Starting out as a travel nurse: Let your great adventure begin!

The Wayward Travel Nurse Guide to Taking Your First Assignment in Your Stride

When preparing for your first assignment, don’t be surprised if you have a sudden onset of acute nerves as reality starts to take hold. It’s natural, and you’re off to a new place to work with new people in a demanding situation. Our tips will help you set out with confidence, and your future begins here.

Calm those nerves, it's going to be fine!

Take full advantage of your recruiter’s knowledge and support

At Wayward Medical, our philosophy is to build careers, not just place people in jobs. We endeavor to give you the best possible advice and support for you at whatever stage you are in your travel nurse journey. There is no substitute for getting to know you as an individual and taking time to understand your goals. We will help you build your confidence and develop your plans. We understand that the first assignment is particularly nerve-wracking for first-time travel nurses, and we are right behind you, offering moral support and ready to answer ALL your questions.

Focus on your goals

Your personal goals are critical to a successful travel nursing career. People choose this path for many different reasons, and, as they gain experience, these often change. You might start attracted by the extra money or a desire to spread your wings and see more of the country. As you go on, you might see things differently – more in terms of a career choice with all the benefits of considerable opportunities to develop and expand your clinical experience and skills. Keep us informed, and we will help you find and select assignments that help you get to where you want to go.

Getting your state license and certifications

Your recruiter will, of course, advise you about this. All the states have different regulations for nurses and other fees, and you can also check out our handy interactive guide to the requirements of various US states.

When you are just starting, your choice of location might be influenced by how easy it is to get your state license and fulfill their certification requirements. As you move forward in a career in travel nursing, the conditions will very likely be less of an issue.

Be open-minded

The best and most exciting opportunities occur when you have a few assignments under your belt. Obviously, as an experienced travel nurse, you become more and more attractive to employers as time goes on. The trick at first is to get your first foot on the merry-go-round. It doesn’t mean accepting any old thing but be prepared to be flexible and adopt a “Let me at it!” attitude. Get out there and help out. Do your best. You’ll soon be picking and choosing assignments. Don’t forget that all our employing facilities are well-vetted and known to us. We won’t be sending you into the unknown or a situation unsuitable for an early-career nurse. Just that at first, you’ll need to rely on our advice and guidance as a trusted travel nurse agency and have faith in us to move you forward.

Thirteen weeks fly past!

Travel nursing assignments are typically only 13 weeks long. If you are not enjoying it that much or it’s okay but not your ideal, that isn’t that long when working in a busy facility. One of two things might happen. You might love it and want to stay longer. Check out our article Whatever next? Staying in control of your travel nurse assignments which has lots of information about how that works and when you need to let us know to see if the facility is willing to extend. If you’re finding it tough or just not gelling with the people of the district, well, it IS only 13 weeks; you can cope with that. And you can comfort yourself that every single experience you have as a travel nurse adds not only to your employability but to your capability to look at future choices with a discerning eye.

You can travel lighter than you think!

There’s no need to drag your entire life’s possessions with you when you go. Remember to travel light. Put everything you plan to put in “just-in-case” into a packing box. You can always get it sent on to you. After a few trips, you will soon have figured out if any of those items really would have been worth having immediately at hand. Or if, in fact, a third of what you did put in your suitcase ever got touched. Small self-storage units are easy to find in any town. Just put your stuff in one of those and give the key to a trusted friend, just in case you need something sent to you.

Choose your accommodation wisely

It would be best if you were comfortable and well-rested to be in tip-top shape for your shifts. Don’t skimp, and don’t take risks. Please read up on the easiest and most efficient ways to find your home-from-home in our post Where to stay: we review travel nurse temporary accommodation options. You’ll find a heap of great tips, advice, and resources to help you sort out your pied-a-terre.

Starting your assignment: Roll like a Pro!

Most of us step into the first day of a new job with a mix of terror and excitement. It helps to if you have a clear plan in mind for how you are going to approach this.

Remember your social skills!

You’ve done nursing school and a perm job in a health care facility by the time you hit this moment but as you prepare for taking those first steps through the door and shaking hands with your new colleagues, it’s worth thinking about what you want your first impression to be. It really isn’t unnatural at all to get these things clear in your mind. So – deep breath, you are kitted up in your nice clean uniform and in you go and….

    1. Head up and walk tall. Trust me, they are pleased to see you!
    2. Ask for your contact person confidently and with a smile at the front desk.
    3. When you meet someone, look the other person in the eye, smile, offer your hand for a firm confident handshake and introduce yourself.
    4. Listen attentively.

These might seem like real basics but it’s so easy to forget these little things on a fairly overwhelming occasion so a tiny rehearsed plan can really help your nerves. And it helps their nerves as well if they can see you are a confident operator.

How to crush your first briefing

Be ready to ask questions and do take notes. Most of the time, you will find that your co-ordinator at the facility is well-versed in onboarding new travel nurses and will have thought of most things that you need to know. But don’t be afraid to ask if there is something you are confused about. Every facility is different. They have their own policies, protocols, processes and general ways of doing things. Don’t assume that because your last place did it one way, they will too. You don’t look stupid when you ask questions, you sound interested and on the ball. Never forget that.

Rely on Wayward - we're here to help you

So here’s the deal. Wayward Medical is a small team of expert travel nursing recruitment specialists.  We’ve placed hundreds of new and experienced travel nurses on assignment across the USA. We know this business and we know the highs and lows. Our approach is personal and supportive. You are a real person to us and not just a human resource to be deployed. The best thing you can do at every stage of your journey is to talk to us and keep us in the loop. We’ll teach you how to make a major success of your travel nursing career. We’re here for you!

Arrange a chat with a Wayward recruiter

We’ll help you to create a personal plan for success as a travel nurse, and make sure you know exactly what you can expect from us and when. Arrange a chat with one of our travel nursing experts to discuss your individual situation today: