Travel Nursing FAQs: part 2

april18_healthcarepart2 Last fall, we featured common q&a’s for travel-based careers. As a follow-up, and with additional questions and answers, here is part two.

What does it take to become a travel nurse? Do I have enough experience? How long are the assignments? Where would I live? These are just a few of the questions that I am asked on a daily basis by healthcare professionals who are seeking information on a travel nursing career. I thought that it would be helpful to jot down some of these most common questions that I encounter. That way, you, or someone you know, can make an informed decision on whether a travel-based career is the way to go.

1. What are the requirements for becoming a travel nurse?
Typically speaking, facilities request a minimum of at least two years of experience working as an RN. This can vary though depending on your area of specialty, the type of unit, and the facility.

2. Why is there a need for travel nurses?
Typically, the need for travel nurses is a result of an increase in the patient census or from a decrease in current staff – due to vacations, maternity leaves, resignations, retirement and the like. Hospitals will also utilize travelers to help while they are hiring new staff and putting new permanent employees through orientation. Travel nurses help hospitals quickly increase staffing levels without compromising the quality of patient care.

3. How do I get licensed to work in each state?
Each state has its own regulations in terms of licensing requirements. Many states participate in the nurse licensure compact, so if you have a nursing license in one of the compact states (and your permanent residence is in the same state), then you can work in any of the other compact states off of that same license. Super easy! The compact states consist of AR, AZ, CO, DE, ID, IA, KY, ME, MD, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NM, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, and WI. If the compact states do not apply to you, then you will need to apply for a license by endorsement for the state where you will be working. This can be a fairly simple and quick process or long and cumbersome, depending on the state. Your Recruitment Specialist is the best person to guide you as to how to go about obtaining a license for the state where you will be going.

4. Do I always have to work night shift as a travel nurse?
Definitely not! Although many of the available assignments are for the night shift, it is not the only option out there. If you typically work day shifts, don’t fret! You should be able to find the shift of your preference in a great location and at a reputable hospital.

5. How long is the entire job search process from start to finish? And is everything done by telephone?
It depends! Typically, from the time you fill out an application with a company, it is feasible to land a position within 1-2 weeks. Generally speaking, facilities are searching for RNs who can start a position within 4 weeks. So, be prepared for things to move fairly quickly from the time that you decide to take the plunge into the world of travel nursing.

Nurse Managers conduct telephone interviews, which can last anywhere from 10–45 min (depending on the management/interview style). Because this is your only chance to make a good first impression, be sure to review some helpful interview tips with your Recruitment Specialist prior to landing the phone interview. Generally speaking, a job offer is made within hours of the completion of the phone call. In addition, all correspondence with your Recruitment Specialist is done by phone throughout your entire career as a travel nurse. I have worked with some nurses for over 10 years, and have never actually met them in person!

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a technical spin on customer service: it’s not just a call center anymore

headphoneman_april10-converted_0 Ashley Verrill has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has been published or cited in Inc., Forbes,, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. She currently writes software reviews for and is the Managing Editor for the Customer Service Investigator blog.


“The times they are a-changin’”

Companies are currently experiencing a sea of change in the way that they communicate with their customers. Where interactions once exclusively happened over the phone, they now run the digital gamut from social media to live web chat.

One recent Forrester report shows just how quickly this evolution is occurring. In the last three years, customers have increased their use of self-service by 12%, live chat by 24% and communities by 25%.

This shift doesn’t just mean that organizations need to make these channels available to customers, but that they also need new talent to ensure customers have a seamless experience from one communication avenue to another. This will require new talent and a breadth of fresh job titles. Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) will continue to be a mainstay, but executives should also prepare to add other positions to their ranks.


Technical trends: staffing in the customer service industry

1. Customer service employees, the new face of marketing?

In a recent online debate, “Is Customer Service the New Marketing?”, a sentiment resonated that traditional marketing is becoming less effective in today’s business world. Customers don’t listen to what companies say about themselves – they listen to what others are saying about them. As such, customer service is becoming an increasingly important avenue to impact brand perception.

In the future, organizations will likely employ full-time “Self-Service Content Strategists.” Individuals in this role will continually mine for popular topics in call center notes, as well as review web analytics to assess which articles in the self-service community garner the most traffic. At the same time, they will also moderate content created by the customer community and facilitate the sharing of this user-generated material. Their goal: to drive customer retention and return purchases by creating a loyal community of brand advocates.


2. Customer needs require instant answers

Content is meaningless if customers can’t find it. This is particularly important when you consider that 88 percent of people will spend more money with a given brand if they get their issues addressed online and immediately.

In order for the right content to appear when customers type or speak queries, companies must use Natural Language Processing. These sophisticated algorithms essentially interpret words so that the right answer or content is pulled no matter how the question is asked in search bars or in interactive voice systems.

Consider, for example, the difference between asking, “How do I turn on my Xbox?” and “Where is the power button on my gaming console?” Both questions are looking for the same answer, but are asked in very different ways.

NLP technology is needed to make such distinctions, so in the future companies will likely need developers specifically for refining this technology. While most companies will deploy off-the-shelf or open-source NLP technology, an in-house NLP Developer would need to make substantial configurations to apply it to their company’s specific use cases and content. They would also constantly analyze query success rates in order to identify subject areas that still need refining.


3. Automated, socialized responses

According to one report, about 47 percent of social media users have used Facebook, Twitter and other channels for customer service (59 percent for 18–24 year olds). That number is only going to continue to grow; and as a result, companies will need technology to automate that process.

In the future, companies will likely hire dedicated “Social Service Coordinators” to ensure that these technologies work efficiently for the company and its products. These coordinators will constantly be working to refine keyword identifiers that tell the systems what signals a customer service message. If the contact center suddenly gets an influx of calls about a particular product, for example, the coordinator would start listening for combinations of that product name and “help,” “broken,” “angry” and so on.


4. More for mobile devices

Very soon, the majority of interactions companies have with their customers will happen on a mobile device. Consider this, a recent TechCrunch report showed that mobile application usage surpassed desktop browsing for the first time, as far as minutes per day spent online goes.

Companies need to optimize the mobile service experience with support-specific apps. Instead of forcing customers to type out queries on tiny keyboards, these applications will leverage voice and simplified navigation. This will require a dedicated “Mobile Customer Service App Manager” in order to constantly analyze application utilization and performance.


In closing

New companies arise, new products get developed and therefore people will constantly have new needs to be fielded, diagnosed and resolved. The technical take to the ever-present needs of customers is an industry on the rise. There’s always more than one way to do things – and in today’s world, customer service is proving just that.

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Executive Forum, executive ideas: Inspiring Experts

qa_blogpost_4-3-13_0 Staffing Industry Analysts’ Executive Forum is a prominent annual meeting for CEOs, owners and senior-level executives from all sectors and segments of the staffing industry. It provides top industry thinkers, leaders and innovators with the opportunity to discuss strategic issues, developing trends and future opportunities.

This year’s Executive Forum lineup: Inspiring Experts

At the end of February, Eric Gilpin, President of CareerBuilder’s Staffing & Recruiting Group, led a packed house in a session titled Hire Technology: A New Era in Staffing. He used real-life examples of staffing firms that are creating unique client and candidate experiences through mobile technology, the cloud and big data – of which, Randstad’s own Inspiring Experts campaign was featured.

Dan Foley, President of Randstad US Professionals, discussed the initiative and stressed its importance in bridging the rapidly growing skills gap that’s taking place in the US today.

Q&A session: Inspiring Experts

1. What are some issues facing the staffing industry today?
FOLEY: The macro issue of the staffing industry is the shrinking workforce – more people are exiting the workforce than joining it, and we have a skills gap in critical areas for most staffing firms: IT, engineering and healthcare. The new healthcare reform means that 32 million Americans who previously didn’t have health insurance will now have it; therefore, in order to maintain the same doctor/patient ratios, we will need a huge amount of people to join the healthcare industry. However, there are not enough people graduating with healthcare degrees. The same is true of engineering. The U.S. produces 30,000 engineers each year – that’s a decrease of 23 percent in the last 10 years. We need to make an effort to inform students and the general public that we need more workers in these industries.

2. What is Randstad doing to address the skills gap?
FOLEY: We took our new brand platform, went to the students of today and asked them why they weren’t getting degrees in IT, healthcare or engineering. The response was that students thought they had “missed the revolution,” which was startling, given the fact that we can’t find enough people to work in these industries. We decided to produce a campaign, called “Inspiring Experts,” to show people that there is a large demand for jobs in healthcare, IT and engineering.

3. How did you implement Inspiring Experts?
FOLEY: We used our partners at CareerBuilder to help us build a website to get the message across, by asking people to submit videos that addressed the skills gap. We had three categories:
1. Professionals telling the next generation why they think they should go into healthcare, engineering or IT.
2. Students saying how these industries interest them and what they aspire to be.
3. And a creative category, where subjects were judged on the innovation of their approach.

Participants had to leverage their own social networks to get people to vote for their videos, and the winners received prizes. We had 253,000 people view the videos and vote, which we viewed as a very successful campaign. These participants had the opportunity to spread the word in an innovative, progressive way, while also celebrating our brand – which is the thought leadership position we wanted to take.

4. How does this approach to thought leadership benefit your company?
FOLEY: As we develop our brand and value proposition, we can go to clients and say, “We do a lot more than just fill requisitions; we tackle problems in our industry.” Recruiting is simple in many ways – we’re just matching talent; however, because of the size of the industry, it’s becoming more complex. Each one of us has to innovate to make sure we stay on the cutting edge to solve these problems.

Check out the Inspiring Experts video gallery and learn how you can start educating the next generation of the workforce today!

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healthcare, an ever-growing field

healthcareeducationblogimage “Healthcare is an ever-growing field.” I’ve heard this for at least the last decade. And this statement is definitely true—if not more so now than it was ten years ago.

With the Affordable Care Act taking effect soon and the aging population increasing at an alarming rate, healthcare shortages are almost guaranteed. So unless some serious reformations and advancements are made, healthcare will continue to be a growing field.


Physicians: hit the hardest

An area of interest to me, personally, is the specialties that will be hit the hardest by today’s looming shortage. By 2020, there is projected to be a nationwide physician shortage of over 90,000—over half being primary care physicians—according to the new Association of American Medical Colleges workforce projections. The rate of graduating generalist physicians, which includes family practitioners, internists, and pediatricians, is declining rapidly, and has been doing so for almost two decades. One reason for this is that the majority of medical students are going into fellowships after residency rather than going right into a profession in primary care. This is happening for a variety of reasons but primarily it’s due to salary versus workload, work-life balance and simply the status of being highly specialized.

Physicians take a huge amount of risk daily, so to want to be compensated for that is only natural.


When will the wait be over?

There are serious implications for such shortages. The mere ability to get an appointment with one’s primary care physician is difficult, and the longer wait times (weeks sometimes even months) to get an appointment cause more people to head for the ER, even though their condition could easily be handled at the office. Subsequently, ER’s are getting bogged down with non-traumatic patients, which, if persistent will cause medical costs to skyrocket for insurance companies and Medicaid/Medicare.

Primary care physicians are often referred to as gate keepers for the medical specialists. They direct traffic, so to speak, and send patients to specialists as they see fit. Specialists rely on these referrals as a large portion of their patient base. With people going to emergency rooms, hospital employed specialists are getting all of the referrals, which down the road will cause serious damage to the private practice industry.


Finding the cure

The American Medical Association (AMA), medical schools and universities alike are working on ways to combat some of today’s healthcare issues and are working to prepare physicians for the medicine of the future.

There are great strides being made to streamline the educational process as well as to make the primary care profession more attractive to new grads. But, one part of the equation is being overlooked—the lack of residency programs. Many states are building new medical schools but they haven’t created new residencies. Minor problem…and inconveniently enough, new residencies are funded primarily by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services—the same federal agency that’s under extreme budget pressure and is responsible for the provision of benefits to millions of individual beneficiaries. So now what?

One approach, the American Medical Association is campaigning to “accelerate change in medical education”—a topic that has most medical schools more than all ears. They want to pick 20–30 proposals from medical schools to expand on their ideas. From that, they then would like to pick 8–10 of the full-length entries to be awarded a portion of the $10 million grant initiative. According to the AMA, the winners will be graded on “established criteria”—along the lines of the level of innovation and potential impact offered by the proposal, the strength of the idea and the design and the likelihood that other schools could implement the proposed idea.

The intent of this initiative is to facilitate bold structural change over five years at each selected school to support a significant redesign of undergraduate medical education.


Education consolidation

There are also new programs emerging that condense medical education from four years down to three.  Though this is not a new idea, it’s a good one. Some programs even allow medical students to complete their first year of residency while finishing their last year of medical school. Such a reduction could potentially save each student over $50,000 in tuition, supplies and living expenses. This type of accelerated program would be attractive for physicians who just want to get out and start working—and could help balance the current inequality of primary care physicians versus specialists.


In conclusion

Rest assured that there are movements being made to combat the huge healthcare deficiencies projected in a short seven years. Only time will tell if they prove to be successful. But, I’m convinced that healthcare is and will continue to be an ever-growing field.

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Business lessons from The Godfather: It’s not personal. It’s business. (part 3 of 3.)

part3_blogimage Perhaps the fundamental difference in the way that Vito Corleone operated as the Godfather and the way that Michael ran the family business is by this principle alone: how they interpreted what was business and what was personal.

The downfall of Michael, which resulted in him dying alone with no family by his side (the ultimate failure of a man who came from such a large Italian family), is that he took everything personal. He had a vendetta out for anyone who crossed the family – whereas his father seemed more strategic in his undertakings and who he ordered hits on.

In business, it’s important to keep your cool – because that’s when your judgment is the clearest. But, not taking things “too” personally is an art craft and one that requires skill and practice.


“Don’t let anybody kid you. It’s all personal, every bit of business.”
In a less than stable economy, tensions are high – and that means so are people’s emotions.

In a 2009 Forbes article, Jane Maloney, New York consultant to human resources executives, said that her clients have been increasingly telling her that employees are jumping to conclusions when they get constructive criticism.

Interestingly, the article explored taking things too personally at work only if you are a woman. But, as we’re talking about this in the context of The Godfather, where there were no women in power, you have to consider this personal versus business debate from both sex’s point of view.

As a Huffington Post article puts it, we have as much control over the actions of others as we do over a rainstorm or getting hit by a bumper car. Therefore, you need to protect yourself.

“If you take things personally, you make yourself a victim of anything that others say or do. This is like riding bumper cars and feeling outraged that others are colliding into you! Some may hit you because they are being careless or they have no control over their car. Others may crash into you deliberately. It would be quite silly to feel upset about this because we know that when we ride bumper cars, we are going to get hit,” reads the article.

Taking things personally is not gender-specific. One’s susceptibility to others knows no sex. It’s as random as a rainstorm. My conclusion: not all women are emotional basket cases and not all men are strong and unimpressionable.

To summarize:

E. Roosevelt quote


Pick your battles
So how do you draw the line and recognize when you’re being overly sensitive? It’s not easy, but the outcome will leave you feeling less vulnerable and more empowered.

  • You can stand under my umbrella. (Ella, ella, eh eh eh – sorry, I had to. Besides, Rihanna’s hit ties in nicely to our earlier rainstorm metaphor.) When you find yourself taking things personally, remember, you hold your own umbrella. Shield your reactions to the actions of others.
  • Don’t be a conspiracist. Give people the benefit of the doubt. They’re not out to get you. Unless of course you’re running a huge Italian mafia, then, well you might want to reconsider this.
  • Good work doesn’t mean I think you’re pretty. In the spirit of not taking things too personally at work, it’s important not to take compliments too seriously either. Let your work speak for itself and leave your personal self out of it. Be self-righteous in this regard and leave the opinion of you up to you and only you.


In conclusion
This all goes back to being powerful in your own right – because when you are, there’s no one who can stop you.

The Godfather was the Godfather because he was regarded as such. He didn’t require authentication from anybody before he did anything. The most powerful and influential are those who aren’t waiting for approval somewhere. They find it within themselves and build a world around them that’s exactly what they wanted.

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