One of the most important aspects of being a traveling nurse practitioner is decent lodging. Occasionally it can be tougher than you think to find the right housing. Sometimes the ideal lodging does not fit in the budget. Other times the community is so rural that you are left without many options. And maybe you have pets that cannot be accommodated so easily.
I have stayed at hotels without a stove or oven which made it difficult to plan meals. This is common in rural areas where hotels with kitchenettes are at least 1 hour away. Unfortunately, I have stayed in extended stay hotels that smell like smoke and the lock on the door did not appear to be secure. This was due to the budget but I requested an alternative, and was accommodated within a few days.
I have traveled to an assignment and to the hotel I was provided with for lodging, just to learn that there was no reservation made. I called the emergency number I was provided with to get in contact with someone from the agency. When I placed my call that night at 11:00pm, I was told that no one could help me until normal business hours. I ended up booking that night at the hotel with my credit card. The following day I contacted my recruiter and they had someone call the hotel and change the booking information. My reservation was officially made and the first night I stayed there was charged to the company’s credit card instead of my own.
I know of others with housing disasters worse than mine. One locum tenens provider had his lodging switched 4 times over a course of 1 week. The first inn he was staying at apparently had meth dealers as the owners. The next hotel he stayed at was an hour drive to the site which the provider did not like. The third extended stay hotel was closer to the site, but also had several patients he recognized staying there too. The final fourth place was a cottage that the site he was working for found for him.
I know a locum tenens nurse practitioner that was provided with a private room in a family household. She was living with a random family during an assignment due to high costs of living in that area. I know of another nurse practitioner that was given a hotel for her and her dogs. However, the hotel called her when she was at work, telling her she could not leave the dogs alone in her room. Her agency did not help with the situation, but her site and coworkers found her a nice short-term lease apartment. I know another nurse practitioner that was provided a nice bungalow by her site in California. However, due to a fierce forest fire, the house was destroyed and she was temporarily placed in a trailer.
Locum tenens agencies sometimes allow nurse practitioners to search for their own housing, as long as it meets the budget. After providing your recommendations, they will book the lodging and provide a credit card for payment. Locum tenens agencies are also increasingly providing monthly housing stipends (similar to travel RNs), to give nurse practitioners more autonomy in selecting their lodging. Some agencies will house you in a hotel for the first few weeks, while they search for short-term apartments. They will allow you to check out the apartment options for you to make a final selection.
Lodging is such a significant part of being a traveling nurse practitioner. I think a lot of times we are confident that our agency will provide us with the ideal place to live. Yet, it is obvious that there are several barriers to great housing including: budget, location, family/pets, and natural/external factors. Before I accept an assignment and sign the contract, I always request some housing options to be sent to me. I would like to know before I accept an assignment if I will be commuting 1 hour for work every day or if my only other option is to live in a sketchy motel.