As you begin to think about starting your first contract as a travel nurse, you are faced with a lot of unknowns: “How do I even get started? Where am I going to live while on my assignment? How am I going to make friends in my new town? How do I adjust to my new shift? What’s included in my contract?” We’re here to help answer some of these initial questions and quell some of the anxieties associated with starting your travel nursing career. We’ve rounded up some of the best travel nursing advice out there and are here to share all the nuggets of wisdom with you.
Find a recruiter you really vibe with
Before you make the leap into travel nursing, the first step is finding a recruiter. But don’t settle for just any recruiter. Jackie S., an LTC RN with Premier, gives this travel nursing advice: “Find the best recruiter, build a relationship, and trust each other.” You should feel 100% comfortable sharing your goals, concerns, and preferences with your recruiter. A recruiter is there to support you in finding your perfect travel nursing assignment, and forming a strong relationship with them is key to getting exactly what you’re looking for in a contract.
Read the fine print
A super important piece of travel nursing advice given by Darby F., RN, is to always read the fine print of your contract: “I have always told nursing students, ‘If you didn’t chart it, you didn’t do it.’ The same principle applies to your contract.” If something isn’t written in the contract, do not expect it to be implied. Be sure the contract lists your hourly or weekly rate, any housing stipends, the length of the contract, and has a clear outline of your role and responsibilities. The contract should also include: the start and end date of the assignment, the shift you will work, number of shifts per week, contracted hours for each shift, overtime rate, and limits, pay frequency, benefits, and stipends. Make sure everything written in your contract meets your expectations, and you’ll be good to go.
Arrive early on the first day of your new assignment
Another great bit of travel nursing advice is to arrive 15-30 minutes early on your first day. There is no feeling worse than feeling rushed, especially when it is your first day as a first-time travel nurse. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive at work and get the lay of the land. You only get one time to make a first impression and arriving early will demonstrate to your coworkers and nurse manager that you’re prepared and reliable.
Flexibility is a virtue in travel nursing. Kristy, a NICU RN, describes: “I’m a very A-type person, I’ve always needed things planned out to feel comfortable. When traveling, all of that goes out the window. There are so many unknowns. The first few assignments, you’re scared. But then you get through it, and you gain confidence in your ability to adapt. After that, you’ll know that you can get through any obstacles thrown at you.”
Get to know your fellow travelers
Many nurses worry about being lonely on the road. After all, it’s a big step to leave your friends and family at home and head out on your first travel nursing contract by yourself. But you can relax knowing you won’t be the only traveler at your facility or in your area. There will be plenty of other people in the same situation who have the same excitement and fears about their assignment and are anxious to make new friends. Not sure where to start? Ask your recruiter for leads on other travelers in the area or check out our blog post full of travel nursing advice on how to avoid loneliness while on a contract.
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