Congratulations! You’ve landed your first travel nursing job and you’re getting ready to take off! Make no mistake, this will be an exciting and challenging time for you, as all firsts tend to be.
Remember your first steps into the nursing education world? This is another first, that should definitely be celebrated, but just as importantly, prepared for. So that’s what we’ll do. We’re going to arm you with strategies to prepare yourself for your first time as a travel nurse. Let’s get started!
1. Allow Us to Set Up Your Travel Nurse Housing
With Elite Specialty Staffing, you have the option to let us set up your housing or for us to provide you a stipend and let you work it out on your own. There is an appeal of finding your own place, but it’s actually a lot of work, risk, and energy. However, because this is your first travel nursing assignment, take the easier path on this one thing, at least this one time. Once you’ve gotten an assignment under your belt and better know what to anticipate for the next time it may be a different story.
2. Make it Your Own Space
Whether you choose to find your own place or let us do the housing work for you, don’t treat it as a temporary place with one foot out the door. Bring a few things along to make it feel like your home. This will be comforting on those days or nights when you’re tired and maybe a little nostalgic for “home”.
3. Be Positive and Read the Room
No one likes working with a negative nurse. You don’t have to be bubbly if it’s not in your nature, simply enter each day/night shift with a positive attitude. It will make you more approachable, more appreciated, and more connected with your peers. Avoid complaining or negative comparisons of your placement to experience in your clinical rotations. I’m not advocating that you be disingenuous or unethical, just be mindful of your attitude and words.
It might be tempting to just chime in if some coworkers are all collectively complaining, but be careful. Those coworkers are (likely) permanent staff and may feel that they’ve earned the right to voice contrary opinions, but they may not be so accepting of you doing the same. The old adage of “if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all” applies in today’s world as well.
4. Orient Yourself to the Town/City/Neighborhood
Before you start working, go to your location a few days early. Take some time to drive around or use the public transportation systems to learn where the grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants are. Getting a feel for your neighborhood can go a long way to acclimatizing to a new place. Not to mention it will come in handy when you’re tired after a long shift and don’t have the brain power to be figuring out the bus schedule.
5. Ask About Dress Code
This one, while easily remedied after one oops moment, is important because you want to make a good first impression. Color coding scrubs by units is becoming more popular in large hospital facilities. You might love to wear your funky Scooby scrubs, but you might not love them as much if everyone else in your unit is wearing solid red or blue for example.
6. Do More than the Minimum
Don’t take this to mean that you should mega overachieve and do more than is safe at your first travel nursing job. To do more than the minimum means that you should keep your eyes open for opportunities to help out. Especially in those first few shifts you’re the new kid on the block, the one that doesn’t know how things work. So, you’re going to be asking questions and taking up people’s time as you get oriented, which is all absolutely understandable and accepted. People will be more open and engaging with you as they see that you are willing to work hard, and help out where you can as you settle in.
7. Be Ready to Have a Weird Schedule
Yep, your schedule could be awkwardly and randomly arranged. You might not get two days in a row off very often. At a travel nursing job, you are serving in an important capacity to ease the work burden of the permanent staff, and in some scheduler’s minds that makes you the obvious choice as the filler around everyone else’s schedule. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, however. You’ll have contact with people from different shift schedules with whom to form connections. Moreover, the bouncing around will offer you varied learning opportunities.
Hopefully you’ll be able to put these strategies into practice and have a wonderful first travel nursing assignment. Try to remember that no matter how hard you try there are bound to be a few disappointments alongside the happy moments. Whether it be the work itself, or a coworker, or the location isn’t the glamorous one you’d been hoping for. Be realistic and understand that every assignment brings opportunities for connections, for learning, and for exploring. Take the good and cherish it, while you take the bad and try to learn from it.
If you’re still wavering about the housing decision (number 1 on this list), why not read our post, “Travel Nurse Housing Pro Tips, Options, and Considerations“? You’ll learn more about the housing options available to you, and have some additional guidance on making the decision.
Bottom line, you decide. We care about our travel nurses and we want your first travel nursing job to be the first of many travel nursing contracts. We’ve also put together a list of things to be sure you pack for your first travel nursing job. Take a look because some of the things on there may surprise you. We do all we can to make it a successful one, if you have questions don’t hesitate to ask!