Considering a career as a travel nurse is a great way to showcase your skills, explore new places, and gain new experience, but it can be daunting when you actually sign up for it. Of course, it's normal to feel overwhelmed, anxious and possibly even uncertain you made the right decision. Here are 7 tips if you're new to travel nursing and how you can be sure you're setting yourself up for success.
Talk with other travel nurses
Talking with other travel nurses can help you decide on an agency, and where you want to work. There are so many online groups out there that travel nurses and those interested in the opportunity can come together and bounce ideas and job locations off of. Ask your questions and find out where the good places to go are and which ones to avoid. Get help with negotiating your assignment contracts and how to navigate the move from one location to another.
Make sure your nursing license is up to date. Don't forget all your necessary paperwork to take with you for your first day. Also, pay attention to the items you're packing. Most assignments are 13 weeks, so think about what you need to take and what you can live without for a few months. You can always buy things once you arrive so that you don't have to travel with them. Make sure you read your contract thoroughly and understand exactly what it entails before you start working.
Get settled in before you officially start work
Try to arrive at your new destination early so you can have some time to move into your housing, unpack and get a chance to relax before your first day. Make sure you know exactly how to get to your assignment and how far away it is from your housing. The last thing you want to do is be late on your first day of work.
Know what you're getting into
Travel nursing is all about change. You may be assigned to one unit, but you also have the potential to bounce around on different ones. Regardless of what you do, as a travel nurse, you're the newest member and it may take some time for your co-workers to assess your skill set and develop trust with you. Try not to take it personally because these things take some time.
Don't be afraid to ask questions
You already have experience as a nurse, but you will be a new nurse to that facility. Find out everything you can beforehand about your assignment and how your new unit is run. Once you've started, make sure you know where all the important supplies are located, such as emergency equipment, and processes for documentation and reporting. Figure out where everything is so that especially in an emergency, you are as prepared as possible.
Come in with an open mind
Be open to learning new ways of doing things as well as teaching others your own tricks you've picked up in your own experiences. Even things such as learning a new charting system is a big feat. Give yourself permission to take everything in and be patient with yourself.
Those weeks or months on assignment, whether good or bad, are going to end. It's a good idea to start thinking about where you want to be next before your current assignment is through. Think about if you want to extend your contract or move on and if so, where? Along with this is applying for another nursing license in another state, so this alone is a good push to think forward in the future.