New Travel Nurses have lots of questions about beginning their journeys. This guide will help break down the basics of being an effective travel nurse so that you can maximize your experience. We have tried to explain all the essential elements of being a first-time travel nurse. Read on to learn more.
28 Tips for a First Time Travel Nurse
1. Research the Location
Before accepting a travel nursing position, research the area thoroughly to ensure it is safe and suited for your needs. Find out about public transportation, housing availability, cost of living, and how close essential amenities are like grocery stores, restaurants, parks, hospitals, and more.
2. Do Your Homework
Before committing to a position, learn as much about the facility and area as possible. Research the health care system in that area, read reviews online from other travel nurses, and even reach out to other nurses with experience working there.
3. Secure Housing
One of the most significant expenses for a travel nurse is housing, so make sure you secure housing in advance. Research short-term rental options through websites like Airbnb or VRBO, and consider joining a travel nurse housing network to save money on your stay.
4. Pack Light
Travel nurses often have to move quickly and may be limited in how much they can bring with them. It’s important to pack light so you don’t burden yourself or waste time trying to move too much stuff around.
5. Connect with Coworkers
Before accepting a position, reach out to the staff at the facility and introduce yourself. You can join online groups, such as a Facebook group or travel nurse forum, to connect with other nurses in the area and ask questions about the facility.
6. Prepare for Paperwork
Before your first day, familiarize yourself with any paperwork needed to start the job. This may include applications for licensure, resumes with copies of certifications, background checks, or other documentation.
7. Get Organized
Prepare for your first day by having all your materials organized and ready to go when you arrive. Have copies of licenses, resumes, transcripts, certifications, and other paperwork in an easily accessible place to find them quickly when needed.
8. Know the Rules
Every facility has its own set of rules, so make sure you learn the policies and procedures before starting your assignment. This includes break times, scheduling protocol, dress codes, and more. Read through the employee handbook, talk with other nurses, and ask questions to ensure you understand all relevant policies.
9. Confirm Scheduling
Before showing up to work, make sure that you have confirmed your schedule with the staffing agency or facility. Double-check that they have all your information and that you’re cleared to begin working.
10. Have Necessary Supplies
Make sure you have all the necessary supplies like stethoscopes, medical uniforms, pens, notepads, and other equipment needed for the job before starting your shift.
11. Set Up Benefits
As a travel nurse, you may be qualified for health care coverage, dental insurance, and more. Contact the staffing agency or facility to determine what benefits you qualify for and ensure they are set up before beginning your assignments.
12. Establish Goals
Before starting a new assignment, establish some goals to measure your success and gain satisfaction from your work. This could include learning a new skill, improving efficiency, or meeting a certain number of patients each shift.
13. Join a Union
There are unions specifically for travel nurses that can provide job security and other benefits like discounts on travel expenses, legal representation, insurance options, etc. Look into joining one of these organizations for additional support.
14. Keep a Positive Attitude
At the end of the day, having a positive attitude can make all the difference in your travel nursing experience. Try to stay motivated and focused on why you decided to become a travel nurse in the first place.
Take advantage of your time as a travel nurse to meet and network with other medical professionals in the area. This could include forming patient relationships, expanding contacts with staffing agencies, or joining professional organizations. Networking is quite important when finding future assignments or permanent positions.
16. Track Your Time & Expenses
As a travel nurse, you should track all your work hours and any expenses related to your job. This will help you accurately complete tax forms and ensure you are getting paid correctly for your work.
17. Maintain Professionalism:
Remember to be professional as a travel nurse. This includes being on time for shifts, meeting deadlines, and following instructions from supervisors. By staying professional in all aspects of your job, you’ll demonstrate respect for yourself and the profession – critical ingredients in a successful career as a travel nurse.
18. Keep Learning:
Don’t forget to take advantage of any educational opportunities available as a travel nurse. This could include attending local conferences or taking courses online to learn new skills and stay up-to-date on the latest medical developments. Keeping your knowledge current will help ensure a successful career as a travel nurse.
19. Balance Work & Life:
It can be easy to overlook the importance of work/life balance when you’re constantly on the go. Try to ensure you are taking time for yourself away from work.
Make sure you’re taking time for yourself each day, whether it’s a few minutes of meditation getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, or exercising regularly.
20. Appreciate the Adventure:
Take time to appreciate all the adventures of being a travel nurse. Embrace the unique opportunities to explore new places, meet interesting people, and make a difference in others’ lives. These experiences will always stay with you even after your assignments are done.
21. Have Fun
Don’t forget to have fun while you’re working as a travel nurse. The best way to make the most of any assignment is to enjoy yourself and take advantage of the unique experiences of being a travel nurse. So don’t be afraid to laugh, learn and have a good time!
22. Stay Connected
There are still plenty of options to stay connected with family and friends. Keep up with emails, video chats, or social media to take advantage of important events back home. Distance shouldn’t become your weakness but strength.
23. Utilize Resources
As a travel nurse, you have access to various resources that can help make your job easier and more enjoyable. Take advantage of free online tools such as calendars, time-tracking apps, or medical databases to keep up with your responsibilities.
24. Embrace a New Culture
Working as a travel nurse gives you the perfect chance to explore and learn about different cultures. Before you arrive, you can research the area, visit cultural sites or museums in the city, try new restaurants, or hit up local attractions. There’s no finest way to immerse yourself in a new culture than to embrace it head-on. It will help you stay energized and productive during your assignments.
25. Find Support
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or struggle in your new environment. Reach out to friends and family back home, connect with other travel nurses in the area, or seek professional counseling if needed. Finding support can make a huge impact in making life as a travel nurse successful.
26. Give Back
Finally, don’t forget to give back during your time as a travel nurse. Whether volunteering at local hospitals or donating to causes in need, giving back is a great way to show gratitude for the opportunity you have as a travel nurse and positively impact the world.
27. Have a Backup Plan
It is crucial to have a backup plan in case your assignments aren’t what you expected. This could include researching other job opportunities in the area or having an emergency fund saved up for unexpected expenses. A contingency plan can help ensure you don’t end up in a problematic situation if things don’t go as planned.
28. Document Your Experiences
Last but not least, document your experiences as a travel nurse. This could be a blog, photos, or even a journal – whatever works best for you! By tracking your journey, you’ll be able to reflect on all the fantastic memories and opportunities that come with being a travel nurse.
After completing the first assignment as a travel nurse, you may find that this type of nursing is right for you! You can experience new places, people, and cultures while challenging yourself professionally. You also enjoy a flexible schedule with competitive pay and the chance to develop your skills in various settings. However, travel nursing can also be stressful and lonely due to its transient nature. The travel nursing community is always here for support and advice, and your’re not alone in the journey. With the right mindset and a readiness to take risks, you can have a fantastic experience as a travel nurse.
Mrs. Marie Brown has been a registered nurse for over 25 years. She began her nursing career at a Level I Trauma Center in downtown Chicago, Illinois. There she worked in the Emergency Department and on the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. After several years, she moved to the Midwest and continued her nursing career in a critical care setting. For the last 10 years of her nursing career, Mrs. Brown worked as a flight nurse with an air ambulance service. During this time, she cared for patients throughout the United States.