Are you starting your career as a travel nurse but feeling overwhelmed?
You’re not alone. The transition from a staff nurse to a travel nurse position can be exciting and challenging simultaneously. Travel nursing can be an excellent opportunity and rewarding career, but it can also be intimidating for new nurses unfamiliar with the process. Every journey has its perks, and so does travel nursing. In this guide, I’ll share 13 things you should follow before starting travel nursing as a newbie. From navigating taxes to finding affordable housing, you’ll get all the key areas you need to consider to make your travel nursing lifestyle successful.
So, if you’re ready to hit the road and make the most of your nursing career, read on!
Travel Nurse Tips For Newbies
Here are 13 tips to know before starting travel nursing as a newbie.
Read Your Travel Contract
First and foremost, read the travel contract carefully to know whether all your requirements are accepted. As a travel nurse, I understand the importance of reviewing my travel contract before signing it.
Every travel nurse should know the details of the contract, such as the period of the assignment, travel nurse salary, meal packages, insurance, and housing stipends.
Later, I wished I had read the contract carefully and asked about policies.
In addition, it’s necessary to know specific dates, such as the start and termination of an assignment or contract and the requirements for renewing it, paying attention to details like schedules, work hours, night shifts, and the terms and conditions of the facility.
Next time, I won’t commit this blunder because understanding my contract helps me prepare for my next travel nursing adventure with confidence.
Research Your Contract Location Before You Reach There
When I stepped into the travel nursing career, I had yet to learn how to research the contract location before heading there. After spending a year there, I knew how important it was to study the place before moving there. Therefore, travel nurses should have accurate knowledge about the location to which they are traveling.
Every area has particular weather conditions. According to my destination’s weather forecast, I packed seasonal clothes to protect myself from adverse weather conditions.
I also researched the country’s currency, prices of food, and tax compliances to prepare my budget for it. Searched online for resources, located budget-friendly places, and identified safe housing areas.
Complete information about the contract location helped me throughout the journey and saved me from mishaps.
Don’t Take All Your Belongings With You
Your packing will decide if you will turn your journey into a best friend or a nightmare.
When I started my career as a traveling nurse, it felt tempting to carry all my belongings, but later I realized it was better to take only the essentials. As a travel nurse, this was the biggest mistake I made by overpacking my backpack. I got so frustrated unpacking and repacking the stuff.
While carrying loads of packages, it was difficult for me to move around, and I also feared that someone would steal my precious belongings from the car. It also occupied valuable space in my temporary housing.
Next time, I could focus on my assignment when I brought the essentials rather than excessive belongings. This way, I saved money on transportation; and experienced the ultimate joy of travel nursing.
Pick A Travel Agency For The Recruiter
It’s only sometimes valid that big agencies provide better opportunities. In contrast, I talked to some big and famous agency recruiters, but their attitude stressed me, being the worst travel nurse company.
So, I took time to research and connect with the ones who matched my requirements. I found them trustworthy, lenient, and caring; this made my travel nursing journey easy and exciting.
Are you fed up with your job?
If the contract has yet to end, keep the job. Keep working and building strong bonds with employers until the contract ends. If we ghost, the recruiter will only recommend us to job seekers.
Moreover, if we show poor performance or attendance during the job, the company or the hospital will put us on the blacklist, and Recruiters will never hire us.
It’s crucial to maintain good communication with agencies and hospitals. Establishing long-term relationships or feeling a sense of community can take time. But being flexible and open to new experiences can lead to a better overall experience.
I wish I had known before starting travel nursing as a newbie, as I was on a 13-week assignment and had a bad experience with the manager. I was about to leave the contract in mid-stream, but a little search regarding it saved me from doing so.
Ask Questions During Orientation
When I reached the contract location, the Agency arranged a two-day traveler orientation. I lost, just listening to the trainee but not uttering a single word. I was afraid as I met new people at a new location and didn’t ask questions.
It was my fault, yet I don’t want you to experience this worst phase. Consider asking questions in the orientation. When I was on the next round, I kept asking questions to clarify my doubts about the hospital procedures, stipulations, or weekends. It proved helpful as I could set my priorities depending on the assignment.
Never feel ashamed to ask for help or a question when in a travel nursing position, as it’s our learning phase.
Learn To Embrace Your Schedule
It is a sensitive subject, so be cautious when discussing the schedule. Even the manager will only hear your reasons if you’re comfortable with the assignment schedule. Therefore, travel nurses should stay polite and understand the situation.
I talked to the manager in case I had issues with the contract, but once I signed the agreement, I tried to move according to the schedule. Otherwise, it could harm my career.
When it was necessary, I asked my colleague nurses to exchange shifts. I wrapped up my task quickly and enjoyed myself while exploring different places. It was fun wandering around and capturing new things besides work.
Don’t Think You Know New Hospital Procedures
In my travel nursing experience, I found every hospital has different procedures. The lab’s work, paging doctors, and charting must comply with the policies.
I don’t consider it difficult, but gradually I adapted to the new condition.
Not treated the same as nurse staff
No matter how long-term experienced travel nurses are, they take freshers on the floor. My experience in the second location was where they treated me differently than other nurses. It may be due to the jealousy of being highly paid, or some other reason.
A nurse is bullied in such situations as I was once, but I never allowed anything to spoil my career and let it go. I moved on, ignoring it, thinking that this short period would pass.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
As a travel nurse, I have years of experience, but every hospital operates differently, so we should ask for help if we need help figuring out what to do.
However, it’s not a shameful act. A patient’s safety is a top priority for the hospital staff. So, instead of creating a mess, learning from our colleagues is far better.
Learn From Experienced Travel Nurses
Being a staff nurse and a travel nurse are entirely different games. I learned about the challenges, hospital procedures, and travel assignments of a travel nurse. Thus, I did suffer in the beginning.
However, after a year, I noticed there were well-experienced travel nurses who could help me sort out my challenges. That’s why I recommend learning from and gaining knowledge from veterans, as they help us climb the ladder of success.
Develop a learner’s mentality to be a student always!
Be Ready For Unexpected Situations
Nothing is supposed to be perfect in our lives and careers. We should be prepared to tackle any unexpected situation. A recruiter could cancel our contract or shift and replace it with any other option to ensure we keep working.
My recruiter did recommend my desired location, but due to an emergency, they assigned some other site. I got frustrated but soon realized that this could ruin my career, so I had to bear it.
Learn to ride the wave!
Q.1. How to become a travel nurse?
To become a travel nurse, you must be a licensed RN, have a minimum of 1-2 years of experience in your specialty, and pass a background check and drug screen.
Q.2. What are the benefits of travel nursing?
- High pay
- Health insurance
- Opportunity for career advancement
- Tax-free housing and travel stipends
- Retirement plans
Q.3. How do I decide where to go on a travel nursing assignment?
Consider factors such as the desired location, cost of living, and climate, as well as the availability of the desired assignment and pay rate.
Q.4. Can I bring my family on my travel nursing assignments?
Yes, many travel nursing companies offer family-friendly options.
Q.5. What are the tips for making travel nursing a success?
Learn these tips before starting travel nursing as a newbie.
- Plan ahead
- Be open-minded
- Network with other travel nurses
- Be flexible
- Save money
So, are you ready to become a travel nurse?
It’s an exciting, adventurous journey. As a newbie travel nurse, it was challenging since I only knew a few things that Travel nurses should consider in this career. But now! I love to explore new places, make new friends, and tackle challenges. Travel nursing career has its charms and pleasures. I’m not bound to a single place but can cross state borders and live my life. I wish I had known this before starting travel nursing as a newbie, yet I have elaborated on everything we should know before leaping into the travel nurse position.