Strategies for Success as a Travel Nurse
Have you ever considered travel nursing? Maybe some of your friends are travel nurses and the entire concept of seeing different places and having more autonomy sounds appealing. Well, it is appealing for those who are adventurous, for those who have personal flexibility, and for those who enjoy the variety and autonomy; travel nursing can be a great fit. But, it is not for everyone. For those who are considering their first assignment, it is important to know what to expect. Here are some suggestions for success and tips for the initial assignment:
■Be flexible. Remember, travel nursing does not equate with “smooth-sailing” on every assignment. There will be bumps in the road, whether with housing or the facility of employment, and having personal flexibility is a must.
■Communicate with family and friends. Before ultimately deciding if travel nursing is right for you, it is important to discuss your thoughts with your immediate family and friends, as they might be able to offer perspective that you had not previously considered.
■Be grounded. Travel nursing is not really for the novice nurse. The chosen facility demands that you have the clinical foundation necessary for success. Be comfortable in your own skin before accepting an initial assignment, and be comfortable with the chosen setting. For instance, if you have considerable Medical-Surgical experience it might not be advisable to consider a position in Labor and Delivery.
■Maintain communication with your recruiter. Your travel nurse recruiter is almost like your agent and honesty is crucial in the relationship. Being honest and upfront throughout the entire process will enable him/her to find the right assignment for you. In addition, after you arrive at your destination, maintain communication with the travel nurse agency about how the assignment is going - what you like and what you do not like.
■Maintain communication with your unit manager. As it is advisable to communicate with your recruiter, it is equally advisable to communicate with your unit manager. It is also worthwhile to send a “thank you” note to the agency (and your recruiter) and the facility for their support and confidence.
■Do your research. Before accepting a potential assignment, research the facility and the surrounding town beforehand. This will give you insight as to whether or not the fit would be good. It is also a good idea to talk to other travel nurses, some of whom might be familiar with the prospective facility.
■Maintain necessary requirements. Before even considering an assignment, verify that your licensure, certifications (BLS, ACLS, PALS, etc.) are current. Without these credentials, many facilities will not even consider you.
■Save recommendations. When your recruiter presents your profile, having recommendations from other supervisors is very helpful. Therefore, if you have any written recommendations, save them as you continue travel nursing. These make you much more marketable.
■Maintain a prepared curriculum vitae. Along with saving recommendations, maintaining licensure and maintaining certifications, it is important to maintain a prepared resume and/or curriculum vitae.
After weighing these options you might decide that travel nursing is a good fit for you. If so, here are some noteworthy suggestions to help you to get the most out of the assignment:
■Be prepared. Arrive at work a little early so that you can get acquainted with the new environment. Also, bring necessary supplies with you that you might need, i.e., pens, pencils, stethoscope, measuring tape, etc.
■Be a “team-player”. This willingness shows your commitment to your co-workers, to the patients, and to the unit manager. It demonstrates that you are invested in the success of the facility and in patient care. You are not only loyal to your employment agency, but you are also loyal to the facility.
■Stay positive. Remember, if the assignment does not turn out to be “so good,” it will end in a specified number of weeks. Therefore, do your best, fulfill your commitment, and remember that an endpoint is in sight.
■Nourish relationships. It is not only important to maintain contact with your recruiter, but it is also important to keep in touch with co-workers and managers whom you meet on your assignments. It is a positive experience to keep in touch with people you meet along the way, and managers can be very helpful in landing the next potential assignment.
If you are considering travel nursing, remember that every assignment is not going to be perfect. But, it is important to be able to cope with these nuances if you are to remain a travel nurse. Being flexible and being grounded is essential. Hopefully these suggestions will also make you successful in your new career path.