Getting ready for your first assignment as a travel nurse? Congratulations! It’s an exciting time in your career and travel nursing will open up so many doors for you.
If you’re already packed, have your housing situation settled, and have figured out the essential details of your contract, you’re ready to go. But taking on your first assignment can feel daunting, no matter how prepared you are. Whether you took a job near home, or on the other side of the country, there is plenty of uncertainty with any new job assignment.
Here’s one important thing you should keep in mind: no matter the circumstances, you’re working in a field that offers job security and adventure at the same time. You can’t beat it.
As you set out on your first assignment, here are our top five tips for making a smooth transition to travel nursing and enjoying the process along the way.
Stick With Your Routines
Even though you’ll be in a totally new environment, try to implement some of your habits and routines from your life back home. This can be as simple as following the same morning routine — perhaps you exercise, shower, drink coffee and read each day — before work, or even planning out your weeks the same way.
Routines can offer structure when it feels like everything else is up in the air. Try to settle into a consistent schedule that feels familiar.
Here are some routines you can implement no matter where you go:
- Grocery shopping on the same day each week
- Cooking meals at consistent times
- Exercising 3-5 times per week
- Calling loved ones once a week
- Scheduling at-home movie nights
- Taking a day to explore your new city
Though your work schedule may vary throughout the duration of your contract, you can adjust your routines so that you have a sense of normalcy throughout the day.
Map Out Your First Day
It’s likely that you aren’t super familiar with your new city, so make sure to plan ahead for your first day by mapping out how you will get to work. If you are driving, make sure you take parking into consideration.
See if you can find a map of the hospital or facility so you know where to go. If you can, get contact information for staff and managers from your agency so that you can reach out before you arrive and gather any necessary information about accessing the facilities.
Doing all of this ahead of time will help you feel less stressed on your first day of work, and give you more energy to devote to learning the new standard practices for this assignment.
On the subject of learning, our next point is critical.
Know That Work Culture Is Different Everywhere
While nurses are needed around the world, and many practices and procedures are standard, each workplace will vary. This is one of the challenges of being a travel nurse. You have to learn to adapt to each work culture, and also be able to think on your feet.
You might hit some learning curves when you first start out, and that’s normal. Expect to be corrected by managers or other nurses if a particular procedure is different on this assignment than your previous ones. It’s essential that you take all of these adjustments in stride because this is a huge component of travel nursing.
Work culture will also be different wherever you go. Scheduling could look different, and even the social aspects of work could contrast those at your previous assignments.
Leave Room for Fun
Remember that any sort of life change is difficult, even if it’s a temporary change like a multiple-week travel nursing assignment. With this in mind, make allowances in your week for fun activities. This could be exploring your new city or getting together with other travel nurses on assignment at the same facility.
In some ways, your life as a travel nurse may feel like it revolves around your workday. It doesn’t have to. Each assignment should offer you plenty of new things to explore or experience, and this is essential for staying balanced.
While your first travel nursing assignment might feel daunting, make sure you don’t forget to take care of the other aspects of your life.
Remember: You Can Do Anything for Just A Few Weeks
If all else fails, remember that every travel nursing assignment is temporary. You can muscle through anything for however many weeks your contract may be. If you don’t like your location, the work culture, or the type of role you’re playing, don’t write off travel nursing as a whole. Each experience is different, and every new assignment will offer you something new to learn.
Maintaining a routine, making allowances for fun, preparing for work ahead of time, and setting reasonable expectations can help make any travel nursing assignment a positive experience.
If you are about to set off on your first travel nursing assignment, we wish you well. This career offers a wealth of opportunities and experiences that are hard to beat. If you’re still in the process of packing, head over to this blog for our best tips.