TRAVELING NURSES FACE unique challenges. Everything on an assignment is new except for the job itself. A traveler must be able to thrive amidst new surroundings, people, and housing. All the unfamiliarity can be quite overwhelming or quite liberating.
Get a new attitude
Attitude is the key to handling any situation, especially when you travel. A new place lets you make a fresh start every few months. You're not held down by previous perceptions of others. Meeting new people also provides an opportunity to experience some different perspectives.
You can keep in touch with other travelers or nurses you really like, and often they'll want to visit you on your next assignment to see new places. Also, travelers often join together like a family at each assignment. They're all in the same situation and like to get together and explore the town.
Ready to go
A traveler with a positive attitude can do great things as long as she's prepared. For example, arrive a day or two early and scope out the territory. It pays to find the hospital and practice driving to it from your new apartment so you know how long it will take you to get to work. Then, tour the hospital and find out where your unit is located. Knowing the basics of your new environment will help you feel calmer on your first day of work.
Your experience on that first day can set the tone for the rest of the assignment. Get plenty of rest the night before and bring the right equipment. Some places will put you to work the very first day and others will provide a little more orientation. Be prepared for anything right from the start.
Bring along at least two pens, a small notepad to take notes, a copy of your nursing license, your driver's license, any certifications, and a small coin purse. Carry these items in a pouch or in your scrub jacket pocket. The facility may not have a locker for you right away. This way, you're self-contained and ready to go.
Be a team player
A good team player will thrive in a new work environment. Travel nurses who contribute as much as possible—instead of focusing on what they can get out of a situation—are the ones often asked to extend their assignments.
Make an extra effort to be aware of what's going on with others around you. Be on time, be reliable, and communicate clearly and professionally. If a coworker needs you to work an extra shift, be considerate and fill in for him or her if you can.
At the end of each assignment, ask for written references from the colleagues and managers you connected with most. This will create a good footing for your next assignment. As you pursue your career as a traveling nurse, following these simple tips can help you survive and thrive in each new assignment.