Are you a new travel nurse and are confident, but nervous about taking the leap into the new world? Or maybe you have overwhelming excitement about your new career. Heading out on your first travel nurse assignment can produce a wide array of emotions. Our team of dedicated travel nurse recruiters is here to support you, make that first travel nursing job go as smoothly as possible and help you land your dream job faster. Did you know speed matters when submitting your application? Don't miss out on your dream job because you were 'too slow'. When you travel with us, you'll be submitted faster than your peers so you can be first in line for an interview. Take control of your career today.
Here are tips for your first travel nursing assignment.
1. BE READY FOR CHANGE
Starting a new job always puts butterflies in your stomach, but that feeling may be more intense when you’re in a new city for the first time. Preparing yourself for lots of changes can help you embrace the excitement of the travel nurse experience rather than focusing on any possible anxiety. Remember, there are lots of travel nurses that are starting their new travel nursing contracts too.
Whether it’s learning a new charting system, or changing shifts with a coworker, as a travel nurse you will need to adapt to change quickly. Take this opportunity to learn about yourself, a few new travel nurse tips, and maybe meet some really cool people along the way.
2. READ THE FINE PRINT
When you first receive your travel nurse contract, make sure to read it over carefully. A lot of first time travel nurses make the mistake of not reading the fine print! Always read your contract thoroughly, with Health Carousel Travel Nursing or any other travel nurse agencies, and verify all details before signing.
If you don’t understand what something means or notice something wrong on your travel nursing contract, feel free to ask your travel nurse recruiter. We are here to provide you with a full circle of support, 365 days a year so send your questions our way! Travel nurse recruiters are there to help guide you along every step of the way. Do your research ahead of time regarding reputable travel nurse agencies, so you can save yourself a few headaches when it comes to contract time.
3. DO YOUR RESEARCH ABOUT THE HEALTHCARE FACILITY
Number 3 on our list of tips is to research the facility. Do a quick Google search or map check on the healthcare facility you will be going to. It can help ease your mind if you know a little bit about the surrounding area, like where the grocery stores are or how many highways you will have to take to get to work. Find out what attractions and places to unwind are nearby.
Knowing the size of the hospital, if they have any designations such as a trauma or stroke center, and what population they serve can help you prepare for your time there.
4. HAVE SOME SAVINGS
It is always a good idea to have a decent savings account balance before deciding to become a travel nurse. Consider potential higher costs of living and any added expenses when planning your first travel nurse assignment like all the cool places you will want to visit in new cities. If you decide to take some time off between your travel nurse assignments, it’s also nice to have a savings cushion.
5. BE OPEN TO NEW EXPERIENCES
Number 5 on our is to be open to new experiences. In order to get the most out of travel nursing, you may have to give up your ideal requirement of only working the day shift in a beach town! The great thing about travel nursing is that it’s all temporary, and all experience is valuable.
Each hospital that utilizes travel nurses truly needs help. Try taking shorter assignments in different places and types of facilities to see what you really like. Don’t be afraid of leaving that comfort zone!
6. CHECK YOUR LICENSING
Before the start date of any assignment it’s imperative to have your licensing information in order and see if there are any nurse licensure updates. Your travel nurse recruiter is going to ask you for it. Depending on the state you are traveling to or if they aren’t a compact state, you may need to research licensing information requirements. Search for any required nurse licensure updates and obtain a state nursing license.
7. HAVE YOUR DOCUMENTS IN ORDER
One of the best tips is to have all of your documents in order before speaking to a recruiter — Because they are going to ask! Have copies of your nursing degree or diploma, compact or state nursing license, certifications, immunizations, and PPD screening results. In addition, once you sign your contract, expect to take a drug screening and have a physical exam through a third party vendor. To learn more tips about what documents you may need, click here. Save time - manage your credentialing documents and job applications in one place in On Demand, our powerful web app.
8. BUILD A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR RECRUITER
Another one of our great tips is to build a relationship with your travel nurse recruiter. Remember, they are your advocate and direct connection to your healthcare facility. They will guide you through your onboarding process and are there to help you land your first and your next assignment. If you have preferences or run into difficulties while on assignment, you will reach out to them. Partner with your HCTN to enable rapid speed to top job offers. Get first in line for the top jobs when you travel with us.
9. DETERMINE YOUR HOUSING
Before getting your contract to sign, your recruiter is going to ask you about housing arrangements. There are typically two options, receive a housing stipend or use the agency provided housing. With agency provided housing, your travel nurse recruiter will ask about your housing preferences and then offer you available housing options. If you’re a first time travel nurse, this may be the better option to save you time.
If you decide to take the housing stipend, you will need to research your own housing. Look for housing that allows short term renters and that is near your healthcare facility. While apartments are a great option, most don’t offer short term leases and aren’t furnished. Instead, look up potential housing on Airbnb, VRBO, or even see what extended stay hotels have to offer.
10. REVIEW YOUR SCHEDULE
Another important tip to make sure you review your travel nurse schedule. Your travel nursing contract will detail your shift, day or night, hour work week details, and weekend and holiday requirements. If you want to earn extra money while on your travel nurse assignment, ask about working a 40 or 48 hour work week.
Sometimes healthcare facilities offer guaranteed overtime or extra shifts. In addition, if you plan on taking any time off or can’t work the holidays, make sure to communicate this to your recruiter. Check out more tips about your travel nurse schedule.
11. RESEARCH THE LOCATION
Travel nurse locations vary depending on where there are staffing shortages. With that being said, many travel nurse locations and assignments are in smaller towns or cities. Make sure to research your potential destination ahead of time for a smooth transition.
This can be as early as before even speaking to a recruiter. You may find that the weekly pay is high, but the destination is less than ideal. Click here if you’re interested in learning more travel nursing tips about selecting the destination that matches your needs. Travel where you want, faster, with us. Get submitted quickly to top travel nurse jobs and be first in line for an interview. Get started with On Demand today.
12. CALCULATE YOUR TAKE HOME PAY
Before signing any contract, calculate your take home pay, whether you’re experienced or a newbie. Depending on the tax free stipends you receive, hour work week, location, hourly rate, and unit, your take home pay will vary. Check out more tips here to increase your take home pay rate.
13. PACK ACCORDINGLY
Before embarking on your assignment, it’s important to pack accordingly. First, research the typical weather during the time of year. Consider bringing weather appropriate items in case the weather has an out-of-season couple of days, such as a light jacket or a raincoat.
Depending on your assignment length, you might also want to bring items that remind you of home, like a pillow or picture, or outdoor living items. Depending on the type of housing you choose, you may also need to pack a few small kitchen items such as a coffee maker or utensils. Here are more travel nursing tips on what to pack.
14. MAKE PLANS
Number 14 on our list is to make plans - before you start your job. Look into and plan activities, attractions, and restaurants around the area that interest you. If you aren’t sure what is popular around the area, many travel nursing agencies have websites where you can explore local attractions.
15. TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT
Another one of our tips is to understand and maximize your travel reimbursement. Many nursing agencies offer travel reimbursement which is intended to cover costs related from traveling to and from your assignment. Depending on where your assignment is, you may be able to drive instead of fly.
If you have to fly to your travel assignment, you will most likely have to rent a car to get around once you're at your location. This can cut into your monthly expenses. Depending on the distance and the time it takes to drive to your new travel nurse assignment, it may be more cost effective to drive.
16. KEEP AN OPEN MIND
Probably one of the most underrated and important travel nursing tips is to keep an open mind. Be open to talking to and meeting new people, especially fellow travel nurses. Talk to other nurses on your unit because you never know when you might need their help or make a new friend. If you’re having a challenging day or few days at work, remind yourself that your assignment only lasts 13 weeks (sometimes less) and then you can change!
Use this list as a starting point when starting your new travel nurse career. Being a nurse is a fun and rewarding career and you have the opportunity to travel the United States while doing it!
Frequently Asked Questions
Next, let’s review some frequently asked questions of new travel nurses.
How do I prepare for travel nursing?
As a first time travel nurse, it’s crucial to do your research. Before starting your job search, start by reading a travel nursing blog or connecting with current travel nurses through social media groups. These will have a lot of valuable information to offer. If you are still uncertain, read the beginners guide to travel nursing or talk to a HCTN recruiter.
How do nurses prepare for first-day travel?
Many prepare for their first day on their travel nursing job by researching. Look up the healthcare facility, location, unit, and travel distance to the hospital. By understanding these factors, it will help settle your nerves. Most nurses before their assignments also know what places they want to visit or things they want to do during their off days. Having this plan will help prepare you for packing and scheduling.
What should I know before traveling nursing?
If you like to explore, travel, meet new people, and love the scheduling flexibility, travel nursing may be for you. For more travel nursing tips about things you should know before beginning a career in travel nursing, click here.
What should I bring to my first travel nursing assignment?
What you bring on your travel nurse assignment is up to you, but pack as lightly as possible. Remember to research the weather ahead of time and bring items that remind you of home. Here are some travel nursing tips on the top 10 items to pack.
Start your travel nursing journey by living and working on your own terms with On Demand. Search and apply for jobs in minutes and manage all your documents in one place. Take control of your career faster when you travel with us. Get started today.
Our entire team is here to provide you with a full circle of support, 365 days a year. We're happy to chat about our travel nurse benefits that support your career and lifestyle or answer any questions you might have!