Working as a traveler is not for the faint of heart. You’ve got to be ready to hit the ground running on your first day as a travel nurse. In the span of a year, you may have several first days as you may be changing where you work every 13-weeks, though you may have the opportunity to extend a travel contract. We offer tips for making the most of your new experience.
- Arrive well-rested. Plan to arrive at your new home early so you can get settled, including getting a good night of sleep. You will be better prepared for your shift. Stretch your body, take a walk or run through your new neighborhood, and eat a healthy meal so you are in top form.
- Be on-time. Our travelers recommend doing a dry-run commute prior to your first shift so you know exactly where you are going. Whether you do that or leave with plenty of time to allow for traffic and getting lost (because it happens to the best of us!), be sure you are on time. Not only is it a reflection on you as a professional, but it is also a reflection on us too.
- Bring vital paperwork with you. While you may have submitted paperwork digitally, the facility may need additional documentation from you like licenses and certifications, and driver’s license. Keep it all with you, at least on your first day as a travel nurse so that you’re ready to go with whatever is needed.
- Don’t talk about your pay. You’re a professional. There’s no need to talk about how much you’re getting paid or asking co-workers how much they get paid. That’s private and should be confidential between you, your agency, and your on-site manager. Instead, talk about your experience as a travel nurse. Who knows, they may be interested in becoming a traveler and you could potentially earn a referral fee!
- Be positive. No one wants to work with someone solely focused on pointing out the bad in their work or personal life. Will there be challenges? YES, but we recommend talking to your manager and AB Staffing Recruiter instead of gossiping at the water cooler.
- Avoid comparing facilities. No one wants to hear, “At my last job, we did this…” You’ve been hired to fill a gap in their staff, not to rework their policies and procedures. It’s important to keep this in mind and focus on patient care rather than changing the system. You may only be there for 13-weeks and canceling a contract is frowned upon in the industry. Make the most of where you are today and leave the rest behind.
- Find friends and network. Rather than comparing where you’ve worked prior or pointing out the negative issues, focus on your own skill development, network with other travelers or staff nurses, and make friends. Host a get-together. Invite a co-worker to go hiking or accept an invitation from the staff to join them at an event. You never know where the experience could lead and at the very least, you will make friends across the country!
- Communicate with your Recruiter. We say this often because it is important. Your recruiter is your connection to AB Staffing and your next opportunity, as well as your point person on your current contract. If you have a good relationship with your site manager, we encourage you to speak to them also. Be constructive by providing solutions or suggestions rather than simply a list of complaints. It helps our team learn and communicate with our travelers and can help you advance your career as a travel nurse.
- Bring food. Okay, maybe save this for a few days into your contract so that you can understand the team and culture, but food is always a good way to connect with people. If you’re working at night, this is a great opportunity as the cafeteria may be closed for the entire shift, leaving nurses to find snacks on their own. A batch of cookies can help you make friends fast!
- Be open to learning. Every facility has different policies and procedures and a culture of its own. Be open to listening and learning not only about the hospital protocols but to how nurses interact with patients based on patient needs and expectations. Whether you’ve been a travel nurse for many years or are just getting started, there is always something to learn.
Overall, we want you to enjoy your experience of living in a new place. We hope these tips help you understand what is expected as well as what is possible on your first day as a travel nurse.