Thursday, November 13, 2008

Great Housing For Our Nurses: A Top Priority

Continental TravelNurse is the only UK travel nurse agency to offer comprehensive housing to its clients – a fact that both the nurses and the clients who hire them absolutely love. For Housing Coordinator Jane Richter, her job only gets easier once the nurses have moved in.

“Two people just moved into a flat and said it’s better than their own home,” laughs Richter, who has been the Housing Coordinator at Continental TravelNurse for two years.

“People are always concerned about housing and expect the worse. Then, when they’ve been in the location for an assignment and are about to head off on a personal trip, they try to bargain with us to make sure they get the same exact location.”

In other words, nurses are skeptical that the housing provided will meet the high standards the expect and we guarantee. And then once they’re in it, they often convince themselves it’s a fluke. “They really believe none of the other flats will be as good as what they get,” she said.

But of course they are because Continental TravelNurse knows the importance of good housing for both the nurses and the clients who use them. “The feedback from the nurses to the hospitals about how good their housing is is always good and that makes the hospitals even more confident about working with us,” says Richter.

Continental TravelNurse achieves this high standard by checking out locations personally whenever possible and by building long-term relationships with housing agents, grading each apartment continually and always keeping in mind convenient transport to work. One future innovation Richter has been building on is to create a sort of travel nurse cul de sac when she’s found a prime location, such as a site in Edinburgh. It has excellent transportation to two different clients and the flats are very nice. “We’ve got three or four flats there,” says Richter. “It’s a lot of fun for the nurses to have a bit of a community there and it just makes sense. We’ll be doing more of that down the road.”

Indeed, that communal social network is a big draw for travel nurses and Richter loves to pair off people into the same flats that she knows will get along. “Two nurses, Amy and Bianca, have become best friends and they’re on their third or fourth assignment and they always insist on rooming together.

One key to Richter’s job as Housing Coordinator is managing expectations. Ironically, nurses before their first assignment tend to have really low expectations (they can’t imagine housing chosen by someone else will be acceptable to them) and really high. “Americans are used to really big houses and Australians are used to having a lot of land around their homes,” explains Richter. “So sometimes they find housing that –in the UK – may be really high standard but doesn’t match what they’re used to. But when it’s clean and nice and in a great location for both work and fun, they soon realize what a good job we’ve done.”

And that job never ends. Richter describes a typical day where she might juggle three different issues and keep three different nurses happy as a good one. And the scope of her job is challenging and fun.

“It goes from the biggest issue to the smallest detail,” says Richter. “From negotiating a lease agreement to getting a washing machine that’s gone on the fritz replaced the very same day. It’s never, ever boring.”

Go to our main Continental Travelnurse website to learn more and get contact information.