11 tips for success in travel nursing

Nurse sharing travel nursing success tips with another nurse

Starting a new job is always a little daunting and, as a travel nurse, you’re starting a new job on a regular basis. However, experienced travel nurses relish the opportunity to work at a new location. For this article, we asked nurses who travel with Foundation Medical Staffing to share their tips for how to be successful in travel nursing. Here’s what they had to say along with a few tips of our own!

1. Talk to your recruiter… a lot

Your recruiter is there to be your advocate, but if he or she doesn’t know what you want, there’s no way they can make it happen. Ashley Cantu says, “The recruiter cannot read your mind so it’s important to voice your concerns openly. The smallest detail may be important, but if it’s not voiced, it may get overlooked.”

2. Choose your assignments based on where you want to go

Across the board, our travel nurses stress the importance of picking a travel nursing location based on your personal priorities. Choose a place to work in a part of the country you’ve always wanted to see, where you have friends or family nearby, or where you can really make difference.

3. Pretend it’s a permanent job

Ellie Laborada advises, “Leave a lasting impression on everyone you come into contact with at that facility as being one of the best travelers.” She said this can impact both your experience there as well as future assignments (word can get around). Best way to leave a good impression: treat your job like one you plan to stay in for years.

smiling nurse and patient

4. Keep detailed notes

Cheri Caraway said her best tip for new travel nurses is to keep a list on your phone of passwords for supply rooms, procedures for calling providers, how to call a code, etc. “This has really saved me a lot of times, especially on assignments where there are multiple hospitals with different procedures and codes for everything,” she says.

5. Show off your skills

You may not have the beat of a specific hospital down, but you got this job because you are great at what you do. For this reason, Ellie Laborada’s tip for new travel nurses is: “Don’t be scared to jump right in! Be confident in your skills and who you are in this profession.” This will help establish a good rapport with your new coworkers.

6. Help them catch their breath

Susan Nash says, “More often than not, the people you’re working with have been overworked and short staffed, that’s why they need travelers.” If you are able, offer to take more shifts — they will be so grateful. Even if that’s not an option for you, Susan Nash’s main recommendation is to “show up with a smile, stay out of the drama, have a good attitude, and help them catch their breath.”

7. Be flexible

“Be ready for the unexpected and be flexible to adapt in any situation and environment,” says Jarvis Ramos. Since travel nurses work in so many different hospitals with different people, you’ll get frustrated and they’ll get annoyed if you are trying to do everything your way. Instead, choose to adapt to the procedures of the staff you’re currently working with.

8. Don’t compare out loud

No program wants to hear how bad you think they are, even if it’s true. Susan Nash reminds nurses: “As a traveler, we are there to serve our patients and our colleagues. We’re not there to change policy or teach them a better way.” After all, that hospital probably does things a certain way for a reason. If they ask your suggestions, feel free to share. If not, keep quiet.

Smiling nurse with folded arms

9. Learn a lot

As a travel nurse, you have the opportunity to see how a variety of people do their jobs. If you’re open to learning, you can accumulate a library of knowledge and really become an expert in your profession.

10. Make friends with your co-workers

Travel nursing is the opportunity to make friends with people all over the country. Plus, everyone knows having friends at work makes work more enjoyable. Invite them to go on a hike with you on a day off or for a cup of coffee after a shift.

11. Smile and enjoy it

Remember, you love what you do. (If not, get out now.)

What do you do to make your travel assignments go smoother? Share your tips in the comments below.

About the author

Melinda Fox

Melinda Fox

Melinda Fox is a writer and content strategist who’s created content for clients like NBC and the United Nations. When she’s not getting caught up on her personal journal writing, Melinda loves listening to podcasts and trying new things. She'd love to hear from you at melindafox.com.

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