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Travel Nursing 101 - First Assignment

Posted Oct 03 2008 11:32am
So you've made a decision to take the plunge and accept your very first travel nursing job?

Congratulations!

Maybe you're suddenly in an empty nest - with children grown and gone. Or maybe you're just looking for an adventure. In any case, Travel nursing can be exciting and rewarding, both personally and financially.

That said, if you want to get the most out of the experience, you may want to look inward before you head out.

It Will Be Different

No matter what your current work conditions, you need to understand and accept that travel nursing will be different than your current job.

Difference #1: It's in a different place (duh!).

This may appear painfully obvious. However, one of the challenges a first time traveler faces is being homesick. It will pass quickly (usually within the first 2 weeks - we hear) but you need to be prepared for it.

Some other challenges of being in a different place are (duh-again) not knowing where anything is! Many people thrive on new environments and the excitement of venturing out. Others - not so much.

The internet is a great tool to prepare yourself before you leave. You can search for churches, grocery stores, hair salons, video stores and all manner of personal needs on the internet before you head to your assignment. This will help you feel settled before you are settled. Your recruiter can also be your ally. Our recruiters will help you in any way they can so that you can enjoy your assignment and be successful. Let us know how we can help.

Difference #2: They do things differently than I'm used to

Before you travel, it is essential to know who you are and how you will adapt (or not adapt) when faced with change.

Some time ago, we had a nurse who was quite challenged at her first travel nurse assignment. She had been a nurse for more than 10 years at the same hospital and she had much trouble adapting her practice to a new environment.

In her old job (her specialty is M/S - with Tele) she was used to luxuries like IV Team - hospital dispatched code team - 24 hour pharmacy that mixed and calculated all drips by order. When she got to her new assignment, they did not have these amenities. Further, she was uncomfortable with what the hospital permitted their technicians to do. She never fully clarified that concern, but our understanding was that it was "just different" than what she was used to.

Such problems or potential problems can be averted by asking the right questions when you speak to the nurse manager before accepting any assignment. Many first time travelers are reluctant to seek much information for fear of not getting the assignment. In our experience, any good nurse manager will appreciate thoughtful questions which will prep the nurse for a successful assignment.

We have developed a great list of potential questions you may wish to consider asking in your interview. The list is an excellent tool to at least get you thinking about the potential differences you might encounter. Having the right attitude toward change or potential change will greatly increase your chances of success at your first travel assignment. Being informed will help foster that right attitude. Be sure to ask your recruiter about our interview preparation before you talk to the nurse manager at your potential assignment.

Difference #3: Everything Else

Simply put - when you take a travel nurse assignment - almost everything is different. That said, travel nursing can be the most rewarding experience of your professional career (if you're mentally prepared)!

My nursing school taught a "values clarification" module that preached introspection - knowing who you are. That concept is valuable in life and in nursing.

It is hard to know how you will respond to all situations before they present themselves. But it is absolutely essential to know who you are before you venture out. Travel nursingrequires open mindedness and forward thinking.

A friend of mine says, "the only thing constant is change". Embracing that paradox can make you successful in life and in your first travel nursing assignment.

Enjoy the trip!

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