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7 Tips to Overcome First-day Jitters

First day on the job? Overcome your nerves and start your travel nursing job on the right foot.

Whether you are a brand new travel nurse or you have several assignments under your belt, it is normal to feel nervous about your first day on the job at a new facility. There will be new co-workers, new routines and so much to learn. Just remember, you were hired for this travel nursing job because you are a qualified and skilled nurse. 

Follow these tips to help you overcome first-day jitters and have the best possible start to each travel nursing job:

1.  Know where you are going

On every new assignment, your recruiter should supply you with first-day instructions. These will tell you what time to arrive, where to park, where to sign in, who you will report to and include a basic overview of the first day.

What you can do: take the time to drive the route to the facility ahead of time; map apps can’t always be trusted and there might be unexpected road construction. Ideally, it is best to do a trial run during your normal commute time so you can have a sense of the traffic and the amount of time it will take you to get to work. If possible, take the time to find the location within the hospital where you will sign in. And save the number of the hospital in your phone, just in case.

2.  Be prepared

Be sure that you know about the job’s uniform requirements--it is best to ask when you accept the assignment so you have time to purchase new scrubs. if necessary. Pack your lunch and lay out your clothing and first-day paperwork the night before. You won’t want to be rushed or pull your scrubs out of your suitcase only to find they are a wrinkled mess, or that they may need laundering.

3.  Care for yourself

Take some time to name your fears. Knowing what is actually making you nervous will empower you to deal with those first-day jitters and move forward.

Do what you can to get adequate sleep before your first day on the job. Wake in time to eat a healthy meal and have time for meditation, yoga or another practice that will help you get centered before you start the day. And make the effort to look your best. When you feel good about how you look, it is easier to enter a new environment with confidence.

4.  Initiate

As you begin your new travel nursing job, offer a smile, a firm handshake and your full name--this communicates that you are both confident and professional. As you interact with new co-workers, take the time to introduce yourself and make an effort to remember their names.

If there is a task that needs to be done and you know how to do it, jump in and offer--they hired you because they need someone with your skills and expertise.

5.  Be a learner

“The first week on a new assignment is typically new hire orientation. A traveler will complete paperwork, get a badge and spend time on the floor getting familiar with the unit,” explained Jenna Scaduto, senior recruitment manager at AMN Healthcare. “The second week is often spent shadowing a charge nurse and getting hands-on experience. By the third week, travelers are usually expected to be able to work independently.”

During orientation, pay attention and take notes. While it is likely that you have experienced different ways of doing things, your first day on the job is not the time to critique this hospital’s systems. After a few weeks of earning the trust of your co-workers, you may offer ideas about systems or approaches you have seen work well at other facilities.

However, if you ever feel like you are witnessing or being asked to participate in unsafe practices, Scaduto recommends calling your clinical liaison. At AMN Healthcare an RN clinical liaison is available 24/7 to help you solve any clinical difficulties you encounter, and all conversations are confidential.

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6.  Ask questions

“I would say one of the common mistakes travelers make on their first day is feeling like they can’t ask for help from their recruiter or the clinical liaison or even the orienting nurse. They tend to think that because they are an experienced nurse, they can’t say, ‘I didn’t get enough time with this, can you go over it again?’ Many hospitals are very traveler-friendly and want to help and support the travelers they bring in as best they can,” remarked Scaduto.

7.  Maintain confidence

No matter what your nerves are telling you, remember that you know how to be a nurse. Take the time to think about something you are confident in and find a way to use that skill or know-how. And most of all, come back to work the second day with a smile on your face. As the travel nurses who have gone before you would say, “The best is yet to be.”

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