How to Survive the First Day at a Travel Nursing Job

How to Survive the First Day at a Travel Nursing Job

You might be feeling a little nervous about your first day on the job at a new travel nursing assignment. Worried. Apprehensive. Excited, even. However you feel, keep in mind that you don’t have to step onto the floor unprepared! Whether you are a first-time travel nurse or a seasoned nurse who travels, here are some travel nursing tips to help you calm those first day jitters and step into your new position feeling confident and ready to rock and roll!  

1. Know Where to Go and What to Do on Arrival

This first tip is huge. Whether you are starting an assignment in a state far away from home or just a couple of hours away, you need to know where to go. I’m not just talking about how to get to the facility. It’s also important that you know what to do once you arrive! Try taking a dry run the day before. With factors involved, such as traffic, construction, and other commute timing issues, even with Google Maps or GPS en route – you may find the transit takes more or less time than anticipated. Take a dry run the day before your assignment. Leave at the time you think you’ll need to leave on day one so that you can figure out the route. Once you arrive at the facility, it’s important that you figure out where to park. Sometimes just finding the right spot in the parking garage and walking into the hospital can consume a significant amount of your allotted time for preparation, especially when working at a large hospital. Your recruiter should have you well-equipped with instructions for your first day. These will include where to go once you arrive, where to sign in, what you’re supposed to wear, and a basic rundown of what to expect when you get there. During your test run, be sure to figure out how much time it takes to get to the unit you’ll be working on or signing in at. Be sure that you also get the phone number to the hospital and have it saved in your phone, just in case you need it later.  

2. Get a Solid Night’s Rest

Just like a child who can’t sleep on Christmas Eve, busy anticipating what the next day will hold, you may find it hard to close your eyes and get sound rest the night before the first day of a travel nursing assignment (except that you know there are no presents in store besides maybe a hospital pen and a name badge). Even though your body will likely be worked up and your mind racing with thoughts about the next day, it’s imperative that you follow a good routine and lay down early to be sure that you get adequate rest for your first day. Avoid sugar and caffeine the night before a travel assignment. If there is anything you normally do to help you relax, such as drinking a glass of wine or taking a long bubble bath – do so the night before your first day to ensure you drift off to sleep.  

3. Bring Everything You Need to Work on Day One

Even if your recruiter has assured you that the first day is just an orientation to the facility and you won’t be required to work, come prepared to work anyways. Anything can happen. Bring your scrubs, proper footwear, name badge, your favorite pen, stethoscope, all those tools you need to perform your job duties. Additionally, bring copies of all your paperwork, licenses, certifications, and pocket cards, even if your recruiter has already sent these documents in. Nothing is more stressful than arriving and being turned down to work right away by human resources because you are missing a piece of documentation. Ideally, you should have these items both printed off and saved as digital copies on a USB drive. You never know how long orientation might last so pack a healthy snack and a bottle of water. Also, be sure to bring some cash too, because every facility does not take credit cards for lunch.  

4. Show Up Early to Your First Day of a Travel Nursing Assignment

First impressions are everything. Consider how long the “dry run” took you to arrive at the facility, and adjust your departure time accordingly. Ideally, you should arrive about 15 minutes early. Do your best to continue this routine throughout the duration of your travel nursing assignment. This consistency will also look great on your resume for future jobs and your travel nursing recruiter can stress this as one of your merits to potential employers in the future.  

5. Get Oriented to the Routine Fast with the Right Questions

As a travel nurse, your hospital or facility orientation is going to be fast-paced. You’re going to learn the most when you are actually on the job. It’s important that you know which questions to ask. Write down a list of questions that you want to know, such as codes to access the laundry or medication rooms, specific unit policies regarding insulin administration, who is able to start IVs on the unit, what can be delegated to unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP), etc.  

6. Bring a Positive Attitude and a Team Spirit

Smile big on your first day. Even if you are nervous, this smile will help you look and feel more confident. Be ready to jump in and help out your fellow team members on the floor. Sometimes you might be given a lesser assignment on your first day so that you can quickly orient to the unit and workflow. If this is the case and you find yourself with some extra time, be sure to jump in and assist other team members that need an extra hand.  

7. Introduce Yourself and Take Names

Even if you know that you won’t remember their names in the next hour – at least try and make the effort. Introduce yourself to your new co-workers with a confident smile and a firm handshake. Make a special effort to remember the names of those you will be working with on a consistent basis. Remember, at most facilities, you also work with UAP, secretaries, or LPNs, that should be given the same respect. Be sure not to just make an effort to get to know your fellow nurses, but the others you will be working directly with as these staff members often become the ones you will interact with the most.  

Discover Your Next Travel Nursing Job Today

Are you a first-time travel nurse looking to secure your first assignment? Are you a seasoned travel RN browsing contract options for your next adventure? Either way, we have jobs ready for you! Take a look at our job board to see what’s waiting for you at Elite Staffing Agency, your premier nurse staffing company.