When you think about taking travel nursing assignments across the U.S., what is considered the ultimate destination for you? Is it Hawaii? Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to spend their days off soaking up the sun on black sand beaches, exploring the Hawaiian rainforest, or splashing around in waterfalls! After spending about 4 years on the island myself, I can assure you that this would be a trip of a lifetime.
Believe it or not, landing an assignment in Hawaii doesn’t have to be as unrealistic and difficult as you think! Check out these 10 tips that will be sure to help you obtain and enjoy a travel assignment on one of Hawaii’s beautiful islands.
PLAN AHEAD & SAVE THAT $$$: Hawaii is known to pay with its sunshine and tropical landscape. It doesn’t take much to entice a nurse into packing his or her bags and jumping on a flight out to paradise. Hospitals know this too, which is why you may not feel the “wow factor” when you see what they pay. Why not set yourself up for success and take one or two higher paying contracts before you travel across the Pacific? When you get to the island you will most definitely want to take advantage in some touristy activities (which we know won’t be cheap). So, pull some 48-hour work weeks and save that change!!
Getting there and back: This is one assignment that you certainly can’t drive to, which means you will need to purchase plane tickets. Now the question is, do you buy roundtrip or one way? Let’s think about this for a second. You will spend 13-16 weeks in one of the most beautiful locations our country has to offer. Do you know for certain that you will be ready to leave when your contract is over? Who knows? You may love it so much that you want to stay become a local. It has happened before–more than you would think. Buying a one-way ticket is usually the way to go. No set return date and it’s often cheaper than a round trip!
Island Transportation: To ship my car or to not ship my car? That is the question. This is one of the big decisions nurses have to make when taking a contract in Hawaii. Is it worth your spending over $1500 to ship your car there and back? Of course, this is a personal decision. However, you do have other options! Think about buying an island car! There are little car dealerships all around the islands that you can purchase a used car or truck without spending over $1,000. Now, this won’t be a Ferrari or Maserati type car, but it will get you from A to Z! When you’re ready to head back to the mainland, you can turn around and sell it which allows you to get some of your hard earned money back!
Public transportation is another way to get around. Hawaii has a very practical bus system (especially Honolulu) and cabs are never hard to find.
Get some exercise each day and bike to and from work. Check out local shops and Craigslist for some cheap, used bikes to cruise around on. A little fresh air never hurt anybody!
If you want to rent a car, be prepared to spend something like $600/month or more. It may be a good idea to save the rental cars for days you plan on doing some exploring of the island. This way you are only spending your money on a car when you need it. If you do decide to rent a car for your entire visit, be sure to ask for monthly rates and discounts. A lot of the major car rental companies have deals you may not know about.
Ultimately, when it comes down to getting around on the island, it would be best if you first found out where you are staying in order to determine which transportation method would be the best for you.
Being Flexible: Not the yoga, twisty type flexible. Be flexible with your shift preferences. When it comes down to using travelers, hospitals love seeing nurses who are able to accommodate any scheduling needs they may have. It’s best if you travel to Hawaii with the mindset that you may be rotating shifts and working every other weekend. You want to be the candidate to stand out to them amongst the 25+ other profiles they are reviewing because of your flexibility and willingness to help when needed. Need time off? Be flexible with this request too. Requesting some weekends here and there so you have some blocked time to do fun things shouldn’t be an issue, but asking for too much time may cause the hospital to move on to the next candidate. We certainly don’t want that to happen!!
HI Licensure: Good news! There is an option to get a quick temporary license in Hawaii! Bad news. You have to have a job lined up already. In order to get a temporary Hawaii license you will need to:
Complete the Endorsement Application – you can obtain this from the Hawaii Board of Nursing website: http://cca.hawaii.gov/pvl/boards/nursing/
Send in a photo copy of current U.S. nursing license indicating the expiration date of license
Submit Verification of Employment Form – this is also found on the Hawaii BON website. This is a form that basically states you NEED a license ASAP because you have a position lined up. This form is first filled out by your agency, then is sent to the hospital you will be contracted at in Hawaii, and from there the hospital will send it in directly to the Hawaii Board of Nursing.
Submit Verification of Original License – you will need to verify your first state license you ever received as an RN. Depending on what state this is, you can either do this via https://www.nursys.com or you may have to visit your state’s board of nursing website directly for verification if they are not a Nursys participant.
Remit Fee $$ – this should be anywhere around $180-$210, but times are always a changing with licensure fees so its highly suggested you double check the exact amount you need to send in before you cut that check or money order.
Now about that perm license. Let me start off by saying that if you know 100% Hawaii will be a travel destination for you in the future, go ahead and GET THAT LICENSE! This is a sure way to make your profile stand out when it comes time to pursuing jobs out there. It’s not too tedious of a process and won’t hurt your wallet. Follow all of the steps above except for step 3, there is no need for this if you are just planning ahead. Again, as a reminder it is always good to DOUBLE CHECK this application process with the BON since we all know requirements can change from sunup to sundown.
Pet Policy: We all have our furry loved ones that love to come on assignment with us. But, if you are going to Hawaii you may want to rethink that or at least do some serious planning in advance. Did you know that Hawaii is a rabies-free state? If you didn’t you do now! Hawaii actually requires that upon arriving to the island(s) your pet must be quarantined for up to 120 days!! That’s some serious separation time! There is something you can do about this though–just as long as you plan way in advance to bring your animal with you. Hawaii has what is called a “5-Day-Or-Less” program. This includes of list of strict requirements that all animals must meet prior to arriving on the island. In addition to meeting this list of requirements your pet must qualify for “airport release”. That way you don’t have to spend more than 5 days apart from each other. You can find all the info you need on the Hawaii Rabies Quarantine Info Brochure.
Expectations on Pay: This was touched on in Tip #1. However, it is something worth bringing back to the surface. Hawaii is a beautiful travel destination and they know that RN’s are willing to come there solely for the island-life experience. They aren’t going to be offering you extravagant amounts of money to entice you to come their way. Now, my goal here isn’t to deter you from traveling to Hawaii because there really are good amount of affordable places to live, but more to set your expectations. Think of it almost as a paid vacation. You may not be able to add tons of money to your savings, but the experience itself is paid for. Always be sure to speak with your recruiter about the pay rates in Hawaii BEFORE your decision to interview for positions. You want to make sure it is feasible for you to accept a contract out there.
Hawaii? What’s the difference: “Hawaii” double times as a name for the 6 major islands that make up the 50th state, but is also the sole name of the Big Island. It’s important to know the difference between all of the islands so that you can be sure to choose an assignment on the best one for you. They all have something different to offer, check out some below info on the most commonly traveled too islands.
The Big Island (aka Hawaii) – Except for 2 of its major cities, this island is considered more rural and less developed than the other islands. There are two sides of the island that are very different from each other so make sure to do some research before settling down out there. Being one of the newer islands, it has less beaches than the others do. The weather here is never dull as it is the only island that you can sunbathe at the beach one day and hit the ski slopes the next. Another fun fact, it has the most active volcanoes in the world!
Maui – This is the second largest island and is known as one of the more tropical islands to visit. It is famed to have a little bit of everything. You can start your day having breakfast in one of the bigger urban districts, spend your afternoon hiking through a rainforest and visiting waterfalls, then end your day in one of the more quiet historic areas. Tons to offer!!
Oahu – With having the capital city located here, you can expect this to be the most urban island. Honolulu is a bustling city with large sky scrapers and the state’s densest population. You can expect to spend a little more money here when compared to the other islands, simply because of the city atmosphere. You can always escape the craziness of the city and drive through the island to some world famous spots like the North Shore or Waikiki. If shopping and nightlife is your cup of tea, then this may be the island for you!
Time Change: Be sure to turn those clocks back! Hawaii is approximately 6 hours behind EST! It is one of two states that doesn’t observe daylight savings time (Arizona is the other one in case you were wondering), so depending on what time of year it is, they may only be 5 hours behind EST, but still quite a difference. It’s an important thing to remember when you go to give your family and friends on the mainland a call. As much as they would love hearing from you, a 2am wakeup call is probably not the most ideal. Lastly, remember this for when you are waiting for hiring managers to call you for a phone interview. It’s safe to say your phone probably won’t start ringing until the late afternoon/early evening your time, so be sure to discuss with your recruiter some times that you will available to answer your phone. They can help get you and the nurse manager connected.
Learn the language: Even though Hawaii is considered the 50th state of the United States, they do take pride in speaking their own language. It would be great if you could arrive to the islands knowing some of the basic words and phrases so you can make the most of your experience while enjoying time and taking care of the Hawaiian natives. Break out those flash cards and study some of the words listed below:
Aloha – Love; affection; greeting, salutation; Hello! Good Bye!
‘A‘ole pilikia – You’re welcome/No problem
Hele – Move, go, travel
Hoaloha – Friend
Honu – Green sea turtle (these are endangered and you will see signs on the beach often warning you from touching them)
Haole – Foreigner, person not from Hawaii
Kāne – Men
Keiki – Children
Kōkua – Help or support
Mahalo – Thank you
Maika‘i no au – I am fine
Malasada – Portuguese donut (amazingly delicious)
Mauka – Towards the mountains
Makai – Towards the ocean
Moana – Ocean
‘Ohana – family and/or close friends
Pau – Done or finished
Shaka – hand gesture of extended thumb and pinkie. Symbolizes the Aloha spirit “Shaka Brah”
Wahine – Women
Now that you are an expert on traveling to Hawaii, the next step is to actually GO!! Leave the mainland and embark on the assignment of a lifetime. Keeping in mind all the shared tips and information above will help set you up for success out in the Pacific! Aloha and safe travels!!
PPR Travel Nursing is ready to assist you getting an assignment in Hawaii. You can contact us at www.pprtravelnursing.com. Aloha!