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!
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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.
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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!
There’s always been an emphasis on washing hands – you’ve heard it from your parents, from your middle school health teacher, from the employee posters on the wall in restaurant bathrooms. However, many are unaware of its extreme importance, and how effective it truly is in preventing illness and disease. Handwashing helps protect yourself and others from getting sick and is a key factor in helping to stop pandemics, like the recent wave of coronavirus. Despite being taught how hand washing is beneficial, most people don’t know how to wash their hands correctly. Look below for a guide on how to do so.
Why You Should Wash Your Hands
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), proper handwashing can help prevent the passing of infections and germs between people. Using water and antibacterial soap mostly eliminates germs from your hands. This is significant because people often touch their eyes, faces, and mouths, which are the primary orifices through which germs get into the body. Additionally, there are many customs throughout the world that have people touching each other’s hands, like a handshake as a greeting, which can lead to the spread of germs. If a person doesn’t practice proper handwashing, they can also pass along germs through the objects they touch, like handrails, door handles, etc.
Historically, the introduction of handwashing has helped decrease the number of people who get sick with respiratory issues and gastrointestinal illness, especially in more susceptible populations like children. Hand washing can also aid in fighting antibiotic resistance. If there are fewer infections, there will be fewer antibiotics prescribed.
How to Properly Wash Your Hands
- Turn on the faucet, wet your hands, turn off the faucet. You can use any temperature of water. There have been no significant studies that prove warm water is more effective in removing germs while hand washing, which is a huge plus for those whose skin may be irritated by hot water. By turning off the faucet, you’ll save water.
- Apply soap to your hands, lathering all over, including under your fingernails, and scrub for at least 20 seconds. It may seem counterintuitive to turn off the faucet and touch it again to turn it on, but there is no information that there is a significant amount of germs transferred between faucets and hands. Lathering and scrubbing with soap is one of the most important steps while washing your hands. It is much more effective in killing germs versus just washing your hands with water, and the friction helps pick up any microbes or foreign substances (like dirt) that can be on your skin. The ideal time for scrubbing is 20 seconds. If you have a hard time singing, you can think or hum the alphabet song twice.
- Rinse with clean water. After you’re done, turn off the faucet. This will ensure that you get all of the soap off your hands. If there is any leftover residue, it could cause potential skin irritation. Although many people in the past have recommended using a paper towel to touch the faucet and turn it off, there is no evidence that supports that this is an accurate safety measure against germs. Instead, it can lead to paper towel waste.
- Dry your hands. To dry your hands, use either a clean towel or air dry them. Studies that examine the benefits of using hand dryers are lacking, so as of now, a clean towel or air drying is the best method.
When and how to use hand sanitizer
Hand sanitizer is not interchangeable for hand washing. According to the CDC, soap and water is capable of eliminating more germs than hand sanitizer. Additionally, hand sanitizer is less effective when hands are visibly dirty (think dirt, oil, grease, etc.) However, if soap and water aren’t available, hand sanitizer is better than nothing.
A person should use a hand sanitizer that is made up of at least 60% alcohol. Typically, only a small amount is needed, but the label on the bottle will specify how much a person should use. Squeeze a dollop onto one palm and then rub your hands together until both hands are covered and dry.
There are many misconceptions about how to properly wash your hands. Clearly, correct handwashing is especially important during flu seasons (look at Stability Healthcare’s blog post about Coronavirus here), but the main priority is to always practice the right way of handwashing.
As a reminder, Stability Healthcare offers multiple healthcare plans when you’re a travel nurse. The best way to not get sick is to use prevention methods, like hand washing or using hand sanitizer in cases when you’re not able to use soap and water. Keep in mind that you’re not just keeping yourself safe, but you’re keeping others safe too!Read More
As a travel nurse, you’re at the frontlines of defense against the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As confusion, anxiety, and fear continue to escalate, the outbreak shows no slowing signs with more than 101,900 confirmed cases, 3,486 deaths, and 94 countries with cases, as of March 7th. Let’s explore the various ways you can stay safe as a travel nurse.
Keep Up with the Updates
While you don’t have to read every five-minute alert about the Coronavirus, knowing the basics is paramount. What we know about the COVID-19 virus right now is that it spreads person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced by coughs or sneezes. There’s some belief that if a person touches a surface infected with COVID-19 and then touches their nose, mouth, or eyes, the virus can also enter the system.
The incubation period is anywhere between 2-14 days, with symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms are very similar to the common flu or a cold.
How to Stay Safe as a Travel Nurse
Although there’s no way to prevent the infection, taking careful measurements is your best defense against the Coronavirus. The CDC recommends that all healthcare professionals working throughout the COVID-19 outbreak to practice Standard Precautions, Contact Precautions, and Airborne Precautions.
- Hand Hygiene: using alcohol-based wipes and washing your hands. Remember to do this before and after touching a patient, even if you use gloves, after contact with fluids or blood, after aseptic tasks, and after glover removal.
- Wear Personal Protective Equipment: always wear gloves, gowns, goggles, and face shields, as well as N95-or higher respirators.
- Use Disposable Patient-Care Equipment: if there’s multiple-patient equipment that can’t be disposed of, then clean and disinfect the equipment before re-using.
- Limit transport of patient: make sure patients are in a room that requires minimal interaction outside of the room, even for medical purposes.
- Follow Etiquette Procedures: adhere to respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, hand hygiene, and triage procedures throughout the visit.
Other tips to keep in mind:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
- Avoid touching any public surfaces, bathroom handles, doors, etc.
Myths and Facts about the Coronavirus
With so much information out there, it can be challenging to differentiate what’s real from what’s not. Make sure you’re always fact-checking updates with organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), who continue to share valid information every hour.
COVID-19 Is Deadly – Myth
Fact: Not to degrade the toll of the losses to Coronavirus, but so far, the fatality rate for this disease is still under four percent. Almost 80% of the cases report mild symptoms, with some people reporting no symptoms at all. At the moment, those who are at higher risk are people over the age of 60, smokers, and those with underlying medical conditions. Not to mention, fatalities are linked t further complications exacerbated by the virus, not the COVID-19 infection itself.
The Virus Only Affects Old People – Myth
Fact: While older populations are at higher risk, the Coronavirus can affect people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. What’s true, though, is that older people are more susceptible to complications and, as with any other virus, have a harder time fighting the illness.
Alcohol Wipes Kill the Virus – Myth
Fact: While it’s partially true that using rubbing-alcohol wipes can help disinfect your hands, it won’t prevent the virus from entering your system. Make sure you’re using a hand sanitizer with over 60% alcohol to kill microbes. Using hand sanitizing wipes will also help you get the bacteria off your hands and surfaces.
More Resources for Healthcare Professionals
As a travel nurse, odds are you’re taking the necessary steps to stay safe already. Beware that if you’re in the process of starting a new assignment, or if you’re being transferred to a new hospital to support the Coronavirus efforts, you’re likely to get tested before you can start your new position.
In the meantime, take the news with a grain of salt. Stay updated with your hospital’s prevention and containment plans. For more, here are some resources by the CDC:
- Healthcare Professional Preparedness Checklist For Transport and Arrival of Patients Potentially Infected with COVID-19
- Interim Guidelines for Collecting, Handling, and Testing Clinical Specimens from Patients Under Investigation (PUIs) for COVID-19
- Sequence for Putting on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Important Steps for Using NIOSH-Approved N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators
- Healthcare Professionals: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
As always, if you have questions about how to manage your travel nursing assignments during the Coronavirus outbreak, feel free to contact our representatives for guidance.
Travel nursing opens you up to see much more of the country, live in new places, and explore more work opportunities and connections than you otherwise could in a traditional role. We’ve got all you need to help you find the best travel nursing jobs.
There are a lot of tips and tricks out there from experienced travel nurses; helpful solutions to ensure that you make the best of your time as a travel nurse and end up with the best placements and agencies for your needs. Choosing travel nursing is a commitment, so you want to be sure you get the best opportunities while you explore this exciting field!
Working with Your Recruiter
One key step for finding great jobs is finding a great recruiter and developing a good relationship with them. Your recruiter is your primary go-between for you and the best possible jobs and healthcare facilities. They act as a mentor, providing guidance as you start and progress your career. A good recruiter prioritizes your wants and needs for an assignment and finds you the best placement for your lifestyle, while also answering questions and advising along the way.
This means that the first step in getting great jobs is finding a recruiter you trust and work well with. A frustrating or stressful recruiter is only going to make your job-finding process unpleasant, the last thing you want as you embark on new assignments.
Here are some quick ways to tell that you’ve found a good recruiter:
- They respond to your emails quickly. You shouldn’t have to wait more than a day or two to hear from them if you have questions or requests.
- They’re organized with the information they provide and don’t ask you for last-minute paperwork or information, causing unneeded stress.
- They’re experienced. They’ve helped plenty of other traveling nurses and know the ins and outs of finding great placements.
- They don’t leave you out of the loop. If they aren’t providing pay details upfront, change the info at the last minute, or stop returning emails, they’re not putting your needs first.
- They have your interests at heart. You know they’re actually out there putting in the work to find you a great assignment and great pay.
Once you have a recruiter you like and trust, it pays to be respectful and kind to them in return. If they also enjoy working with you, they’re even more likely to put in the extra effort to find you the best jobs. It may seem like common sense, but a good recruiter is the last person you want to be terse or unpleasant toward!
It also helps to be very direct with them. You may be applying in multiple places or have other recruiters. It won’t offend them if you let them know all the other places you’re in talks with, applications you’re putting in, and recruiters you’re working with. The only thing it will do is help them get a better understanding of your needs and plan.
Get as Much Info as Possible Up Front
Never consider a company, facility, or placement without getting all the facts. There are countless factors to consider, and if any details are being kept from you, you’re not able to make the best possible decision. Before you ask your recruiter to send your resume for a specific position, make sure you know:
- Pay package details
- Stipends and perks
- Working hours
- Patient load and other facility details
- Orientation process and time frame
- The specific hospital’s location and trauma level
Then do the research and comparison shop. You don’t have to apply to and choose the first job you see. Consider your options. Compare pay packages, benefits, locations, and schedules. If you know you’ll need day or night shift or a flexible schedule, make those considerations a major part of your decisions about where to apply and what placement you’ll accept. Be sure to explore the differences between national and regional agencies. Decide whether you prefer an agency with one point of contact or don’t mind multiple. Explore unique benefits and how they might help you or factor into a decision.
If you have friends who are fellow travel nurses, don’t be afraid to ask for their input! Those who are in the same shoes can be some of the best resources for finding the truly great recruiters, agencies, locations, and healthcare companies. You’re more likely to trust your friends and family than strangers, so if you have those connection resources, use them!
Use Online Search Engines to Your Advantage
There’s a reason Stability Healthcare (and others like us) exists. It is not easy sorting through the complex web of travel nursing positions, agencies, and recruiters to find the best ones for you. Thankfully, websites like ours make it much easier to compare options, make choices, and even find resources to help you on the job (that’s what our blog is here for!). Our job searching platform simplifies the searching process substantially, providing upfront details, including pay package information, one of the most important components for any placement decision. We also have an expert team on hand to help you set interviews and land jobs. Stability Healthcare removes the need for a recruiter. If you prefer to work on your own to choose assignments, we give you all the resources to do so.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
Any interview can be intimidating, especially for a position in the medical world. However, being a good interviewee is key to any career, and being prepared for one (or several!) can help ease your mind. Below are a few tips to prepare yourself when applying for a travel nurse position.
Get plenty of rest and relaxation beforehand
Interviewing can be stressful enough, and if you don’t get enough sleep beforehand, it can be even more so! Make sure to get plenty of sleep before your interview, so you feel refreshed and ready to go. Refrain from making any late-night plans that will deter you from preparing for your interview. You only get one first impression, so set aside some time for self-care.
Dress for success
While interviewing for a travel nurse position, you want to put your best self forward. If you have an in-person interview, you want to dress and act for the part. This also includes any video or Skype interviews. Hospitals are professional settings, so you want to dress towards the business-formal side. Basic makeup, simple jewelry, and neutral colors are all go-tos, however, feel free to show some of your personality (like a fun scarf or bright nails). Don’t be pressured to wear anything that makes you feel stiff or too overdressed. Finding a balance of professional and comfortable will make you feel and look good for your interview.
Research the hospital prior to your interview
If you’re interviewing for a specific hospital, research it beforehand. Know the basics of the hospital, like its larger departments, important employees, and the area it’s in. By showing your interest, it’ll reflect motivation (a key attribute of an ideal candidate). While researching, write down any questions you may have, so you can ask them during or after your interview.
Have your employee history ready
As an ideal candidate, you want to be organized. Take a moment to sit down and collect all of your personal history that may be pertinent to your future travel nurse position, like any schooling and previous-related experience. If the interview is over the phone, physically write this out in a list so you ensure you don’t forget to communicate any related experience. If the interview is in person, bring this list with you and read over it a few minutes before your interview to refresh your mind. As stated on the Stability Healthcare FAQ page, “the expectation for travelers is to hit the ground running so the stronger your background, the easier it will be to acclimate to a position.” So, be honest with your experience, but make sure you don’t leave anything out.
Additionally, your interviewer will most likely ask you overall questions about your work history and ethics. Have a few examples ready for likely questions. Here are some you may be asked:
- Have you ever had conflict in the workplace? If so, how did you handle it?
- Why did you leave your last position?
- What are your best qualities in the workplace?
- What are some qualities that you need to work on?
- Name some particular accomplishments you’ve had while being a travel nurse.
- Why are you qualified to work in this position?
Have handy tools nearby
The more organized you are, the more professional and less frazzled you’ll be during your interview. If you’re interviewing over the phone, keep other tools at arm’s length, like your smartphone so you can reference its calendar to plan ahead any big life events, etc. that you’ll have to work around. Also, keep a pen and paper (or another note-taking device) so you can write down key information you learn during the interview.
Think of which qualities are desired in a travel nurse
There are a few qualities that places tend to look for in travel nurses, so communicate how you fit into those expectations. As the Stability Healthcare site points out, these qualities include, but are not limited to flexibility, a good attitude, being organized, friendly, and having a sharp mind. As previously stated above, travel nurses are expected to hit the ground running, so being flexible is a key aspect. As a travel nurse, you have to learn hospital regulations and people rather quickly, so learning on the fly is a desirable characteristic. Overall, you want to have a good attitude, so show up to the interview with a smile on your face and a friendly attitude.
Prepare questions to ask your interviewer
Ahead of your interview, write down any pertinent questions you have, especially those specific to the position you are interviewing for. Not only will this show that you’re involved and motivated to learn more about the position, but it will give you a better insight into expectations for the position.
A few general questions you can ask:
- What does a typical shift look like?
- Is there a dress code?
- Are there any overtime shifts and will I be expected to work on the weekends?
- What is the time-off policy?
- How are people scheduled?
- Will I float between units?
- What are the main expectations for this position?
Following these tips can make your interview seem less daunting. If you have multiple interviews, most of these tips can be applied to each one. However, as mentioned in tip #2, research each position you’re applying for so you’re best prepared. Good luck!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
If your new assignment has brought you deep into the Midwest to Milwaukee, you may be wondering how you’re going to spend your time off (and survive the cold). While the answer to the latter is simple – lots of layers, warm blankets, working heating, and staying inside when the temps go negative – finding the best things to do on your nice-weather days off may still be a puzzle. Here are tips from a Milwaukee native on how to spend your day off in and around Milwaukee.
Enjoy brunch at Cafe Benelux
The name of this restaurant, derived from the combination of Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxemburg, is just the beginning of its coolness. In warm weather, there’s probably no better place to be than the Cafe Benelux rooftop dining area, bedecked in stunning decor and complete with 360 views of the historic Third Ward. Everything on the menu is a hit, but their burgers, French toast, chicken & waffles, and frites are all beloved and exceptional.
Stroll through the Third Ward
Speaking of Third Ward views, this neighborhood of Milwaukee is inarguably the best in the city, and perfect for a walk and window shopping on a warm day. Take a leisurely walk through the historic streets, take in the river views, stop in high-end shops and make some purchases if the mood strikes. And at some point, stroll some of the well-known RiverWalk and enjoy the various sights the city has to offer.
Grab a picnic lunch from the Public Market
One of the most delicious places in the city, the Milwaukee Public Market (once again located in the fantastic Third Ward) is a must-stop destination whenever you get hungry. The long building is packed with a huge variety of food vendors and mini-restaurants, including an Italian deli (everything they make is delish), Mexican bar and grill, olive oil peddler, produce stand, cheese shop, bakeries, a fish monger, and plenty more. Walk around every vendor first, then swing back to your favorites and pick up a variety of packable foods and drinks to take with you.
Bring your picnic lunch for a walk by the lake
On a sunny or warm day, the Milwaukee lakefront is absolutely the place to be. Much of the lakefront is adorned with a paved walking trail, so you can easily stroll for quite a while, watching sailboats and birds on the lake while you select the perfect spot to sit and relax with your picnic lunch. If you’re feeling more active, rent a bike or paddle boat (for the inland pond), have a run, or join a game of beach volleyball at one of the beaches. A cone from Northpoint Custard is also probably in order – it’s a Wisconsin staple, after all.
Enjoy art and beautiful architecture
While you’re already on the lakefront, stopping at an art museum is always a good bet. The Milwaukee Art Museum is a world-renowned building in itself, and even just stopping inside to see the views from the picturesque Calatrava is worth the time. But if you’re an art lover, be sure to explore the rest of the sprawling museum. If you prefer stunning European architecture and landscaping, Villa Terrace is a better art museum selection. Located just a ways up the lakefront (in a fantastic neighborhood to explore on foot), this breathtaking building is most known for its sweeping, massive back lawn, perfectly landscaped with countless flowers, plants, and a falling water feature.
Grab a burger and drink at SafeHouse
Undoubtedly Milwaukee’s coolest and quirkiest bar, this hole in the wall spot is actually a bit hard to find. The reason is simple–it was a genuine speakeasy during Prohibition, and still maintains the various quirks and secrets that came with that purpose. The entrance can be found in an alley off Front St., right along the river. In the entryway, a staff member will ask for the password–but don’t worry if you don’t know it; they’ll just make an embarrassing request for you to enter (think hula hooping or doing a little skit). Once inside, the place is a maze of fun surprises and things to see. Ask any bartender about the different features of the spy-themed building, enjoy some delicious cocktails and surprisingly good burgers, and be sure to use the secret exit on your way out.
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Does Milwaukee sound like a place you’d like to explore? See available positions at Stability Healthcare and get a start on your next adventure!Read More
Traveling by yourself can be intimidating, and if you’re a travel nurse in a new city, it can be especially so! It may seem scary at first, but the opportunities you receive as a travel nurse are certainly worth it. There are several ways that you can be safer while traveling alone. Below are a few tips, plus a few fun suggestions, that will help ease your mind. Remember, if you have any specific questions, head on over to the Stability Healthcare website or ask your recruiter for more information.
Familiarize yourself with the neighborhood
Chances are you’ll be working in a neighborhood that you’ve never lived in. If you have the opportunity to check out the neighborhood prior to moving, you should do so. This way, you can get a feel for the area before you commit to housing. Does the neighborhood feel relatively safe? If you’re taking public transit, is it far from the bus/train stop? Does the neighborhood look taken care of? These are all aspects you want to consider. Depending on which city you’re in, neighborhood safety can also change block by block. A neighborhood at night can seem very different than a neighborhood during the day. Take a walk at all times of the day. Look online to see if you can find any first-hand stories from those who live in the neighborhood. The best place to get factual information is to either experience it yourself or to talk to someone who has.
Keep your belongings on you safe
If you’re walking alone, make sure that whatever bag you’re storing your items in is secure. Refrain from using open-top bags like tote bags. Instead, use a backpack with a zipper or a side bag that you can fasten. Keep all of your valuables in the main pouch of a backpack, and at the bottom of your bag. Instead of carrying your wallet or cellphone in your pocket, make sure it’s also secure in your bag. Overall, pack light. This will help prevent any pickpocketing.
Always carry your cell phone and have a portable charger
Sometimes it’s tempting to leave your phone at home to disconnect from the world of social media or to clear your head, but it’s always safer to bring it with you. You never know when you may need it, like in case of an emergency or if you need to Uber home instead of taking transit. It’s also incredibly helpful for directions. A portable charger will help ensure that your phone is always able to be used. It also comes in handy if you decide to adventure after your shift and you need to be able to get home in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
Pack smart, not heavy. This especially rings true if you’re traveling for a shorter amount of time. Instead of traveling with valuables – like televisions, other large electronics, expensive jewelry, etc. – leave them in a trusted area or with a trusted person. This will not only help you be less of a target for burglary, but it will also help you move easier. Only take the necessities. If you’re working in the summer in California, you most likely won’t be needing that heavy down jacket or mittens. If you’re in Maine in the winter, you won’t be needing those flips flops. Look ahead and plan out what you’re bringing so you don’t over or under pack.
Plan out a budget
Sitting down and looking at your finances is extremely important when it comes to being a travel nurse. You want to accommodate for all of the necessities – housing, food, activities, insurance, etc. It’s best to sit down and write everything down so you know what to expect and how much you can spend. Account for more spending than you think you will. Surprise expenses always pop-up, and since you’ll be alone, you’ll have to hold yourself accountable.
Take advantage of traveling alone, but when you do, let someone know where you are going
One of the biggest benefits of traveling alone is the ability to do what you want to do. Try that funky restaurant down the street, check out that movie you’ve been meaning to see, or visit that national park a short driveway. Your time outside of your shift is yours and only yours to use! Just make sure to let someone know where you’re going if it’s for an extended period of time. On most smartphones you can share your location with someone, allowing them to check on you periodically. This is beneficial when you’re traveling alone, or in case something happens and you need help. In particular, sharing your location is important if you’re doing a physical activity that will place you out of your comfort zone, like hiking or camping.
Scared you’ll get lonely? Consider a pet
There are many opportunities for a travel nurse to bring a pet. If you’re worried that you’ll be lonely or feel like a pet (like a dog) might make you feel safer, consider bringing your furry friend along with you! Just make sure that your position and housing will allow you to travel with an animal beforehand.
Meet other travel nurses and friends along the way
If you’re looking to adventure while you’re a travel nurse, make friends! Just because you may be traveling to a new city alone, doesn’t mean you have to do everything alone. At the end of the day, the safest option is to do activities with others. While you’re a travel nurse, you have plenty of opportunities to meet people, whether they’re other travel nurses or if they frequent the same café down the street like you do. Be smart about meeting people, but be open to it.
Are you feeling inspired to pack your bags and hit the road on your next placement? Stability Healthcare can help you find your next placement!Read More
So you’ve decided travel nursing is your next path or career move, or you’ve made the transition from traditional nursing to travel nursing. What’s next? There are a lot of components to consider when planning for your new life, applying to companies, or accepting a job offer. While a lot of the fun and excitement of this career path is the chance to try out new cities and locations and get to explore more of the world while developing your career, the less appealing part can definitely be considering and comprehending your new pay package at each assignment or stop. One of the major parts of a travel nursing position and job offer is the stipend. This means it should be one of your primary concerns when planning for your life logistics and when choosing an agency or job to accept.
What is this stipend? In the simplest terms, it’s an amount of money provided upfront as a stipend to cover your housing, meals, and incidentals costs while you’re on a travel assignment (technically several stipends covering different needs). As you can imagine, when traveling to new cities for new assignments, you typically won’t have a built-in place to live, or even an idea of the housing options in your new locale. This stipend is a major part of your pay package with each new agency and assignment, and it’s an important factor. Also important are the stipend offerings for food and other expenses you’ll encounter on an assignment, including moving costs. However, it becomes more confusing to understand because each agency handles the housing stipend differently.
Before exploring this stipend in more detail, it’s important to understand the concept of GSA Per Diem Rates. Essentially, the General Services Administration (GSA) has a variety of responsibilities, one of which is determining per diem rates for federal employees, the rates that cover official expenses during business travel and do so tax-free. As travel nursing is often entirely “business travel” these per diem concepts come into play often.
However, while the government powers that be refer to this sum as a per diem, the more accurate and typical terminology in the travel nursing field is a stipend, as that definition (a fixed sum paid as a salary or allowance) is a more accurate fit. Per diem implies “daily” and that’s not as much the case, as travel nursing stipends are typically paid weekly to monthly, depending on the agency and the purpose.
The GSA provides standard per diem lodging rates for most locations and major cities. This means you can look up the governmental rate for federal employees, per day of business travel. For instance, if the GSA rate for a city is $100 per day, you’d have to expect $3000 per month (to meet that daily marker), but that will never be the case. The GSA rates are always assigned as maximum amounts, so it’s not a requirement these markers even be hit for short-term federal employee business travel, let alone long-term nursing workers. These contracts, as opposed to a few days in a hotel, generally span about 13 weeks, and no less than 8. This means two plus months of lodging required for each travel nursing assignment. Travel healthcare workers can usually obtain affordable short-term apartments or great discounts at extended-stay hotels. When agencies assign stipend amounts, they have to believe that you’ll reasonably use the amount they’ve selected on monthly accommodations, and not substantially more or less. So agencies base their provided amounts on the general prices of short-term lodging in the city in question.
In many instances, you’ll be offered either a housing stipend or company-provided lodging. Often, choosing the stipend is the smart financial move. If you take the stipend and manage to find a place that costs less than the allotment, you could walk away with some extra spending money in your pocket each month. There are other, more complicated, possible scenarios, but this is the primary one you’ll encounter with many agencies. It’s also fair to consider how much work you want to put into finding a place to live, and your standards for lodging. If you only want to live in a nice apartment in a particular area, it may be a challenge to hunt down a short-term option within your desired parameters. It may also create undue stress during the moving process, or take some time. In this case, the company-offered housing may be the safest and easiest option. But, if you’re willing to put in some extra work or you don’t mind more of a budget option, you could easily end each month with plenty left in your stipend to use as you please.
Meals and Incidental Expenditures Stipend
Otherwise known as M&IE, this stipend is a completely separate entity of its own and covers food and other expenses incurred during work and business travel. It’s referred to by a few names, so it’s smart to confirm with a new agency how they refer to it in their pay package as you’re assessing options. As with lodging, the GSA has a daily M&IE rate established for cities around the country. You can look up those rates here to get a better idea. From there, it’s established on an agency by agency basis and is very dependent on the other components in the pay package. If an agency is offering a higher M&IE stipend, there’s a good chance they’re also giving you a lower base hourly pay. It’s got to come from somewhere. That’s why it’s crucial to compare and assess all components of any offered pay packages to see where the pros and cons lie and the sum total you’ll be earning and have available to spend on other expenses.
Helpful Tips to Keep in Mind
- If you’re offered a stipend amount and are wondering if it’s high or low for the area you’re assigned, there are online groups and message boards where you can easily reach out to others to see what they were offered in a similar area.
- According to one travel nurse, it’s smart to comparison shop. If you get an offer, compare it to other similar companies for similar locations. Agencies will usually try to match another agency’s stipend if you can prove that it’s higher. If they want to hire you, they also don’t want to lose you right away over a low stipend issue. They’ll want to start off on a good foot as much as you do.
- Travel nursing stipends and pay packages are like a pie: if the agency is offering more for one portion, they will usually be offering less on another, whether that be another stipend, benefits, or overall salary. They will make up for a smaller rate on one benefit by providing more for something else.
- Different states allow different stipends. Just because you got something with an agency at your last location doesn’t mean you can automatically expect the same on a new assignment in a different state.
- You’ll need to keep records to prove various expenses you’re using your stipend for. Keep records of your housing, mileage, food, and so on.
Remember to reach out to Stability to see if you have any questions regarding your stipend. We are here to answer any questions you may have so you can make the most out of your travel nursing experience.Read More