8 Travel Nursing Characteristics for Success

8 Travel Nursing Characteristics for Success

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Various healthcare systems throughout the country are experiencing shortages of qualified nursing personnel and seeking temporary help with travel nursing agencies. Assignment contracts vary in length and wage, but will typically run eight to thirteen weeks. 

The benefits of travel nursing are appealing for many nurses. They offer a little more freedom and autonomy over work shifts, hours, and days while offering the opportunity to visit different locations around the country. Many nurses also experience the added advantage of advancing their nursing careers. 

Everyone needs a toolbox to tap into to improve their chances of a successful assignment. One key point to keep in mind is that it is in our humanity, ability to manage relationships through reflective practices, and capacity to connect with others where we find success. 

Therefore, it is essential to complete an honest self-assessment of your:

  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Communication skills  
  • Willingness to collaborate and work with a team  
  • Ability to make decisions effectively 
  • Mindfulness and social awareness
  • Capacity to  engage in nonjudgmental reflective practices of self and others, and serve as a candid truth teller

The goal is to do your part to support a healthy work environment where everyone feels safe and can do their jobs effectively. Mindful communication practices serve as an excellent starting point as you build your toolbox. To create a cohesive team, remember that everyone needs to feel respected, valued, and essential. 

Characteristics of Successful Travel Nurses

Now that we’ve reviewed the essentials of an honest self-assessment, let’s review some of the key characteristics of a successful nurse. Here are some key insights shared by successful travel nurses.

A Caring Attitude

Probably inarguably the most important characteristic of compassionate nurses is a caring attitude. Nurses who are compassionate about patient care show it through their attitude and commitment to the nursing profession. They enjoy caring for and treating patients and patients' family members during a time of need.

Quick Thinker

Nurses have to be quick thinkers and comfortable and adaptable to change. No two assignments will ever be the same and are often coupled with a fast-paced healthcare system. Many travel nurses find significant differences in an organization's culture, leadership styles, and processes for getting things done. In addition, nurses have strong problem-solving skills and critical-thinking skills. Since a patient’s condition can rapidly change, they need to be able to think through and act quickly during potentially life-threatening situations.

Willingness to Follow

Nurses have to have the willingness to follow at times. Listening and following strict orders can promote positive patient outcomes. However, nurses should always advocate for their patients if they think a standard of care is not being addressed. Also, nurses must be willing to follow the patient’s wishes for medical care at times. If they decide to sign a “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR), then this is the patient’s right that the nurse must follow even if they don’t agree.

In addition, travel nurses must be open-minded and meet people where they are. Some facilities will be more advanced and forward-thinking than others, so you will have to adapt to them and not the other way around.


Most travel nurses are self-starters and apply their skills to nursing practice. Those who are self-starters are often viewed in a favorable light by employers because they get the job done, work through issues with minimal supervision, and work independently. Nurses can also motivate other nurses to work together and achieve better patient outcomes. They often form patient care committees to discuss and promote patient care.

Nurses are also motivators for their patients. For example, if a patient doesn’t want to participate in physical therapy a nurse motivates the patient. They may remind the patient that the outcome is to recover quickly and be discharged home as soon as possible. In addition, through education and providing proper resources, nurses can inspire and empower patients to be their own health advocates. They promote the health and well-being of patients and the communities they serve.

Mentally Stable

Nurses have to be mentally sound and stable. They must put their mental health first and consistently engage in reflective practice. This allows us to think about our experiences, learn from them and develop strategies to approach the situation differently in the future if needed. The goal of reflective practice is to preserve your emotional well-being when confronted with diverse care situations for patients and colleagues. Self-awareness can impact others positively. 

Travel nurses have to cope with new environments, changing hospital protocols, and stress regularly. This can sometimes take a toll on your mental health. However, nurses are resilient and have a compassion for patient care, which often outweighs the mental stress.

The Ability to Capitalize on Strengths

Every nurse has different nursing skills and backgrounds, depending on their unit and prior experience. It’s important to understand and leverage your strengths during each shift at the hospital. A great nurse has exceptional interpersonal skills. These are crucial to understanding how your personality, approach, and personal history contribute to situations. Poor interpersonal relationships stem from poor communication and often give rise to incivility and disruptive behaviors. Many nurses who master interpersonal skills and capitalize on their or other nurses' strengths, tend to move up into leadership positions.


A good nurse should seek the truth in all situations. They prevent making assumptions by seeking the truth and being authentic. Hard or hurt feelings are frequently grounded in misattributions of the intent behind specific actions or behaviors. Ask for clarification before drawing conclusions. If an issue arises, always explain yourself and your intent before the situation.


Many travel nurses have to be humble as they are in a new environment, meeting new coworkers, and caring for diverse patient populations. While nurses tend to put others before themselves, it’s still important to take care of yourself. Valuing yourself is not an act of selfishness. It sets an example for others for healthy self-care practices.

A Desire to Keep Learning

Most nurses have a passion for continuing education. This can be through pursuing a higher degree through a nursing program or continuing nursing education courses. Nurses love to promote health and patient safety and improve patient outcomes through patient education.


Believe it or not, one of the qualities of a good nurse is creativity. They have to accept new ideas and be open to change. Many professional nurses are innovators in the field by creating unique solutions to problems. Remember Florence Nightingale? She was the nurse who created cleaner hospital environments by implementing handwashing and other hygiene practices.


Many nurses who join the nursing field and healthcare industry are hard workers. It’s hard work just to graduate from nursing school. Many people could not do a nurse’s job, as it takes hard work and dedication. Nurses work long hours and put their patient’s needs above their own on a daily basis.

Time management

Experienced nurses are masters of time management. They have hundreds of tasks to complete during their shifts and have to reprioritize constantly. If a patient’s condition changes suddenly and a nurse doesn’t have good time management skills, then they are going to have a hard time completing the required work.


Now that we’ve reviewed the key characteristics of successful nurses, let’s fill your nursing skills toolbox. Try to fill your toolbox with the following characteristics: 

  • Strong, confident, and professional behaviors
  • Flexibility, trustworthiness, and reliability 
  • Knowledge of your boundaries or limitations
  • Skilled communication 
  • Effective team player behaviors
  • Recognition that everyone is your customer
  • Research on the organization you will be working for 
  • Accessible personal supplies—especially the technology you use to remain up-to-date
  • Avoiding openly comparing the current hospital with past contracts, administrations, doctors, or leadership.
  • An openness to learn new things
  • Time management

To prepare your travel assignment toolbox, one key point to keep in mind is that it is in our humanity and ability to manage relationships through self-awareness, reflective practices, skilled communication, and the ability to connect with others that we find success. 

Interpersonal relationships are the necessary mechanism to becoming our most productive, healthiest, and happiest self. However, we must remember that relationships take work and an ongoing willingness to invest our time and energy. Universally, nursing can be difficult, taxing, and stressful. That’s why we need to band together in support of each other. If you're interested in learning more, reach out to our recruiters today and we can help optimize your travel nurse toolbox.

Author Bio

Dr. Leary-Schmitt has over thirty years of nursing experience and now focuses on giving voice to nurses to promote, cultivate, and sustain healthier work environments and improve the quality of life for nurses and their patients.


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

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Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

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Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.


Land your dream job faster when you travel with us. Get started with top local and national travel nurse jobs in On Demand.

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