Tips to Help Travel Nurses Adjust to a New Hospital

Adapting to new situations goes with the territory for AMN Healthcare’s travel nurses: moving to a new state, preparing for new assignments, and getting acclimated to new hospitals, staff and protocols. All these new scenarios can be overwhelming at times, even stressful, but we can help. AMN Healthcare has the resources and support staff to make it easy for travelers to hit the ground running while having a rewarding experience and exciting adventure with their new travel nursing job.

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Being Prepared Makes All the Difference

There are so many incredible and fantastic new experiences awaiting travel nurses--new cities to explore, friends to make, patients to help. Travel nurses are used to always being on the go; however, at times, it can be an adjustment to face so many unfamiliar situations. Does practice really make perfect? It sure does, and it’s important for travel nurses to be prepared and informed. Let’s take a look at what helps travel nurses have a smooth transition to a new hospital while gaining new skills and advancing their careers.

Know before you go

Before starting a new assignment, travel nurses should always learn the layout of the new hospital or facility. This may include taking a tour of the hospital to learn how to find your unit and where everything is located, including supply rooms and crash carts. The Gypsy Nurse, R.N., stresses the importance of not only taking a tour but also doing a ‘test run’ of the commute, determining how long to allot to get from your front door to your unit, on time, even accounting for traffic. You may even feel inspired to drop in for a few minutes to introduce yourself to your new co-workers.

Be optimistic

When travelers start a new assignment, being optimistic is essential. In any new situation, people may feel stressed or anxious. When travelers look forward to a new assignment with a great attitude, they feel more at ease, calm, and stress-free. Yes, there is a lot to learn, but it’s helpful to remember that other travelers have been in the same shoes and succeeded beautifully. Maintaining an optimistic outlook helps travelers get through any bumps in the road.

Ask a lot of questions

Instead of trying to figure everything out on the first day, travel nurses should rely on their supervisor or mentor to help. Coworkers and staff realize that things are new and different. Each hospital is run differently and can have different procedures for charting and scheduling. Travelers should ask a lot of questions and write down important information.

Travel nurse Margy Kerby, R.N., finds ways to help her acclimate to new assignments: “From the moment I arrive at a new assignment, I’m all ears. I keep a little spiral notebook with me at all times and use it to keep a record of the physicians’ names and phone numbers, unit details, copies of the facility’s standards and any other information that will help me in my work. Often times, when I leave a facility, my coworkers want to auction off my notebook!”

Find a mentor

Nurses offer each other a fantastic support system. When on a new assignment, find another nurse that is willing to be a mentor. Having someone help you learn the ropes, locate supplies, and become familiar with the new protocol makes work easier, less overwhelming, and more enjoyable.

Be flexible

Communication is key, and everyone prefers a different method of communication. Some travel nurses enjoy speaking on the phone or getting a text. Others prefer meeting face-to-face. Determine the preferred method of communication for supervisors and coworkers to establish clear communication from the start. Being flexible, communicating clearly, and having a positive attitude makes a great impression with coworkers!

Understand the new hospital’s procedures and processes

Travel nurses must be able to think quickly, be flexible, and adapt to new environments quickly and easily. Since each facility and hospital has its own policies and procedures, it’s helpful for travel nurses to be informed and knowledgeable with all the details of their new assignment.

Are there new policies and procedures? If so, become familiar with them immediately and ask if there are any ‘quick reference’ cards to help along the way.

  • Is there a different or new charting system? If so, make sure to learn these as quickly as possible. Ask coworkers, mentors, or other staff members for tips and tricks. If needed, call the IT department for help with charting on a new computerized system.
  • Who handles scheduling? Does the nurse manager or hospitalist handle it? Travel nurses should know the facility’s policies on scheduling, including call-ins and emergencies.
  • Where are the crash carts, and what are the codes? Make sure to locate the crash carts immediately, and become familiar with the facility’s codes and policies.
  • What are the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores for the facility? When on assignment and on a new unit, travelers must know the unit’s HCAHPS scores. Travel nurses play an important role in maintaining and improving HCAHPS scores.

Be a patient advocate

This is a priority for all travel nurses, as they are the voice of their patients. Being the best patient advocate possible ensures the best patient care and outcome.

Wear a smile, organize a nursing bag, and get informed before starting a new assignment--it’s a recipe for success! With these tips, you’re ready to embark on a new adventure in travel nursing.

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