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Everything You Need to Know About Skyping

January 28, 2016

Think the downside of travel nursing is isolation from family and friends? In today’s digital world, that’s not really a problem. At the top of your toolbox list should be the video chat and online phone system Skype. First released in 2003, Skype has become the go-to program for people who work on the road like travel nurses – once you learn how to use it, of course.

Some Skype Basics

Technically, Skype is an online phone and chat system. You can use it to call landlines and cellphones, as well as other people using the Skype application. The charges vary based on how you use the program, for example, there is an additional charge to call a phone. You can pay per call or buy a monthly subscription that gives you unlimited access. You can even purchase a private phone number and take calls via the Skype system. The one limitation is texting. While it is possible to send texts from Skype, the program cannot receive them.

Skype works using VoIP technology, in other words, it transmits the human voice using Internet protocols. There are two things to keep in mind when using Skype:

  1. You should never consider this a private, completely secure line. Microsoft, the company that owns the network, admits they allow government surveillance of the system. It may also be prone to hacking, so use Skype with the understanding that it is a public network.

  2. Skype does not replace a phone for 911. If you use it instead of a phone, then have a backup plan for emergencies. Most cellphones, whether active or not, will work for 911 calls.

What You Need to Skype

The equipment necessary to use Skype is pretty straightforward. Skyping for travel nurses requires:

  • A high-speed Internet connection via a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone

  • Speakers and a microphone – if you are going to use Skype regularly, consider investing in a headphone or Bluetooth to make life easier and your voice clearer.

  • Webcam

A Skype account – calls to other Skype members are free, but you will need a financial source to make some calls. You can load money into your account to use as you go or buy a subscription. As part of the setup, you create a Skype name. This is a permanent identity others use to find you on the network, so make it count.

Once you are all set up, just download the right app for your device and open the program.

Getting Started with Skype

The Skype dashboard is fairly intuitive, so follow the instructions to get set up. This will include testing your microphone, speakers and webcam to make sure they are up to spec. You can create a contacts list or use the one you already have on your computer or phone.

To make a call, press one of the green buttons. You have the option to make a voice only call or use the video system. With Skype, you can:

  • Send files

  • Send contacts

  • Share screens

  • Create groups

It’s important to note that Skype is not the only game in town when it comes to staying in touch. Google Hangouts is a communication platform that allows you to do much of the same thing. You can access this program via your gmail or Google+ accounts. Communication between other Hangout users is free.  

Travel nurses are really the opposite of lonely. You meet new people regularly, create networking contacts to further your career, and still stay in touch with everyone at home via an online service. Hopefully you can use Skype to keep connected with your loved ones back home until you see them again.

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