By Donna Cardillo, RN, MA
Moving and changing jobs have been documented as two of life’s most stressful events. So it’s not surprising that seeking employment in a new location can get you frazzled and on edge. The good news is that it’s possible to minimize that stress, ease the transition, and actually feel somewhat in control of the process, not to mention excited about the move. Here are some proven strategies to help you relocate with relative ease.
Before the Move
Activate your network. Tell everyone you know, both near and far, that you’re relocating and will be looking for a new job. Ask if they know anyone in your new location; if they do, ask for contact information. It’s great to call ahead and make some new friends before you even get there. And you’ll get the inside scoop about a new location from people who currently live there or have lived there in the recent past.
If you belong to any nursing associations, contact a local chapter president or other officer in your new location. You should be able to find that information on the association website or by consulting a membership directory. Other nurses can be a great resource about employers, job prospects, regional salaries and other area-specific issues.
Research your new area. Fortunately, the Internet makes it possible to find a wealth of information about your new location, such as area crime rates, school reports, cost of living, etc. You can even compare characteristics of your current community to one you’re considering moving to by using the “Community Match” feature on Nursing Spectrum’s Moving Network (http://www.movingnetwork.com). It’s free and easy. Most realtors can help you locate some of this information, too. Just ask.
Check out the job market. Use the Internet to explore job prospects in your new area. Check out the Nursing Spectrum Job Search feature at http://www.nurse.com/jobs to locate prospective employers in your new area. Make contact with a few of them beforehand to get a feel for job opportunities, pay scales, and benefits.
If you have the opportunity to visit your new area beforehand, try to set up some preliminary interviews with prospective employers. Even if you’re move is a few months off, it’s a good first step.
Get your nursing license validated. Once you have an address in your new location, and presuming you have a valid active license in your current state of residence, you will need to apply for a license in your destination state. To find a listing of all state boards, go to https://www.ncsbn.org/515.htm or call the National Council of State Boards of Nursing at (312) 525-3600 (Illinois). Contact the board or licensing body in your new state to find out what’s required to obtain a license by endorsement there. Licensure by endorsement is the process of issuing a nursing license in one state based on the existence of a valid license in another state. The application approval process can take anywhere from four to eight weeks to process, so don’t wait until you’ve actually moved. Be sure to notify any states where you currently hold a nursing license of your upcoming change of address.
During the Move
Keep all of your important papers in one place, such as in a portable file box. Keep that box with you at all times. Don’t ship it, don’t let the movers take it, and don’t pack it in amongst other boxes. Use the box to store your nursing license and related documentation, pending and recently paid bills, documents related to insurance and moving, as well as banking and credit card information.
Keep in mind that many of your moving expenses may be tax deductible, so keep all of your receipts together. Contact the IRS and request document 521 to see what’s deductible ( http://www.irs.gov/publications/p521/index.html) or check with your accountant.
Ask your realtor or moving company for a checklist of other helpful tips for before and during the move. After all, they’re relocation experts. Tap into their experience and resources.
After the Move
Connect with the local nursing community immediately. Join your state nurses association or, if you already belong, switch your state affiliation. If you don’t belong, this might be a good time to join. Professional associations offer support and camaraderie and are an excellent resource for state specific information about licensing, practice, employers, and more. If you aren’t ready to join right away, at least get out to some local meetings as a guest. Find your state nurses association at www.nursingworld.org and click on Constituent Member Association or call the American Nurses Association at (800) 274-4262.
Take steps to assimilate. Volunteering is a great way to get acclimated to your new neighborhood, make some local contacts, and feel part of your new community. Consider volunteering for a community group, PTA, or rescue squad. If you have a particular religious affiliation, seek out a local house of worship and get registered. Most religious groups are welcoming and friendly and can help you develop a sense of community.
Initiate introductions. Go out of your way to introduce yourself to your new neighbors. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Whenever you’re the new kid on the block, whether on a new job, a member of a new association or group, or in a new community, you should take the initiative to meet and greet people. I once had a neighbor who was from Japan. She told me that in her country, when someone moves into a new neighborhood, that person goes around to the neighbor’s houses offering small gifts, rather than the other way around. Although you don’t have to offer gifts to your new neighbors or coworkers, making an effort to introduce yourself and getting to know the people in your new environment goes a long way to making you feel more accepted and less like a stranger.
Take some time for yourself. There’s lots to do when you make a move, but be sure to schedule time to relax and explore your new surroundings. Consider joining a local fitness club or treating yourself to a massage. Be sure to check out the local parks and recreation areas, the public libraries, and any sites of interest. Take time to enjoy the new sights, sounds, and tastes in your new location. Develop a new sense of “home.” If possible, take a little time off before starting your new job. This is a legitimate temporary lapse in employment and doesn’t happen often so take advantage of it. Use the time to de-stress after the move and clear you head.
Changing jobs and addresses at the same time can administer a double dose of stress. But with planning, networking, and assimilation strategies in place, you can survive and maybe even enjoy the transition.