A career in travel nursing offers several key differences from a traditional nursing position. For many nurses, it is a uniquely exciting career, offering experiences and new settings they would not experience otherwise.
For some nurses, travel nursing offers the right combination of excitement and job flexibility.
If you’re interested in a travel nursing career, read up on personal accounts by experienced travel nurses, and take the time to select the right travel nursing agency. Here are seven other helpful pieces of advice for new travel nurses.
1. Organize All Essential Documentation
The ability to plan ahead is essential to a successful travel nursing career. Make sure you have the following on hand for when you sign with a travel nursing agency:
- Current nursing license and specialty certifications
- Immunization records
- List of references with contact information
- Professional resume highlighting your skills and strengths
Having these important pieces of information ready makes it easier to prepare for phone interviews with potential employers, because you can focus more on questions you want to ask and on understanding policies and schedules.
2. Keep an Open Mind and Remain Flexible
In addition to excellent planning ability, you must also have a certain amount of flexibility. Ultimately, a travel nursing career can allow you to tailor your career to your desire to travel, or to your family’s needs, but especially at first, you must be prepared to be flexible and accept assignments with an open mind.
3. Learn How to Pack Strategically for Assignments
Don’t expect to pack perfectly the first time. Strive to pack light, yet know what your “essentials” are, whether that’s family photos, a personal journal, or a special throw or bed pillow. Travel nursing agencies will inform you about what is available in any housing they provide. Over time you will learn what really is necessary and what you can leave at home.
4. Understand Pay Rates and Other Benefits Before Accepting an Assignment
An outstanding travel nursing agency welcomes questions, so don’t be shy inquiring about benefits, base salary, canceled shift policies, shift differentials, and other pertinent information. Determine whether benefits like health insurance are offered, and if so, what percentage of the premiums you’ll be responsible for.
The right travel nursing agency is happy to answer your questions.
5. Allow Yourself Plenty of Time to Prepare for Your First Shift
Generally, it’s better to show up more than one day before your start date. If you can allow a few days to settle in, rent a car (if necessary), learn your commute time, and stock up on food and household items, your first day on the job will be far less stressful. Knowing your neighborhood, including things like where the local supermarket is, can also minimize stress.
6. Realize that Getting Accustomed to Travel Nursing Takes Time
Travel nursing isn’t for every nurse, and those who are well-suited for this path may not realize it at first. Once you learn to pack well, save receipts, and take care of the details, you’ll be able to evaluate travel nursing as a career choice and determine if it is right for you. Many nurses choose travel nursing and can’t imagine doing it any other way.
7. Choose the Right Travel Nursing Agency
The importance of choosing an outstanding travel nursing agency cannot be overemphasized. Your agency should be large enough to offer you the opportunities you want, yet small enough to provide the attention you need, answer your questions, and generally have your back as you take on travel nursing assignments. The right travel nursing agency is ready to listen to you, answer your questions, and help you build a career that lets you shine and that provides the challenges and rewards you want.
Travel nursing offers many amazing opportunities. Not only can nurses pursue travel to places they may never have had the chance to go, travel nurses with families can schedule their assignments to mesh with school schedules, or a spouse’s schedule, offering flexibility and earning power. If you are interested in travel nursing, Travel Nursing Central invites you to fill out our sign-up form. It’s an important first step towards what could be an outstanding nursing career for you.