Here are my tips for new travel nurses starting on their first assignment. You can read about my experience during my first travel assignment here.
Create a budget! Know how much you regularly spend on a weekly and/or monthly basis. I personally like budgeting by pay period and then also by the month. Sure it’s probably overkill, but it helps me stay on top of my finances better than just one or the other alone.
- Have some money in savings
I would definitely recommend having some money set aside to get you to your destination, housing for the week (at least), food, and gas/transportation. Yes, your agency may reimburse you but you’ll be going at least a week (usually close to two) without that first paycheck, depending on when you head to your destination. The exact number you’ll need depends on where you’re going, how you’re getting there, if it’ll just be you or if you have a family, and several other factors. After you complete a budget, you should have a better idea of how much you’ll need before making the jump.
- Be confident but don’t be afraid to ask questions when you don’t know something!
Nurses who think they know everything are dangerous. With that being said, if you know something, be confident! However, don’t be afraid to say you don’t know and to ask questions! Ask the staff nurses or other travel nurses at the facility. If someone cannot or will not help you, ask someone else! Don’t forget about using the providers as resources as well! I have worked with plenty of providers who have enjoyed answering questions and taking that opportunity to teach me things I did not know! You don’t want to make a mistake or harm a patient because you’re afraid to ask questions.
- Go in and do your job
You’ll quickly hear about the unit drama but don’t fall into it. Just go to work, do your job, and go home. I’m not saying don’t make friends, just don’t fall into the drama and bad mouth the staff nurses.
- Take advantage of your 1-2 day orientation.
Ask as many questions as you can and take notes. Have the nurse show you where all the supply rooms are, crash carts, portable oxygen tanks, and anything else you would need in a hurry. Make a note and memorize the phone numbers you’d need to dial quickly, like security or respiratory.
- Enjoy this experience!
Make sure you enjoy this experience. Take in the whole experience of being in a new city at a new hospital and working with new people. Get to know your coworkers. Get to know the area you’ll be living in for the next 13 weeks (or longer if you decide to extend)! Soak everything up and enjoy this time in your life.