What to Expect During Your First Travel Nursing Assignment

Gearing up for and working on your first travel nursing assignment can be thrilling and intimidating at the same time. The experience will help build your resume, expand your skillset, and make you a stronger nurse ready for whatever comes next.

Work with a travel nursing employment that offers great benefits and reimbursements. Make sure to have excellent letters of professional reference.

Arrive Well-Rested

Getting enough quality rest is one of the keys to success as a travel nurse. This is especially important if you work the night shift. Establishing a good sleep routine will help you fall and stay asleep, giving you the best chance for a great night of rest every night.

Make sure to research where you will be working and what to expect. You should also familiarize yourself with your commute and determine how long it will take to and from work when traffic is factored in.

You may not be the first traveler to show up for your assignment, so you should ask other travel nurses for advice on what to expect at your new facility and how to get acclimated. Having fellow travel nurses in the same department as you can be a great support system, and they will have plenty of local recommendations for fun things to do on your days off.

Sometimes hospitals can surprise you with unanticipated curveballs, like shortening your hours or requiring that you float when you said you wouldn’t. If this happens, speak to your recruiter immediately to discuss your options.

Be Prepared

Feeling apprehensive on your first day at a new job is common, especially as a travel nurse. It’s a different experience from the first day of school. You are already a professional nurse but must make a good first impression on the team at your new facility. You may also have to attend orientation and participate in a cohort of new hires.

You should have been given instructions and first-day instructions from your travel nursing agency, and you should be familiar with the location of your work and your apartment. It helps you get to your new home a day or two before you start your assignment and explore the neighborhood on foot. Figure out how long it will take you to commute to work and if there are any areas you want to avoid due to traffic or noise.

Talk to your travel nurse recruiter about the assignments you seek and what you’re willing to work on regarding locations and specialties. This can help you get more assignments matching your preferences, making your travel nursing career much more rewarding.

Ask Questions

While travel nursing assignments may be advertised with specific details, such as location and shift, it’s important to ask questions when interviewing. An in-depth look into the contract conditions, housing options, and compliance requirements will help you better prepare for your assignment.

Asking questions can also show that you’re ready for the responsibilities of a travel nurse. For example, if asked about your career goals and how you plan to achieve them, you can answer by sharing an instance when you handled a difficult situation with a patient or customer.

In addition, ask your recruiter what protections are in place if the hospital shortens your hours or fails to meet certain cleanliness standards. Knowing how to address issues before they arise can ensure you’re happy with your assignment. If you have concerns, contact your recruiter immediately and explain the issue in detail. Your recruiter can then work with the facility to resolve the problem or put you in touch with someone who can. Your health and safety should always be a top priority.

Be Flexible

Keeping an open mind and staying flexible can be helpful during your first travel nursing assignment. It’s not uncommon for hospitals to tweak procedures or expectations during a travel nurse’s contract. This can be due to patient volume or the need for new equipment. A flexible attitude will allow you to adapt to these changes without feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

It’s also important to remain flexible regarding your work assignments. Your supervisor may want to see how well you work under pressure or put you in a difficult situation to test your skills and abilities. If you have a travel nurse recruiter, they can help guide you through these situations as they arise.

Last but not least, be sure to stay in touch with your travel nurse recruiter. They can offer support before, during, and after your travel nursing assignment. This can include helping you find a home away from home by providing housing options, assisting with licensure questions, and providing on-the-job training. They can also ensure that your medical records are sent to the correct location and that you have all the documentation you need for your assignment.

Be Open to Help

Whether new or seasoned travel nurses, co-workers are a good resource during your first assignment. Ask them for tips on adjusting to your new environment, finding housing, and more. They also have an insider’s perspective on the local community and can help you find the best spots for fun off-duty activities.

Do a hospital walk-through before your first work day to see what to expect. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with the facility, locate important devices and stations, and visualize your workflow. Plus, you can know where to park on campus and the commute.

If you have family and pets, consider a pet sitter or having them boarded during your assignment so you can spend quality time with them during your days off. Creating a healthy work-life balance will keep you from feeling burnt out and boost your satisfaction with the travel nurse lifestyle. In addition, being a travel nurse can help you build strong professional skills that you can take to future assignments.

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