8 Tips for First-Time Travel Nurses
There’s comfort in habit. Many nurses have their own rituals and routines to help them each day, which is why the idea of travel nursing can feel so jarring — every new assignment comes with a new routine. But, for those willing to break out of their comfort zone and explore new and exciting possibilities, travel nursing opens the door to everything from adventure to professional advancement. You just need to be willing to take that first step.
Like any new thing you’ve ever tried, travel nursing can feel a little uncertain. There are new routines and habits to develop with each assignment you take. It’s totally normal to feel anxious about these types of changes! But, if you think travel nursing is the opportunity for you, don’t let these anxieties hold you back. You need to take that first assignment and be willing to learn what travel nursing is all about through experience.
While you prepare for your first assignment — and your career ahead — keep these eight tips for beginners in mind.
- Get good at research: A lot of preparation goes into having a great travel nursing assignment. Travel nurses must research travel nursing agencies, their upcoming destinations, and more. Get used to doing research in advance for a much smoother transition.
- Prepare your licenses early: Before you can start work in another state, you’ll need to make sure you’re licensed. Check whether your state is part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) or if you’ll need to apply — and make sure you apply early!
- Travel with a friend: A lot of new travel nurses don’t realize that it’s possible to take assignments with another nurse. You can work with your recruiter to find assignments with two open positions and even room together. Having a friend along for the ride can make acclimating much easier.
- Examine the contract: It’s great to get into the habit of reading your contract in full before accepting any assignment. This document includes information about your work schedule, pay, housing, stipends, and more.
- Ask a lot of questions: Hospital orientation for travel nurses typically only lasts a few days. You’re probably going to come out of it with a lot of questions, so don’t be afraid to ask them! Asking questions helps you build confidence in your new facility and get the hang of things faster.
- Explore specialty options: Specialties can do a lot to differentiate a travel nurse and make it easier to secure coveted assignments. If there’s an area of nursing you’re interested in, consider obtaining certifications early in your career to give you a leg up.
- Network with other travelers: Networking with other nurses is something every travel nurse should do from day one. Not only will it help you make new friends at each facility, it also will create connections that might open doors for opportunities later.
- Take advantage of free time: One of the biggest benefits of travel nursing is the travel, so don’t be afraid to explore each location you visit. Take full advantage of your free time and try new things to get the full experience.
Travel nursing might seem daunting at first, but it becomes more familiar in time. You’ll find that getting acclimated gets easier with each successive assignment. Following these tips, you can form a solid foundation on which to build a blossoming travel nursing career.