ADVICE FROM THE VETS: 5 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOUR FIRST ASSIGNMENT
When it comes to travel nursing, you always remember your first time. In some cases, it’s not for the most positive of reasons. Yes, we’ve all had our little whoopsies, aches and headaches out there in the field. But the travel nursing community is a close community, and with new nurses entering the field every year, we asked our veteran nurses to share some insight into what you can do to make your first travel assignment memorable for all the right reasons.
* Read and reread your final contract. Every travel assignment includes a contract, so when you receive yours, go over it thoroughly and make sure you understand everything. Travel nursing can be like a sport — in more ways than one — and the best way to win is to understand all the rules.
* Have everything you need for your first day in your carry-on. Let’s face it, accidents happen. Any veteran travel nurse will tell you that sometimes those accidents include the airline losing your luggage. You want to hit the ground running on any travel assignment — especially your first — so pack what you need in your carry-on.
* Be flexible. You’ll have to be. Health care by its very nature is a constantly changing business, and when you’re traveling, those changes can seem even more extreme. From your new travel assignment to your time away from work, be adaptable to whatever changes life throws at you. Your travel experience will be more personally and professionally rewarding.
* Set aside an emergency fund. Sometimes things happen — and no, we’re not still talking about your missing luggage. The truth is you’ll be stationed at your given assignment for a solid chunk of time, commonly 13 weeks. In that time, things happen. That’s why it’s good to have a rainy-day fund set aside for when things happen that will cost you money. (Hint: That’s the most common type, so plan ahead.)
* Learn from the vets. The tips above provided by our veteran nurses are just a sampling of their wealth of experience, so be sure to network with your fellow travelers. You’ll learn insights you can take to your next assignment and, in time, be able to share more than a few of your own as well.