5 Things to Prepare You for Your Travel Nurse Assignment

Congratulations! You’ve been submitted, offered, and accepted your first travel nurse assignment! The hard part is over. Now it’s time to pack your bags and start hitting the road.

But before you head to the airport, here are a few important items to check on before you leave. As with most things, in travel nursing, planning and preparation can make the difference between a good experience and a negative one. So, let’s dig in on some tips to help make sure your first (or next) assignment is everything you want it to be.

1. Paperwork

Ugh. Paperwork. We’ve yet to meet a traveler who likes dealing with the paperwork hand-off. But the last thing you want to happen is for your contract to be postponed or cancelled because of an expired PPD. To avoid this, it’s important to be organized. Make sure your certifications, immunization records, and documentation are all up to date. It’s a pain, but it will make your life SO much easier if you have this part of the process buttoned up. Once you sign the confirmation, send your on-boarding specialist all of your paperwork. You want to make sure everyone is on the same page with what you have and what is remaining. Ask for a comprehensive checklist of all that is required of you to become 100% compliant. When your credentialing paperwork is up-to-date and fully approved, there’s a feeling of extreme relief knowing that your travel plans won’t be hindered during the process, which ultimately makes the travel nursing experience that much more enjoyable.

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2.  Minimalize

Packing in stressful. Whether going on vacation, or moving to a new city, there’s always a thought of, “what am I forgetting?!”  This, inherently, leads to over-packing. It’s happened to all of us. Packing is good, but try your best to not over-pack. The important thing to remember is that as a travel nurse, you’re most likely going to be jumping from one place to another, and that’s the fun part! To make this process smoother, only bring what you need and don’t be afraid to leave a few things back home. Plus, we’re guessing you’ll be shopping and buying some cool, unique items along the way in your new city, which you’ll need room for!

3.  Finances

Although it often goes overlooked, it’s really important to make sure your finances are in check before you leave for your travel assignment. Have you paid all of your bills for the month prior to you leaving? Car payments, cell phone, utilities, etc.? To save time and trouble, it may be a good idea to set up auto-payments for all of your bills that may not get to your new address. You want to start your travel nurse assignment with a clear mind as well as clear finances. That way, you can guarantee a smooth launch to your journey and along the way, not have to stress about your finances.

You may also like: Check out our Traveler of the Month winners!

4.  People

Before you get on that plane, another important thing to do is double-check with the necessary people involved. Does your family/friends have a copy of your itinerary, plus your new housing information? This can also pertain to making sure your place is being looked over while you’re gone. Does your recruiter have all the necessary documents they need from you (see tip #1)? No one wants to dig out a Varicella titer, then find a FedEx to fax it in while you’re on the road. It’s a great idea to double-check everything with your recruiter, and reach out to him/her at least 2 weeks prior to your start date to make extra sure everything is good-to-go, from housing, credentialing, first-day instructions, etc. Once the necessary people involved give you the thumbs-up, you can start your assignment with an extra level of comfort knowing that everything will go smoothly.

5.  Flexibility

Last, but certainly not least, being flexible is almost essential to a positive travel nursing experience. Things come up. On almost every assignment. Stay open-minded to new changes, circumstances, and experiences. The novelty and memorable experience that comes with traveling is the entire point (although the paycheck ain’t bad, either), so don’t sweat the small stuff. Instead, simply embrace the change. Reach out to new people to share your experiences and bring them along with you during the ride. Get to know other travelers on your unit. Find out their story and share yours. The best way to experience the excitement of travel nursing is to share it with other people and maintain a positive attitude along the way.  Here is some great advice from Clairissa, NICU RN, and our Travel Nurse of the Month for December.

“Flexibility is key. Things will probably not always turn out how you want especially with scheduling/and or situations you may be put in. Just remember to go with the flow as much as you can without sacrificing what you stand for or your personal time.”

Travel Nurses are amazing people. To be put into new environments every 13 weeks can be a challenging endeavor, yet also one that is extremely rewarding. By following these tips, you’ll put yourself in a position to have the best experience possible on your travel assignment!

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