Travel nursing is an incredibility rewarding experience that can change your life and the lives of others. But ask anyone whose traveled before and they will tell you some of the newbie mistakes that were made. Here are some to avoid.
When looking for any opportunity, being narrow-minded significantly limits the options available to a travel nurse. That’s not to say you should be completely open to anything and go where you’re told to go. But the other end of the spectrum is also true. If you want to be working in Hawaii, making $200 per hour, only taking patients in a room with windows facing the beach, you will have trouble finding work. Its best to setup a couple “deal-breakers” and be open to other details. Maybe Hawaii isn’t available this time around but what about a beach community in Southern California or Florida? Be open, listen and research. An opportunity may present itself that’s much better than you expected and may just end up being the best adventure of your life.
Know Your Contact, All of It
Your travel nursing contract is critical and shouldn’t be glazed over. Read and re-read it. Be sure to understand your pay, rates, differentials, bonuses, paydays, shift, contract duration, housing, reimbursements, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, review changes and most importantly be happy with what you’re signing.
Not Being Prepared
When is the best time to start preparing? Now. Always now. Whether you’re new to travel nursing or a long-time pro, there is a lot of paperwork that needs to be compiled or completed. Make sure you’re licensed in the state you want to work. Work with your recruiter on resume preparation, skills checklists, licensing requirements, drug screens, immunizations, testing, etc. Get everything done as promptly as possible.
Also, be prepared when you’re about ready to arrive for your first day. Have everything handy that you’ll need. Know where to go. Know who you will be meeting. Know what time to be there and don’t be late.
Not Understanding Your Housing
If your agency will coordinate your housing for you, make sure you communicate what you want and be sure they provide what you need. Know what’s included and what you need to bring.
If you’re handling your housing on your own, don’t wait. Get it done early and be prepared. Keep your accommodations big enough to make you happy, but there’s no point in paying for space you don’t need.
Bringing Way Too Much Stuff
Pack enough but not too much. Sounds easy right? Talk to a couple seasoned travel nursing pros and your recruiter. Many first time travel nurses pack way too much and learn to improve their packing skills over time. Know your housing arrangements and what’s included.
Assumes You Know the Policies and Procedures
Every facility is different and they all have their own ways of handling processes and procedures. Don’t assume you know them. Be sure to ask questions, research what you can, and talk to your recruiter.
Avoid Drama and Cliques
Being new to the hospital can be daunting. Be sure to make friends and enjoy the experience. Unfortunately, an easy pitfall is joining in workplace cliques and drama to gain early acceptance. The short-term benefits of making some quick friends can quickly give way to being considered a gossip, drama queen, or not a team player.
Being a Know It All
Travel nurses are experienced, seasoned nurses with strong backgrounds and skills. Your abilities will let you hit the ground running in almost any situation. Don’t fool yourself though, you can’t know it all. Every hospital does things a little differently. Some ways may be better than others. Be careful to balance your input on comparing your experiences and sounding like a know it all. It’s important to understand that you don’t need to pretend to be an expert and have all the answers. Ask questions and learn about how each location can teach you something new.
Being a Temporary Nurse
Travel nurses are brought in for a variety of reasons. Maybe the census is up in seasonal locations such as Florida in the winter. Maybe the facility is having trouble finding enough nurses in the local area. Whatever the reason, a travel nurse is a part of the team. Don’t act like a temporary nurse whose just there to help out and move on. Participate with other permanent staff, support each other and jump in whenever you can.
Never burn a bridge. Maybe your assignment is up and you think you’ll never be back. Or you’ll never run into that manager or administrator again. Always work hard and leave on good terms. You never know when you’ll need those people again and certainly don’t want to create a reputation within a travel nursing community.
It’s not too soon to start looking for your next opportunity. The sooner you begin the process, the better chance you have lining up your next amazing adventure!
Work / Life Balance
Get out there and have some fun! Enjoy your new community, be involved. See the sites and what this beautiful country has to offer!
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