You are about to embark on your first adventure in travel nursing and you start to wonder what you will encounter in the weeks ahead. What if you forget to bring something, or don’t know what to do once you get there? Never fear, there are some simple things that can help new travel nurses be prepared for just about anything.
Onward Healthcare offers these essential tips to start strong and enjoy a successful travel RN assignment:
1. Ask the experts. The travel nursing world may seem new to you, but your recruiter has likely helped dozens of other nurses like yourself find their way and enjoy a successful first assignment. Use any and all checklists and guides he or she provides, and don’t hesitate to ask more questions about traveling in general, and about your specific assignment and location. The housing specialists can also provide you with tips about apartments, rules for pets, where to find local resources, etc.
2. Don’t skimp on the paperwork. Amid your excitement to start traveling, don’t neglect to submit all forms on time with complete and accurate information. From applications and skills checklists to license verifications, your staffing team is relying on your information to smooth the way for your interviews, placements and onboarding with your new employer. At Onward Healthcare, our quality assurance specialists will work with you to make sure that everything is in place before your assignment begins.
3. Pack only necessities, plus a few things you love. “Travel light” is the travel nurse’s mantra, but you also want to ensure that you don’t leave important things behind.
The essentials include:
- (1) paperwork and approved scrubs/uniform for your assignment; (2) IDs, credit/debit cards, key contacts and financial records;
- (3) laptop or tablet, smart phone, plus chargers and accessories;
- (4) a reasonable amount of personal items and clothing, including mixable pieces to span weather variations;
- (5) linens and household goods that are not furnished in your apartment;
- (6) a few favorite photos, decorations and mementos to make your new place feel like home. Your recruiter can provide a more detailed list of what you’ll want to pack or pick up once you’re there.
4. Arrive early and know where to go. Give yourself a few days to move into your new apartment and feel reasonably settled, and figure out the route to work before you actually have to report. Experienced travel nurses recommend taking a trial run during your normal commuting time so you know how long it will take you. Have the contact information for the manager with you, and get there early on your first day for meetings and orientation.
5. Be neighborly. During the first couple of weeks in your new location, take some time every day to get out and explore the surrounding area. Ask people in your neighborhood for suggestions of where to shop, where to eat and what to see. Invite fellow travelers and other co-workers to join you as you explore the area and its attractions. Participate in community events whenever possible, or volunteer for a cause close to your heart. Overall, making the effort to get to know a wide variety of people will enrich your travel experience.
6. Be in the know. Learn as much about your assignment facility as you can before you arrive. Then, starting with your traveler orientation, listen closely, take notes, study procedures manuals, ask questions and clarify anything that isn’t completely clear. You may be assigned a short-term mentor whom you can shadow for a few days, but make sure you know who you can contact on the floor with questions at all times. Onward Healthcare also has clinical liaisons their travel RNs can get in touch with around the clock, if necessary.
7. Be confident, friendly and flexible. You were hired because of your nursing skills, so remember that although some things are different, patient care is much the same from one facility to the next. As the new nurse on the unit, the task of getting acquainted will rest more on you than the staff, so start out by introducing yourself with a smile and an outstretched hand; most people will respond accordingly. Challenge yourself to remember names, and be willing to step in and help out where needed. Hard work and a positive attitude will see you through—resulting in strong references for future travel nurse jobs or even an offer for a contract extension.