Finally, after spending the past couple of years studying hard and earning your credentials, signing up with a travel nurse agency and finalizing your first contract, you can finally start on your path as a travel nurse! That’s a huge stepping stone and worth a celebration!
I know you might feel nervous or overwhelmed right now. Just remember you finally achieved your goals to become a travel nurse and should now start packing your things to head off to your first assignment. For this topic, we’ll be giving you an idea of what a typical life a travel nurse tends to experience as they go off to their assignments.
Move In Day
Once you’ve arrived at the location you’ve chosen to start your new assignment, its time to start unpacking your things. Since you’ll be here for quite a while. A good tip would be to make sure to set up some picture frames of your family and getting acquainted with your current room.
Since this area will most likely be new for a nurse, it’s a good idea to go out and adventure around the place. Driving to the hospital is to scope out the parking areas and generally making sure you can find it is something every nurse does and wasting time navigating through a GPS system can lead to some serious trouble, especially if that area you’re in is known for having heavy traffic.
After all, it would be embarrassing to miss out from work on the very first day at this new medical facility, definitely looks bad on your record. Check out anything else you may need to know such as local groceries or restaurants that you can hit up between lunch or even after work.
Afterward, getting a goods night’s rest is the next step every nurse takes. It’ll help absorb all the new information for tomorrow, so it’s imperative for a nurse to be a the top of their game. Getting to bed early than normal is advisable just to ensure you are fully rested.
Waking up, washing up and getting breakfast are the usual steps for any nurse out there. Shifts will be long, so getting a good amount of food for energy and some caffeine in your system should become a must. Although, don’t over do it with the coffee unless you want to have trouble later in the day.
Arriving early is typical for most travel nurses, especially if you bothered to check out the hospital the day before you begin. This will show your fellow colleagues that your going to be dependable and allows you a bit more time to get your things and self in order. Once you arrive you’ll want to find the nurse the charge nurse, unit manager, or whoever your recruiter gave you as the contact. They will be the ones to give you the orientation on what’s going to be done while you here for the next couple of weeks.
Before you can begin the day at your new hospital, your recruiter will give you First Day instructions. Reading and understanding this info well beforehand will easy you first-day anxiety.
The information handed is usually where to park, hospital orientation dates and times, what building on and what day, and what to wear, which will typically be scrubs. Every hospital has its own dress code.
First-day orientation does vary from each medical facility, Some will require travel nurses to go through the entire general nursing hospital orientation where the onboarding process is very similar to new grads or new full-time employees and can last an entire week. Other hospitals will simply require some online modules, a few hours with HR for paperwork, and then maybe some computer training or skills lab.
Once the hospital orientation has been mostly completed, a travel nurse will normally get 2-3 days worth of orientation on the unit with a preceptor. This is one of the most crucial parts, as you’ll be learning where stuff is in the supply room and all the codes to the doors and how they do nursing care as well.
The New Guy
Starting in a new unit each time you travel to another location can be quite difficult. You won’t know anyone, how the units are typically run, which person is going to share your kind of humor and so on. If your social skills weren’t the best before, you’ll definitely be sharpening them as a travel nurse.
The best thing to have is come in with a positive attitude, show that you’re willing to work hard and help out your new employees, leading them to welcome you with open arms. People are normally curious and wish to learn about where you’re from, where you’ve worked before, and why you decide to become a travel nurse.
It’s quite easy to strike up a conversation and have the ball rolling. Also, you’ll usually be running around asking all sorts of questions during your first shifts on your own. Doing this will help you remember the names and faces of everyone you’ll be working with, leaving you feeling excited that you’ve become a part of the team.
Although, at times you’ll get the feeling of simply being hired help. A lot of units you’ll be going to have fellow nurses who are dead tired and overworked. Even so, they’ll still know that your a pretty good person and appreciate the help, even if they don’t always show it.
Most assignments are typically only three months in duration, so depending if you decide to take consecutive assignments, you’ll be going through orientation at least 4 times a year. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll feel with the process. You’ll get used to it!
Schedules are normally similar to that of a permanent nurse schedule as well. Meaning you’ll have the usual 3-4 days of 12-hour shifts, depending on the need. Some shifts run for 8 hours depending on the hospital. Schedules are more advantageous for traveling nurses as they can choose which assignment they’ll want to take based on the type of schedule. That doesn’t mean that some changes won’t occur periodically or you may have to take up an extra shift or two every once in a while.
Other major differences in the day of a permanent nurse and traveler are that the travel nurse will get to enjoy a whole new city and scenery. For three months this new place will become a great place to tour as typically you may not have been able to travel before.
Even so, three months will pass by quite quickly as you toil away in the medical facility. During the beginning of the assignment, the end may seem to be quite far. Although, once you’ve completed your orientation and after that, it’s your final shift on the unit. Leading to you talking to your travel agency and once again moving to a different location in need of a travel nurse.
It’s all a day in the life of a nurse a travel nurse. Hope this helps all the nurses out there that will be picking up their first assignment soon.
If you’re considering being a travel nurse, you can check out our job listings directly on NurseFly.com
Our goal is to help individuals like yourself that are looking to break into travel nursing!