Just Getting Started: Advice for First-Time Travelers
Do you feel that? The first-time travel nurse assignment jitters? The uncertainty and anxiety surrounding your first nursing assignment can be overwhelming. Our first piece of advice is not to worry! Use the following tips to prepare yourself and you’ll be able to calm your fears.
Be an Organized, Light Packer
Don’t be that travel nurse who brings everything and the kitchen sink to her first assignment. You don’t need six pairs of the same shoes and delicate stemware. Most importantly, remember that you’ll have to unpack everything yourself, too!
Considering that your assignment will only be for a few months, pare down your items to the essentials. Pick your favorite functional and comfortable clothes and shoes. Use a laptop as a TV and schedule a grocery delivery for after you arrive. You can purchase essentials like garbage cans, a shower curtain and other items after you get to your new place.
Start Building Your Network Before You Arrive
Use free resources like The Gypsy Nurse group on Facebook so you can tap into nurses familiar with the area. You can get tips, advice and you may even find a few friends! At Travel Nurse Across America, we have great resources like another blog titled “What Travel Nurses Wish They’d Known Before Taking Their First Assignments” that can give you an idea about what to know before you go and who to connect with.
Give Yourself Time to Settle In
Arrive three to five days in advance of your start date so you have time to move in and acclimate to your new town. You’ll want to find a grocery store, gas station and cafe near home. Drive or take public transportation to the hospital or clinic so you get used to the route. Ask for a tour of the hospital and to meet your supervisor and team before you start so you become more comfortable. That way, you can start your first day feeling comfortable and calm.
Make the Extra Effort to Know Your Coworkers
If you’re introverted, now is not the time to hunker down alone at home while you settle into a new community. Reach out and make an effort to be a positive presence in the hospital or clinic. Bring coffee and bagels for everyone or connect with a couple of colleagues and invite them out to a local cafe. Acknowledge that your colleagues have knowledge that you can tap into and offer up some of your own experiences in exchange. Always be respectful, kind and open, and you’ll be sure to make a great impression.
Prepare for Some Challenges
Your greatest strength is how you respond to challenges. Some travel nurses are given rude patients or assignments that are undesirable. Others are made to “sink or swim” in the new environment. Maintain a positive outlook and give it your all. Find a way to manage stress by exercising or meditating so you can feel balanced. If the situation with your coworkers still doesn’t improve, then remember that it’s temporary and you’ll be on to the next job soon enough.
Stay in Touch with Your Recruiter
Keep the lines of communication with your TNAA recruiter open so you can alert him or her to any issues. Schedule a weekly call so you can explain any problems that arise – your recruiter can help you get in touch with the right person to help with housing, colleagues or paychecks. Your recruiter works behind the scenes to get you your next assignment and can help you to extend your contract.
Have Fun Recording Your Travel Nursing Experiences
A new adventure like travel nursing is going to present some challenges and give you opportunities to grow. Have fun recording your travel nursing experiences – even the tough ones – by scrapbooking, making a video log or writing letters to yourself. In a few years, you’ll be glad you did.
Deciding to take on your first travel nursing assignment is a huge step. You’re choosing an adventurous life full of change and new experiences. Enjoy this new beginning by maintaining your positivity and reminding yourself why you want to be a travel nurse – whether it is for a life change, to see new places, meet new people, or gain new skills – these experiences are guaranteed to be in store!