Travel Nursing May 18, 2023

Essential Tips for Your First Travel Nurse Assignment

So, you’ve done it! You’ve signed on for the adventure of a lifetime, and are about to take your first foray into travel nursing. As your start date approaches, you may be starting to feel a bit apprehensive. These feelings are completely natural—especially for a new travel nurse.

Fortunately, the experts at AMN Healthcare have loads of tips and resources to help make your first travel nurse assignment a breeze.

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Expand Your Horizons: Discover The World of Travel Nursing!

Travel nursing is a popular career option for nurses that involves working temporary contracts at healthcare facilities across the United States. Facilities need travel nurses to help cover staff vacations and leaves of absence; maintain quality of care during a crisis or fluctuations in patient census; and to assist with special projects like an upgrade of the electronic medical record system.

While providing invaluable help to healthcare facilities and their patients, travel nurses are able to enjoy many personal and professional perks. For starters, they have the flexibility to choose when and where they work. Travel nurses also enjoy excellent compensation and benefits, free housing, clinical experience, and the opportunity to spend their time off exploring a different part of the country.

Unlock the excitement of planning your First Travel Nurse Assignment

Before you arrive at your new facility, there are a number of steps you can take to get prepared and lay the groundwork for a fun and successful assignment.

Start with your travel nurse recruiter

Your nursing recruiter is the best source of information to help you prepare for a new assignment. Recruiters can tell you about your assignment facility, and may have experience to share from other travelers who have lived and worked there. They will also connect you with their team members who can set up your housing, take care of your licensing and credentialing, and more.

Your recruiter should also provide first-day instructions that cover all of the essentials you’ll need to know—like what scrubs to wear, where you should park, who you should report to upon arrival, and what type of orientation you can expect.

Do your part as a travel nurse

As your travel nurse agency is preparing you for your first assignment, be sure to respond with what is needed in a timely matter. That goes for everything from your initial documentation to completing any online systems training that may be required. Any delays on your part could affect your start date.

Research the travel assignment location

It’s easy to search online to find out as much as you can about the city and location of your upcoming assignment. Then, dive into the website and other information provided about your facility. Check out sites like Tripadvisor or AMN Healthcare’s Location Page that includes city guides for travel nurses.

Schedule the details of your trip

If you’ll be driving to your new assignment, map out a road trip with time for some fun stops along the way. Plan to arrive in town a few days early if possible, so you can set up your apartment and start to feel settled. You may even want to do a trial run of commuting to your new workplace. This can help you get familiar with your route and ensure you arrive early on the first day.

Pack like a pro

Experienced nurse travelers will tell you that the biggest challenge in packing for your first travel nursing assignment is being sure you have everything you need—without overdoing it. Most new travel nurses bring too much with them. To avoid that problem, check out AMN Healthcare’s Definitive Packing Guide for Travel Nurses for expert guidance, including a packing checklist.

Learn from other travel nurses

Remember that every travel nurse has gone through those first-assignment jitters. If you know any travelers, ask for their insights and advice. Learn from other travelers on the AMN Passport app where nurses share tips and tricks, including their favorite locations. You can also discover the answers to nurses’ frequently asked questions (FAQs) or read their travel nurse stories.

Tips as you start your first travel nurse assignment

In addition to planning ahead and following the first-day instructions provided by your recruiter, the following tips can help your first travel assignment go as smoothly as possible.

Make the most of orientation

The travel nurse orientation at your facility that will typically last for a few days, though some programs geared for recent graduate nurses may offer an extended orientation. Take this opportunity to learn as much as you can about the facility, including important policies and procedures, and ask questions if something isn’t clear.

You will likely be assigned a staff mentor at the beginning of your assignment, giving you an ongoing point of contact for questions and advice. AMN Healthcare also has clinical professionals on call 24/7 to assist with any issues you may encounter on the job.

Be helpful and flexible

Starting on the first day of your new travel nursing job, remember to offer a smile, a firm handshake and your full name as you get to know your new colleagues. If there is a task that needs to be done and you know how to do it, go ahead and offer. After all, you were hired because they need your skills and expertise, and your co-workers will appreciate you being a team player.

And because healthcare is unpredictable, new travel nurses should be prepared to adapt to changes during their assignment—all while maintaining that “I’m here to help” attitude.

Keep learning new things

Travel nursing provides some incredible opportunities to work in different clinical settings and learn from other talented clinicians. You might have the chance to work with a different patient population, master the latest equipment or discover new best practices. Although you may be used to doing things a particular way, keep an open mind and use every opportunity to expand your skills.

Steer clear of the drama

As you’re getting to know your new team, steer clear of unit politics and other people’s drama. The same goes for gossip and complaining behind someone’s back. Not only can such behavior be detrimental to the unit, but it could affect your reputation as a travel nurse.

Keep the first things first

Like all nurses, providing quality patient care is your main objective as a travel nurse. Don’t let a new environment distract you. Your compassion and skill set haven’t changed, so trust yourself and remain dedicated to providing the best nursing care at all times.

At the same time, don’t neglect your own physical and mental health. Prioritize self-care in order to ensure that you will be your best on every shift and can enjoy your assignment to the fullest.

Are you ready to travel?

Travel nursing is going to be the experience of a lifetime. Wherever you go, you’ll make friends, touch lives and experience new adventures. With these tips in mind and your AMN Healthcare team standing by to help, this will be the first of many exciting assignments as a travel nurse.

To learn more about travel nursing, browse jobs in your specialty, or connect with one of our friendly recruiters.

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