Many new nurses begin their careers with a goal in mind: become a travel nurse and see the country while providing lifesaving care. Travel nursing is exciting, pays well, and is great for the resume.
While it’s a great goal to have, it’s important to wait until you have enough experience as a nurse. Most travel nursing job applications require candidates to have at least two years of full-time experience as an RN. Some facilities may accept candidates with less than two years, but it’s very rare to see any travel nurse jobs available to RNs with less than 18 months of full-time experience.
As a travel nurse, you must adapt to a new environment quickly in only a few days of orientation (or less time, even). After those days are up, you’re still free to ask your fellow nurses for help, but you’re functioning as an independent nurse. In a short time, you need to learn where supply items are located, get to know your fellow nurses and coworkers, and learn the layout of the hospital. Certain pieces of equipment and supplies may function differently than you’re used to, and you may also need to learn a new charting system. All of these things to absorb in such a short amount of time can overwhelm a nurse without enough experience.
After two years of working as a nurse, you develop your own system of managing your workload and your patients. For example, you may find it’s helpful to keep a “brain sheet” with patient details, med times, or tasks. You become more confident and knowledgeable in your role as a nurse with experience, and as a result, you are better able to manage day-to-day stresses and respond to different types of emergencies in true super-nurse fashion. Waiting to travel until you have at least two years of experience will give both you and your patients a better chance of success.
If you’re considering travel nursing for the first time, the Travel Nurse Academy is a great place to start.