9 Steps to Make Your First Travel Nurse Assignment a Success

travel nurse

9 Steps to Make Your First Travel Nurse Assignment a Success

You’ve been a nurse for a while now and mastered many nursing skills. Now you are ready for a change in scenery, an adventure, flexibility, or better pay. You’ve done hours of research. You have built a relationship with an agency and recruiter. You have signed your contract. Now it is time to get in gear and start preparing for your first travel nursing assignment. Follow these nine steps to help you prepare for a successful first travel nurse assignment and career as a travel nurse.

Start Planning, Make Arrangements, and Get Organized

Once your contract is signed, you should start planning the logistics. Consider these questions:

How are you going to get to your destination?

Will you be flying, driving, or taking some other type of transportation to your location?

Where will you be staying as a travel nurse?

Your travel agency may have housing options available or be able to make recommendations. If not, work on finding housing that will fit your needs and won’t be too far from your assigned facility.

How will you get to your job site?

Plan on how you will be getting to work. If you are flying to your destination, you may have to rent a car or take public transportation to get to work. If your accommodations are very close to the assigned facility you may be able to walk or ride a bike.

Where will you get food?

Check out a map to see where the local grocery stores and restaurants are so you know what to expect when you get there.

Where will you wash your clothes?

Check to see if your living accommodations have a laundry machine and dryer available. If not, check to see where there is a local laundromat or laundry service available.

What will you do with your current residence?

Are you able to just lock up and go on your travel assignment or will you have to make arrangements for someone to keep an eye on your residence? Do you have plants that need to be watered? If you have pets, you will have to get someone to care for them while you are gone or plan on taking them with you. Arrange for your mail to be forwarded to you, picked up by someone, or held at the post office. Cancel any memberships or subscriptions you won’t be using while away. Make sure your bills are all electronic so that you can pay them while you are away.

Are you up to date with all your immunizations, certifications, and licenses?

You will have to submit all this to your agency ahead of time but it is a good idea for you to keep track of this yourself. It will be easier to complete these obligations at home before you go if they are going to expire while you are away on an assignment.

Planning all the logistics ahead of time will help reduce anxiety. If you are nervous about completing your first travel nurse assignment, consider choosing an assignment in an area you have been to before, that you are familiar with, know someone in the area, or somewhere similar to where you are from. This will help take some of those first-time assignment jitters away.

Begin Packing Your Belongings

Packing can easily get overwhelming, especially when you will be away from home for an extended period of time. Less is more when it comes to packing. Think about what you will really need. Consider the weather where you are going. Will it be warm, cold, snowy, or rainy? Remember that even if you forget something or need something new, you can always pick it up there or order it online.

Prepare For Your First Day as a Travel Nurse

The first days are hard for everyone. The best thing you can do to fight those first-day jitters is to be as prepared as possible. Take a test drive to your assigned facility so you know how to get there and where to park. If possible, talk to the facility, a manager, or another nurse from the unit you will be working on. Make sure to prepare your food, clothes, and transportation. Don’t forget to set your alarm. Make sure to get some good sleep so you are well-rested. Allow yourself plenty of time to get ready and get to work.

Get There Early and Introduce Yourself

Being early for your work day will give you time to get acclimated to the unit and introduce yourself to the other staff. Take a look around. Make a note of any door codes you may need and where the supplies are kept. Take some time to look over your patient assignment and orders. Introduce yourself to every single person you come across. You will be working around these people for a while and you want to make a good first impression.

Have a Positive Attitude, Jump Right In, and Be Helpful

Be friendly and have a positive attitude. Having a positive attitude will show people that you are excited to be there and get to work. If someone needs help, be the first one to lend them a hand. This shows that you are a team player. If you are always willing to help others, then they will be more willing to help you when you need it. Always maintain good working relationships with all the staff at your assigned facility.

Ask Questions as a Travel Nurse

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You will probably have a lot of questions during your first few shifts but it will get easier. Every facility you work at may have different policies, procedures, and ways of doing things so make sure you know where they keep these documents and who your go to person should be for questions.

Build a Travel Nurse Routine

Once you are comfortable with how the facility is run and where the supplies are, start to build a routine. This may look like arriving to work early, putting your belongings away, getting out any needed supplies, checking your patient assignment, checking orders, and getting report. Building a routine will make you more comfortable and help you adjust to the workplace with confidence.

Stay in Touch With Your Loved Ones and Keep Doing What You Love

You may experience some feelings of homesickness. Even though you are away from home it doesn’t mean you can’t stay in touch with your loved ones or that you have to give up your hobbies. Schedule a time or day that you will chat and catch up with your loved ones. Schedule time to do your hobbies. These activities will help you avoid homesickness and decompress.

Enjoy the Travel Nurse Experience

One of the best things about being a travel nurse is that you get to see and experience new places. You can immerse yourself in a new culture and see different areas of the country. Every place you go will be different. Check out some local restaurants. Explore some nearby landmarks. Do some shopping. Take some time to explore and enjoy the experience.