Advice For First Time Travel Nurses
Whether you’re a seasoned nurse looking to branch out or a new nurse looking to take your career to the next level, read on for valuable advice on succeeding as a first-time travel nurse. Travel nursing can feel both exciting and intimidating. Keep in mind that becoming a seasoned traveler takes time and experience. Don’t be hard on yourself if things don’t go as planned during your first contract. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn and improve for the next one. I made my fair share of mistakes when I started, so read on, and hopefully, my advice can help you avoid them!
Choose Your Assignment Wisely
Securing the ideal travel assignment requires a significant amount of effort and consideration. The process can be overwhelming, with many factors to consider, such as location, pay, hospital size, charting systems, and nurse-to-patient ratios. Have no worries, though; this is where your recruiter comes in! They will help to provide options and assist with the search, but remember, it is ultimately up to you to determine which factors are most important and prioritize accordingly. I advise picking a location you’re excited about moving to and exploring!
Know Your Way Around/Do Your Research
When you arrive at your new location, try to get there a few days early to explore the area and find your hospital. This seems like a no-brainer, but it has helped me tremendously. You never know if there will be roadwork, if parking will be challenging to locate, or what to expect. It’s also so much fun to explore a new town/city! Drive around or research to find the best coffee shops, gas stations, and grocery stores nearest your hospital.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask QuestionsAs a travel nurse, it's important to always be open to learning and asking questions. Even if you have been a nurse for a while, you are still new to the hospital and its policies, equipment, and procedures. Don't be afraid to ask questions if you don't know something or are unsure about something. This can be daunting at first, but it is a great way to get to know your colleagues!
When I first started, I was worried that people would think I was incompetent for asking questions, but I soon realized that it was more important to make sure I was aware of everything and doing it correctly. Medicine is constantly evolving, and as nurses, we are responsible for staying informed. If you are nervous, you can also look up your hospital's policies and procedures.
Get Connected In and Out of The Hospital
One big piece of advice I would give to first-time travelers is to get connected. Introduce yourself to your coworkers and make a point to remember their names. Remembering people’s names can be challenging for many people, including myself. To help with this, I started recording names by writing them down. I carry a small note with me at work and jot down the names of the people I work with. Remembering the names of your coworkers shows that you respect them and helps to develop positive working relationships and sometimes even friendships! Social support goes a long way when you are traveling.
Another component of getting connected is trying to tap into the local community. Let’s say you love volleyball, join an adult league! If you love books, go to a book club! I love yoga and rock climbing, so I always try to join a yoga studio and a rock-climbing gym! You may be moving to a new place and may not have your usual community to support you, so do your best to branch out and get involved in the community around you.
Being a travel nurse means operating effectively and efficiently in a fast-paced environment. You need to be 100% present and focused during your orientation, as this is the best time to ask any questions and absorb as much information as possible before you’re on your own. My mind tends to operate at a million miles per hour, so I start my day with a morning meditation or a yoga or journaling session to ensure my mind is as calm and primed for the day as possible.
Be present during your time at work, take time to breathe, and slow down. These assignments go by quickly, and as a traveler, your time with your coworkers will likely be somewhat limited, even if you re-sign your contract, so soak it in while you can.
Pack a SnackThis one is a bit silly, but it makes everyone's day a little brighter. Bring snacks, not just for yourself but for your unit. While winning over your colleagues with food is not essential, it is a great way to show them that you care. Remember, as nurses, we are often busy and may not have time to pack a snack for work. Bringing something for them to enjoy can be an excellent way to boost morale!
Lastly, (and Most Importantly) Have Fun!
Travel nursing is such a rewarding profession. It combines the purpose and meaning of nursing with the excitement and novelty of travel. You will be challenged, and you will grow, both professionally and personally. I am so grateful to be a part of this amazing community and excited for you to join us!