Tip #1: Make Sure You’ve Found the Perfect Recruiter
This is probably the most important tip on the list. Your recruiter will be by your side every step of the way on your travel nursing journey, and having one you can trust to have your back is probably the most important aspect that determines your success navigating ups and downs on your travel nursing assignment.
Here’s a disclaimer: not every nurse will have the same perfect recruiter! One nurse’s perfect recruiter might be straightforward and professional, always giving you details and cutting out the fluff. Another nurse’s perfect recruiter could be someone that you can talk to on the phone for hours and develop a deep relationship with that goes beyond work.
There are a few qualities you should look for when you’re deciding on which recruiter is right for you:
- Honesty: is this recruiter telling me the truth about this facility/assignment/pay package?
- Experience: how many nurses has this recruiter worked with, and how capable are they when something goes wrong?
- Timely Communication: if I need my recruiter urgently, will they pick up the phone? Most recruiters work on a Mon-Fri schedule, but will make time for some weekend and evening communication since they know their nurses work around the clock
If anything comes up on your assignment that you’re not expecting, your recruiter will be the first point of contact in remedying the situation. So, make sure you’ve found someone you connect with and can have honest conversations with.
Tip #2: Ask Questions!
Going into an assignment without knowing all the details could lead to disaster. It’s important to know what to expect, as well as find out things that less savory recruiters might not divulge themselves. It’s a good idea to ask about things like information about the facility, staff ratios, ancillary staff, scheduling, floating policy, which units you will float to, etc. These are just a few of the details you could ask about – if you have anything that is a deal-breaker for you, or would make you uncomfortable, don’t suffer in silence or make excuses in your head. Bring it up to your recruiter so that you can get the answers you need and make sure your next travel assignment is perfect.
Tip #3: Take a tour of the hospital
No matter how many travel assignments you’ve worked, it can always help to do a hospital walk-through before the first day of your assignment. Beyond just knowing where the important devices and stations are, it can be helpful to visualize your first day and know what to expect. Picture yourself caring for patients, coordinating with other nurses, and locating medicine. When you show up for work on your first day of your assignment, you’ll be able to jump straight into work, without trying to get your bearings on your surroundings for a few hours (or a few days) at the beginning of your assignment.
Tip #4: Be Friendly, Positive, and a Team Player
Now that you’ve taken care of the technical stuff, you can focus on how to get into the right mindset for your upcoming assignment! There’s a few ways to make sure that your transition is smooth, and that you get your assignment off to the right start:
- Be Friendly: your assignment will be a breeze if you’re on great terms with your fellow nurses and hospital staff.
- Be Positive: don’t be the nurse who complains about coworkers or shows up to work cranky. You get what you give, and you may find your fellow nurses being negative towards you if that’s the energy you’re bringing to work. You don’t have to be a ray of sunshine 24/7, but try to avoid putting negative thoughts into words at work excessively.
- Be a Team Player: support your coworkers whenever possible. Make their lives easier, and they will do the same for you!
Tip #5: Socialize and Explore!
“Travel nursing” is only half about nursing… it’s also about the travel! If you’re just working, going back to your temporary housing, and then working again for the length of your 13-week assignment, you’ll probably start to feel burnt out. Take advantage of the opportunity to see a new part of the country and meet new people. Use your off days to explore your new city and meet up with groups in the area. Soon you’ll have more to do than just work.