guides
If you feel like you need actual weights, try looking online. Even though a lot of websites are backed up due to COVID-19, if you’re willing to wait a week or two, you should be able to get some basic weights online. On Amazon, you can buy everything from dumbells to weight lifting benches. If you’d like to support smaller companies, you can buy their in-house tools, like the Glute Lab’s glute loop.
Why is being physically active important?
There are ways physical activity benefits your overall health; it puts you at lower risk for chronic diseases, early death, cancer, diabetes, and more. Additionally, according to the CDC, higher amounts of physical activity can lower your annual health bills, improve your cognitive function, and help you destress. By keeping active during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can encourage your own personal and mental health.Read More
It’s clear that these are unprecedented times with a lot of uncertainty. With the recent spike in people infected with COVID-19, it seems as if everyone’s stress levels have skyrocketed alongside it. Being in the healthcare industry you are on the frontlines of this battle, which doesn’t make things any less stressful! Although it’s perfectly normal to feel anxious, confused, and upset about the current circumstances, it’s also important to find ways to try and destress. This will help you be able to think and react more clearly and calmly. You should spend time finding your own personal way to ease tension, but look below for some tips.
Familiarize yourself on COVID-19 prevention
Anxiety and stress aside, you should still be informed of the basics regarding COVID-19 and its best prevention methods. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is your best source. Here is the page for their suggested prevention methods. As the CDC says, the best way to avoid getting the virus is by refraining from exposure to the virus. This can be done by socially distancing yourself, washing your hands, and cleaning surfaces in your home daily. If you have to leave the house for any reason, you should try and stand at least six feet apart from others. Comb through the page to see more specifics on COVID-19 prevention.
Ways to handle stress
Take care of yourself physically
Although exercising may be daunting during a global pandemic, it can benefit you tremendously. Not only has exercise been clinically proven to help lower stress levels, but it provides an activity for you to focus on. Even under self-isolation, you can still take a walk outside or on a bike ride (just keep in mind to try and stay six feet away from others). If you don’t feel comfortable outside, there are several options to get a workout indoors. A few suggestions: Blogilates, which offers both short and longer exercise routines, Yoga with Adriene, who takes you through both beginner and more difficult yoga workouts, and Planet Fitness’ free live streams. These are just a few examples of many free workout plans available online. Additionally, if you have in-home work equipment, try and instill some type of daily physical activity in your routine.
Self-isolation is also a perfect time to try out the new recipes you haven’t had the chance to yet. After stocking up at the grocery store, find a meal plan suitable for you, putting healthy, clean meals at the forefront. However, it’s always a good idea to treat yourself every once in a while!
Find activities that you enjoy
Obviously your daily routine is going to look different while under self-isolation. It’s a great idea to make sure you try and do some of the normal activities you enjoy, whether that is reading a book, watching a movie, listening to music, knitting, playing card games, or chatting with friends.
- Movies: Luckily, we live in a digital age that allows us to have thousands of movies at our fingertips. With recent events in mind, there are dozens of streaming guides popping up on what to watch when you’re self-isolating, like Paste’s 30 Best Stand-up Comedy Specials on Netflix. There are guides for nearly every genre and streaming platform, like Thrillist’s Best TV Shows with 100+ Episodes to Stream, UPROXX’s 10 Best Rom Coms on Hulu, and more. There’s even a Netflix Party extension so you can watch something on Netflix simultaneously with others.
- Music: Free music is everywhere – on Spotify, Youtube, Reddit threads, Bandcamp, plus others. Make a calming playlist with music that relaxes you, or a playlist of pop music that you can dance to and take your mind off of things. If you use Spotify, you can even make a collaborative playlist with friends, which will lessen the burden of feeling isolated. Spotify, Apple Music, and plenty of other streaming services typically have already-made playlists that are curated for specific moods.
- Hobbies: Chances are, you will have more down-time for the next few weeks. There are plenty of hobbies you can pick up, such as reading, knitting, scrapbooking, embroidery, sewing, puzzles, and more. We recommend following self-isolation practices and ordering supplies online.
Chat With Family and Friends
Self-isolation doesn’t mean that you can’t talk to loved ones. Chat with family and friends over the phone, or schedule a Facetime session. There’s also Google Hangout, Go To Meetings, and several other online resources to video chat someone. If you want something more tangible, you can also write letters, or send momentos in the mail.
Take a break
It’s extremely important to give yourself a mental break. It might seem pertinent to keep updated on every single news item regarding coronavirus, but taking a break from the internet and TV can be beneficial. Putting aside time to meditate, or do a relaxing activity, or to chat with a friend over the phone can help put you in a more positive headspace.
While you’re busy taking care of everyone else right now, make sure you are taking care of yourself! If you need more resources, check out CDC’s advice on Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19. There are many online resources to help cope with stress during a global pandemic.Read More
Spending a few weeks in Music City amid the COVID-19 pandemic? Nashville is known for its bustling music venues, and the Honky Tonks on Broadway, usually flooded with tourists. But on a beautiful Spring day and with a full tank of gas, you can have a perfect day off while still social distancing. Here’s a day worth of adventures, without all the cowboy-boot-wearing crowds.
Have an early morning to-go breakfast at Loveless Cafe
Drive straight down Highway 100 until you see an old sign for the Loveless Motel. There you can have the most delicious Southern Breakfast you could ask for. A global pandemic might be the best time to grab food at this Nashville breakfast staple without any wait time. Try their biscuits with the strawberry or apricot jam and no other biscuit will ever live up. Get grits, or a platter of biscuit sandwiches, chicken, sausage, and a personal favorite, pimiento cheese and fried green tomato. By the time you’re done, you’ll want to take a nap. Explore the grounds of what really was once a classic ‘50s Nashville motel (while keeping a mindful distance of those around you). There are local shops lined along where the rooms used to be. And there’s a Loveless gift shop where you can buy wholesale bags of the Loveless biscuit mix, stock up now so you can keep enjoying Loveless from the comfort of your own home!
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Loveless Cafe (@lovelesscafe) on
Take a hike in Percy Warner Park
Get back in your car, and head back East on Highway 100 for a few miles. On your right, you’ll see a mound of hills that make up Percy Warner Park. Hiking trails weave in and out of Nashville’s rolling hills. And they’re super easy treks. It’s a great way to take in some nature, and also burn off those biscuits. Hikes can range from a quick half an hour to four or five. Choose a quick one. You have more to do today!
Drive down Natchez Trace and get lost.
Since you’re already on the West side of Nashville, it’s hard not to hit the historic, and beautiful, Natchez Trace Parkway. When your legs are tired of hiking, experience Tennessee’s greenery driving with your windows down instead. Blast the ‘O Brother Where Art Thou folk soundtrack and drive down the parkway, going nowhere in particular. You’ll encounter some fun landmarks on your way. There’s the big white Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge. You can pull over and gaze out from the overpass at just how far Nashville’s green hills stretch into Franklin. Or take the exit right before and gaze at the bridge in its entirety. Either way, it makes a good photo op.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Sara Kauten (@sarakauten) on
If you’re feeling truly adventurous, take the exit for Leaper’s Fork, a small town just outside of Nashville. You can drive down the historic block lined with old country stores and antique shops. Stop in Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant for a cone of ice cream. Then head back into the city. Hopefully the sun will be setting on your ride back. There’s nothing like a Nashville sunset.
Get a Martin’s Barbeque Sandwich to go
As you get back into the center of town, we recommend you try Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint for dinner. Go to the Belmont location, and try a sliced beef brisket or a pulled pork shoulder. And load up on sides, from hush puppies to mac & cheese. Get it all to go.
Eat it on top of your car in Love Circle
Then head to Love Circle, the hill in Hillsboro Village that offers an almost completely unobstructed view of the city. Eat your bar-b-que on top of your car and watch as the sun goes down. A perfect Nashville day.
Does Nashville sound like a place you’d like to explore? See available positions at Stability Healthcare and get a start on your next adventure!
Most people look to books as a form of escape from their challenging work and home lives. So for a travel nurse, a book about infectious diseases or bedpans might not seem like the obvious choice for that perfect airplane or train read. But nurses also have to stay up to date and informed, and sometimes a really good medical book can make you more excited to go to work in the morning. Here are five books that every travel nurse should read.
The Nurse’s Story by Carol Gino
Carol Gino has done, and seen, it all. In her career as a nurse she’s worked in the Emergency Room, Intensive Care, the Burn Unit, Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics, Pediatric Intensive Care, and Hospice Care for the terminally ill. And her 1997 novel on the trials of life as a nurse was an instant classic. Particularly if you’re new to nursing, Gino’s book is a window into what is to come, whether it is leaving work after a patient has died for the first time, and wondering how to shed that feeling of loss coming home to your family, or making difficult decisions on how to treat a patient’s unbearable pain. Gino’s book is a lesson in empathy and also explores ethical questions that undoubtedly every nurse will encounter in their lifetime. But it also shines light on the joy and the love found in the job. What it means to bring a new life into the world, or to hold a person’s hand as their journey ends.
Gino’s book is both gutting and hopeful. It would be a great book to gift to friends and loved ones who want to know more about what your job entails. Gino also offers a sigh of relief for nurses who have been working for a long time, as she addresses compassion fatigue and how to deal with burnout.
You can order her book on Amazon for $14.95 here.
Hitting the Road: A Travel Guide to Nursing by Shalon Kearney
Shalon Kearney is a travel nursing veteran. And in her 2002 book, she offers a short and no-nonsense guide to “hitting the road” as a travel nurse. She has complete listings for 70 health care staffing agencies, she offers tax and financial advice, tips on planning international travel, and also offers ways to self-assess, providing useful check-ins for how to track your improvement as a nurse even as you’re on the move. This all-inclusive guide is a breezy read, and can be a life-saver for nurses just starting in the industry. Kearney takes some of the seemingly-impossible parts of the job and breaks them into easy and understandable steps.
Buy it on Kindle Books for $9.95 here.
One Nurse At A Time: On A Mission: A Personal Journey into the Heart of Humanitarian Nursing by Sue Averill and Elizabeth Coulter
For a less clinical and more uplifting and breezy read on travel nursing, Averill and Coulter’s book full of stories is wholly satisfying. Their 2017 book captures the adventurous and exciting spirit of travel nursing. Whether it’s taking place in an African riverboat or just a particularly goofy day in the emergency room, this book will remind you why your job, despite all it’s challenges, is fun. And more importantly, following these nurses on their humanitarian journey to change the world will remind you why your job is meaningful. Averill and Coulter are women to aspire to, and they’re also a barrel of laughs.
This book is actually free on Kindle Unlimited, or you can buy it for $12.99 in paperback here.
When Nurses Hurt Other Nurses: Hurt Nurses: Recognizing and Overcoming the Cycle of Nurse Bullying by Cheryl Dellasega, Sigma Theta Tau International Staff
Anyone who has spent time in this industry knows that it can sometimes be toxic. Nurses often go underpaid, and hospitals and clinics that are understaffed create a tense environment for employees who have to juggle responsibilities that should have been divided by a much larger staff. Younger nurses can face brutal treatment from managing nurses who have already weathered the storm of a nursing career. And this can be even more true for travel nurses, who are often new to a well-oiled machine. When you’re in a tough situation at work, it’s easy to think you’re the only one. It’s also easy to think it’s completely your fault. That’s why this book, published in 2011, was groundbreaking.
It explains the history of nurse bullying and examines why this toxic behavior occurs and looks at ways to prevent it. It includes workshops and tipsheets inside to help nurses in real time deal with difficult situations that arise.
One nurse on GoodReads said, “As someone who has been bullied, this was an important book for me to read. It helped me work through some of my feelings, and my anger. I am thinking of having it sent to my former supervisor and/or the COO who also played a part in the entire bullying experience.
It is nice to know that in some places around the world, bullying is recognized in the nursing profession and steps are being taken to stop the cycle.”
Buy it at Barnes & Noble for $25.34 here.
Highway Hypodermics: Travel Nursing 2019 by Epstein Larue
This is the bread and butter. The 300-page guide that leaves no stone unturned in pursuing travel nursing. Epstein Larue, a Cirrus Medical Staffing traveler, has been updating her helpful guide to how to find jobs as a travel nurse, how to balance expenses, and more, for over a decade. So you can trust that her most recent addition put out last year has literally everything you could ever want to know about being a travel nurse. She’ll guide you through finding that perfect travel assignment, negotiating contracts, and even getting the proper vaccinations and health checks. This is a must-read if you’re looking to branch out into travel nursing.
You can buy the most recent edition on Kindle for $9.99 here.
BONUS: Travel Nurse Coloring Book
Who doesn’t love a good coloring book? Destress while also recording some of your sweetest moments with patients with this whimsical coloring book made specifically for travel nurses.
Want to explore more about travel nursing opportunities?
Stability Healthcare is an industry leader in travel nursing. Check out our Travel nursing jobs page for dozens of listings for high-paying gigs all across the United States. If you still have questions, contact our representatives. They are always available to help you start a fascinating career in the travel nursing field.Read More
Anywhere between 50 to 70 million US adults struggle with a sleeping disorder. Travel nurses are no exception. As a travel nurse, it’s easy to struggle with sleeping habits as you work long hours. Not to mention, moving from one state to another can often leave you with a jet-lag-like sleeping pattern that disrupts your energy, stress, and anxiety levels.
There are so many factors that interfere with sleep, that one can hardly find a one to control them all. However, you can develop healthy sleeping habits to help you find restorative sleep every night. Keep reading for some science-backed tips to get better sleep.
1. Set a Schedule
Having a sleeping schedule is paramount for travel nurses. As your working hours can shift, your time zones vary, and your workdays fluctuate, a sleeping schedule helps you stay consistent. Studies suggest that going to bed and waking up at the same time is beneficial for long-term sleep quality.
For better sleep, consider going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Keep in mind, this might be challenging at first, but even if all you had was a few hours of sleep, wake up at your scheduled time and work your way up to sleeping seven to eight hours a night.
2. Use Light to Manage Your Circadian Rhythms
You probably know that your circadian rhythms regulate your sleep-wake cycle. It responds to light or darkness exposure, which means how we interact with these throughout the day will impact our sleeping cycle.
Make sure you’re getting enough sun and light exposure during the day to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. A critical aspect during the winter months and for travel nurses serving in states that have low sun exposure. One study says getting at least two hours of sun exposure a day can improve your sleep patterns by 80 percent.
Additionally, you also want to be wary of blue light at night. Nighttime light confuses your brain, making it believe it’s still daytime, which suppresses the release of melatonin hormones, further disrupting sleep cycles. Stay away from blue light at least two hours before bedtime, and make sure your bedroom is free of any bright lights.
3. Create the Ideal Sleeping Environment
Where we sleep is as essential as every other piece of advice on this list. While as a travel nurse, you won’t always be able to set everything up to your preference, you should try to keep specific guidelines on your bedroom to help you sleep better.
To start, make sure you’re sleeping on a comfortable and supportive mattress. If the one available at your housing location, consider investing in a mattress topper to guarantee comfort. Keep things like external noise, lighting, and temperature controlled. One study believes temperature is the biggest disruptor when it comes to sleep. Keep the room anywhere between 60 to 67 degrees or a temperature that feels cold but comfortable.
4. Watch Your Diet
What you eat during the day can impact your sleeping cycle as well. Stay away from cigarettes, alcohol, and of course, caffeine if you’re struggling with your sleep. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, avoid any consumption of caffeinated foods or drinks after 2 pm.
Additionally, make sure you time your dinners accordingly. Late-night eating can disrupt the natural secretion of melatonin, disrupting your sleeping cycle. However, if hunger strikes, consider a light late-night snack at least 45 minutes before bedtime. Try warm milk, oatmeal, yogurt, mozzarella cheese, crackers with cheddar, or turkey with cream cheese.
5. Find a Sleeping Routine
Work-related worries, lifestyle woes, and other stressful thoughts can mess up with your sleeping schedule. Consider finding the right sleeping technique to signal your brain and body is bedtime. Take a hot bath or shower, try essential oils, practice meditation. Maybe go through a short yoga or stretching routine before heading to bed. Breathing techniques also help.
Find a sleeping routine that works for you, and just as your waking-up and going-to-bed schedule, stick to this routine every day. After a while, your brain will immediately tell you’re getting ready for bedtime and start making you feel more rested and sleepy.
6. Avoid Taking Naps
Skipping daytime naps might be a daunting ask for travel nurses. While naps can be beneficial, they can also confuse your body’s internal clock. The truth is, short and scheduled naps can be helpful and improve brain function. The problem is that long naps — over 30 minutes — make your brain think it’s time for bedtime, leaving you more exhausted than before and hurting your sleeping patterns when it’s time to sleep.
If you have difficulties sleeping at night, avoid daytime napping as much as possible. Instead of crashing in the middle of the day, look forward to a complete sleep session every night.
7. Rule Out Sleeping Disorders
Last but not least, make sure you’re not dealing with a sleeping disorder. If you’re following all the tips outlined before, you even incorporated sleeping aid supplements such as melatonin to your nutrition plan, and you’re still struggling, something else might be happening.
Going back to the start, almost 70 million people in the US have some sleeping disorders. Speak with your primary care physician to look at your options. Maybe it might be time to talk to a sleep therapist and get to the root cause of your poor sleep.Read More
While you can escape many aspects of a traditional work environment as a travel nurse, you cannot escape taxes. As if filing taxes wasn’t overly complicated already, your role as a travel nurse makes navigating taxes challenging. From figuring out your total income to wondering if you have a tax house, and even trying to see what falls under deductions, this simple guide will steer you in the right direction.
Understanding Your Income as a Travel Nurse
Unlike staff nurses who work under a specific taxable salary, travel nurses also have a non-taxable income. Besides your hourly pay, you also receive additional payments that fall under the non-taxable category, also known as stipends. Both of these together are what make up your total income.
When you work with a travel nurse agency, it’s under both of your interests to keep your base rate low and have additional stipends, which cover meals, housing, and other work-related expenses.
However, to qualify for those non-taxable payments, you need to provide the IRS with a tax home.
Figuring Out Your Tax Home
A tax home is the most significant differentiator between travel nurses and traditional staff nurses. The IRS defines a tax home as the city or general area where your primary place of business or work is located, regardless of where your family home is. For example, if you work in New York but live in New Jersey, your tax home would be New York.
To qualify for a tax home, you must prove to the IRS that you visit your primary residence at least once every twelve months and pay for the expenses required to maintain this home.
If you can’t prove that you have a tax home, then you’ll be taxed on those non-taxable stipends we mentioned earlier.
Beware of State Taxes
The general due date to file your taxes is April 15th. However, travel nurses need to prepare well in advance. Since you can often find yourself working at two or three different states at any given year, this means you have to pay non-resident taxes in every state you worked. This is in addition to your permanent tax home.
Be mindful of the different tax laws and regulations of each state. If you’re working with a travel nurse agency, ask them about the various tax laws on each state and see if you can find an experienced accountant who can help you navigate your taxes across the country.
5 Tips for Filing Your Taxes as a Travel Nurse
Getting ready to file your taxes as a travel nurse is not much different than what the rest of the workforce has to do. However, due to the nature of your role, there are a few things to keep in mind to help you make sure you have everything you need for a successful tax filing.
Work With a Professional
Unless you’re a tax professional or an accountant working with the experts in the field is the best way to go. Because of the number of variables that play into your tax buckets, consulting with a professional will help you make sure you’re tapping into all deductibles and taking advantage of all the vessels available for travel nurses.
Ask about Deductions
Just like everyone else, travel nurses are eligible for various tax deductions. Some tax deductions available to you, include:
- Non-taxable stipends such as housing, meals, and incidentals
- Travel reimbursements including public transportation, gas, and airfare
- Professional expenses including tuition, membership fees of professional organizations, malpractice insurance costs, and dry cleaning expenses for work clothes
It’s a hassle, and keeping records is something that takes time and commitment. However, keeping records of everything will help you avoid audits and make sure you’re taking advantage of every possible deduction. Keep your travel contacts, have a mileage log, and save every receipt related to your stipends from proving to the IRS these expenses.
Remember to Stay Around
Ideally, you want to do whatever you can to qualify for a tax home. Even though one of the perks of being a travel nurse is location flexibility, you still want to be mindful of how you move around. Avoid working for more than 12 months in a location that is not your tax home. Return to your tax home at least once a year or after the end of every assignment. And as always, don’t forget to keep records of your trips.
File On Time
With all the traveling and moving around, it’s easy to miss the filing date. Especially if you have to file non-resident taxes in various states. To avoid missing the multiple deadlines, file your taxes as soon as you can collect all necessary documents.
As always, remember to reach out to your travel nurse agency. While they might not be able to give you professional tax advice, they’ll be more than happy to direct you to someone who can. On many occasions, travel nurse agencies work with specialized accountants and tax professionals who understand the travel nursing industry.Read More
Perhaps, the biggest perk of being a travel nurse is the flexibility to choose your schedule. Travel nurses get to explore the world while fulfilling their career and passion. If you’re looking for your spring assignments, why not pair your destination with the right city to visit during this season. Check out these top-ranking cities to visit during spring, and whether you’re going on an assignment or as personal leisure, you’re bound to enjoy these cities at their fullest potential.
1. Manhattan, New York
Let’s start with New York City. During spring, you get a quieter time in the city, with fewer people overall. Not to mention, the weather is divine, not too hot or too cold, just between the 50s and low 70s. Walk around the bloomed city and embrace spring at its finest by taking a stroll down Central Park.
Don’t miss the orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden, when thousands of orchids from around the world transform the garden into a majestic tropical jungle. In the subject of flowers, stop by the Macy’s flower show and see close to a million flowers perfectly laid out around the store.
Enjoy the weather and take a short trip to Conney Island and explore New York from a different point of view. Finally, take advantage of the multiple spring festivals, and art shows happening around the city for a complete cultural experience.
2. Breckenridge, Colorado
Known as one of the most charming small towns to visit in Colorado, this ski-season favorite is also a must-visit in spring. Not only will lodging be at its cheapest, but you’ll also get to enjoy the beautiful weather as you explore this town.
Don’t miss the Breck spring Beer Festival for a unique artisanal experience. And enjoy some music with the Bud Light Concert Series, usually happening throughout spring.
If you want to live a more adventurous vacation, consider X-country (Nordic skiing), a type of skiing in which the toe of the boot is fixed to the binding in a manner that allows the heel to rise off the ski. Spring-time is the best time of the year to practice this style.
3. Sedona, Arizona
Get ready for a vacation that will blow your mind. Explore the openness and serenity of Arizona and get lost in its trails and canyons. With over more than 100 hiking trails, there always something exciting to try around here. Spring-time is peak season in Arizona thanks to its gorgeous weather, so make sure to plan your stay.
For baseball fans, Arizona is also home to Spring Training practices and games, making it the perfect city to visit during this time of the year.
Overall, you can choose from hiking, horseback riding, or just basking in the amazingness these natural mountains have to offer. Ask around and get an extensive list of all the national parks worth visiting in the area — none will disappoint.
Finally, take some time to relax! Sedona is home to celebrity-worthy spas and retreat hotels. Unplug from everything and enjoy a well-deserved vacation at one of their famous boutique spas.
4. Washington, D.C.
While Washington is a city you can visit year-round, spring is mainly a beautiful season to do so. First of all, the entire town is covered by blossoming cherry trees all over that give this ethereal and magical background to a somewhat cold-looking city. Not to mention, the weather is divine during this time of the year, usually in the high 50s and low 70s.
While you’re there, give yourself a few days to stop by and visit the dozens of historic landmarks. Honestly, it might seem that everywhere you look, you’re staring at a bit piece of history. From the White House to the Capitol and every other museum in between, there are countless opportunities for you to get in touch with your cultural side while visiting Washington.
Before you leave, make sure to stop by Georgetown. This small but crowded area is a must-see while in Washington. Experience a more youthful vibe to the city and bask in the beautiful colorful-painted doors that line up the streets. Stop by a few local bars, and don’t forget to enjoy some shopping at some of the local boutiques.
Remember to reach out to Stability to see if we can help you schedule your assignments during spring at one of these must-visit cities. Make the most out of your role as a travel nurse by exploring the world at the same time.Read More
If you have a never ending stream of long shifts and find yourself often begrudgingly picking up takeout on your meal breaks or ordering in overpriced delivery you barely want, meal prepping may be your new food savior. Yes, it’s extra work on your meal prep day, but do it right and you’ll only have to cook your work meals once for the entire week!
A few basic rules of thumb for any meal prep:
- Try to include a grain, vegetable, and protein in any meal you prep. That will ensure that the meal keeps you full for the rest of your shift.
- There are affordable meal prep containers at almost any store and online. These have convenient sections to keep foods separate and make sure they last a few days without getting soggy. For example, if you’re making the fajita meal prep below, having a separate section for the meat and veggies, one for tortillas or rice, and one for other toppings like salsa or cheese will keep everything nice and fresh.
- Not all leftovers are made equally! Think of meal preps like week-long leftovers. Consider what foods you think are less good as leftovers and which are great. That’s a good starting point.
- Keep any sauces or wet ingredients separate until it’s time to eat. For instance, dipping sauces, salad dressings, and other liquid additions should be in a separate section or container until meal time.
A classic meal prep that you’re not likely to get bored of halfway through the week, this one is prepped mainly on a sheet pan and is a piece of cake to put together. You’ll need:
- Chicken breasts
- Veggies to roast, mainly peppers and onions
- Olive oil
- Any other desired toppings, including avocado, cilantro, cheese, salsa, sour cream
Prep is simple: cut the chicken breasts into strips or chunks, cut the veggies, and then toss them all with oil and seasoning on a baking sheet. Then bake for 15-20 minutes. To assemble the meals, put cooked chicken and veggies in one container or section. Then separate tortillas and any other desired toppings. Things like avocado or cilantro are better when cut fresh, so that may be a quick item you add in the morning (or whenever) before heading to work. You can find the full recipe here!
Greek Couscous Salad
Here’s a great healthy and vegetarian option. A lot of vegetarian meals (falafels, salads, pasta salad, and so on) make great meal prep, since some meat doesn’t reheat great. This one is easy and super fresh. You’ll need:
- Pearled couscous (the bigger stuff!)
- Vegetables, including cucumbers, peppers, red onion, cherry tomatoes, olives, and artichokes
- Dressing ingredients, including red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and dijon mustard
To prep, cook the couscous and chop the veggies (fairly small). Mix the dressing ingredients together and store in small containers or a jar; don’t add it right to the couscous until it’s time to eat or it’ll get soggy and lose texture. Combine the couscous, veggies, and feta in one container and bring the dressing separately. Get the full recipe here!
Roasted Sausage and Vegetable Bowls
A great, veggie-packed meal prep that requires only a sheet pan and a small bit of your time (and money). This sheet pan meal features a smoky dressing and can be served with rice or another grain of your choice (quinoa, couscous, and mashed potatoes would all work). You’ll need:
- Smoked sausage
- Veggies of your choice, including broccoli, red onion, and bell pepper
- Rice (or other grains)
- Dressing ingredients, including olive oil, red wine vinegar, mustard, sugar, and spices
To prep, slice the sausages and chop the vegetables, then roast them all on a sheet pan. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jar, shake, and let sit. To assemble the containers, start with cooked rice, top with the roasted sausage and veggies, and some of the dressing. Save the rest of the dressing and the parsley garnish to add as you heat and eat. For the full recipe, head here.
If none of these meal preps are particularly inspiring, or you’re ready to try something new, consider these ideas:
- Breakfast bowls with potatoes, eggs, meat, and veggies
- Cold peanut noodle salad
- Orzo pasta salad (with cheese, hardboiled eggs, and veggies on the side)
- Quinoa and veggie salad
- Burrito bowls (any meat or beans)
- Turkey stir-fry
- Hummus and falafel bowls
- Roasted chicken and vegetables
- Wraps with side items
- Salsa chicken and rice (in the slow cooker)
- Stuffed peppers
- Overnight oats