I want to start off by saying I’ve been a nurse longer than one year. As of this post, I’ve been a nurse for a total of seven years. I was an LPN for three of those years. During my time as an LPN, I worked on a med-surg floor at a small critical access hospital then went to corrections for my last year as an LPN. After getting my RN, I stayed with corrections PRN and worked in the ER part-time (with some weeks working full-time hours) at that same little critical access hospital. I worked in the ER for right over a year. I worked on a step-down unit for 3 months right after that but didn’t like it. Then I was out of the ER for a little over a year before applying and accepting my first travel assignment in the ER.

The Interview
During the interview, I was completely upfront and honest about my work history, experience, and skill set. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I’d get the job! I know your first travel assignment is the hardest to get so I was surprised when he told me he would put in the offer.

First Day
I was so nervous on my first day. My anxiety kept telling me nobody would like me, that I wouldn’t know how to do anything, and that the hospital would cancel my contract. I do feel those were all valid fears and concerns but my anxiety just heightened them. However, I was wrong! Everyone was super nice and friendly, very helpful, and spoiler, the hospital did NOT cancel me and even offered me an extension twice!

First Two to Three Weeks
For the first two to three weeks, I still felt pretty out of place. I was still learning the charting system, learning where everything was, learning about the hospital, and refreshing some of my ER skills. Luckily, almost every single nurse and tech was extremely helpful and accommodating. They were readily available to answer any questions I had.

Weeks Four to Eight
During this time, I felt pretty confident. Sure, there were scenarios I hadn’t encountered yet and I was still learning a lot. This emergency department was much bigger than the six-bed ER that I came from. I was seeing a lot of new types of patients and levels of acuity compared to what I was used to.

Extension Time!
I inquired about extending later than I had planned to. I was in my 9th week. Luckily, it was not too late and they were excited to keep me on.

Weeks 10-26
By this point in the game, I was very comfortable at this facility. I knew almost every nurse and doctor by name, on day shift and night shift. I knew what to expect from each person. I had minimal questions when it came to facility policies and procedures as well as minimal questions when it came to patient care. I still ran into the occasionally high acuity patient where I needed to ask questions but for the most part, I felt extremely confident in what I knew and what I didn’t know.

Time to Move On
As I mentioned earlier, I was offered a second extension but we decided to decline it and move on to a new area. Andy was getting homesick and it was time to move into our new house so we wanted to be home more.

Final Thoughts
I was very nervous about taking an assignment with minimal experience in my specialty and I know I would not have been able to survive, much less thrive, on that assignment if I had not been a nurse for so long already. So with that being said, I would not recommend a brand new nurse with only a year of experience to take a travel assignment but experienced nurses with just a different specialty would probably be fine!

I know not everywhere is going to be like the facility that I went to on my first assignment and not everyone is going to run into staff that are so friendly and helpful compared to the ones I worked with. However, don’t be afraid to ask questions and if someone cannot help you, ask someone else! You don’t want to make a mistake or harm a patient because you do not know something. Also, don’t forget your providers are great resources as well! A lot of providers that I have worked with have enjoyed answering questions and teaching me things that I did not know. You can also read my new travel nurse tips for more advice!

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