Life as a travel nurse can be rewarding and exciting. It offers you many opportunities to explore new cities and states, as well as meet new people. However, travel nursing is not for everyone–there are pros and cons to this profession just as with everything else. Being a travel nurse is definitely a lifestyle choice and it has to be one that you love.
Travel nursing may be the career path for you, but there are some things that can derail a travel nursing career. Avoid these six mistakes to be successful on the road to your next destination and once you arrive at your next assignment.
Being Late to Turn In Your Paperwork
In the world of travel nursing, deadlines matter. Nurse recruiters say that being tardy with paperwork is the biggest obstacle to a successful travel nurse assignment. When you accept an assignment, you should immediately start working on the paperwork. Not turning in your paperwork on time can change the date your assignment begins. Sometimes your start date can be delayed by a couple of weeks because you missed a signature on an important document.
Hospitals are also changing the requirements for paperwork, and it can be frustrating when they add something at the last minute that needs to be completed. This will be much easier for you to handle if you are working on your paperwork ahead of time, rather than waiting until the last minute. It is a good habit to finish your paperwork as quickly as possible. To find success in the travel nursing world, make the completion of this task a priority.
Keeping all your travel nurse must-have documents in one easy-to-access folder on your computer will make this process much smoother for you. Have a copy of this folder on your phone as well. This makes it much easier to add the documents needed as you are filling out your paperwork, giving you no reason to be late in returning it.
Not Planning for Future Assignments
Once you have taken an assignment and have started working, it is easy to settle into a new routine. The days turn to weeks, and before you know it, it’s time to look for the next assignment already.
As a travel nurse, it is important to always think ahead. Communicate frequently with your recruiter or staffing agency. Early in your 13-week assignment, consider whether you would like to extend your contract where you are or if you think you will be ready to move on at the end of the assignment. Thinking about your next assignment early helps ensure you have continuous employment and aren’t scrambling for the next contract.
Considering how far to travel between assignments is something to think about as well. Seasonal needs can also make a difference. Maybe you want to avoid cooler weather and need to take an assignment in the south as the weather begins to cool down. It is best to start planning early for things like that.
Traveling across the country for assignments can also create obstacles. There is a lot of planning for a cross-country move or a long road trip. If you want to travel long distances for assignments, consider some options in states between two locations. This can make traveling, and moving, much easier on you in the long run.
Talk to your staffing agency early and often about your goals. It is their job to make sure you never miss a paycheck or benefits as you are traveling. To do that, there has to be some planning for future assignments at all times.
Being flexible and open to new experiences is a must-have quality for travel nurses. Things change a lot in the world of travel nursing, and you must be prepared to handle whatever happens.
To be a successful travel nurse, you will have to be flexible about both the assignments you take and new or different ways of practicing nursing. Hospitals often have different policies and procedures in place for various reasons. Being able to adapt to those changes is crucial in your role as a travel nurse as you will likely be learning new policies and procedures quite often. Remember that hospitals usually have a good reason for maintaining certain policies and procedures. It is not your job to question or advise them on their policies.
Some recruiters or staffing agencies even encourage flexibility when it comes to pay. Know what your bottom line is. Everyone wants to make as much money as possible. Be honest with your recruiter, and yourself, about what you can earn and what you would like to earn from an assignment. Your recruiter will do their best to get you what you want each time. But there may be instances when you might need to take an assignment that is less than your ideal compensation.
Burning Bridges on Assignment
While on a short-term assignment, it is easy to adopt a temporary mindset. This can be problematic for a travel nurse. If a conflict arises, that temporary mindset can lead to burning bridges, excessive complaining, and attempts to change the system.
Try to avoid falling into one of these negative cycles while working as a travel nurse. Your assignment is temporary, but you don’t want to treat it as such. A high level of professionalism and treating every assignment as if you will be there for the long haul is a much better approach to travel nursing.
Getting stuck in one of these negative patterns of thinking can derail your travel nursing career fast. Do the best you can to build positive relationships and maintain them once you leave the assignment. Try not to burn bridges with hospitals, other nurses, or even your recruiter. If problems need to be addressed, handling the conversation professionally is best for everyone involved.
Getting Involved in Hospital Drama
It is easy to involve yourself in hospital drama as a quick and easy way to make personal connections and get to know people at your new place of employment. However, you should use caution in this situation. Getting involved in the hospital drama can have a significant impact on your travel nursing career, since you may become involved in hospital issues that are not yours to solve, or just creating tension in the workplace.
It is better to build relationships based on trust and mutual respect. Avoid the drama and keep yourself out of the gossip loop. You will be recognized as more professional and nurse managers will find you easier to work with. This leads to more success for you, as well as more opportunities to work in places you enjoy.
Acting Like You Are a Temporary Employee
You are a temporary employee of the hospital, but you are also a professional in the nursing world. Acting like just a temporary employee will harm your career in travel nursing quickly.
Try to think of each place as a step in your career and do the best you possibly can at each and every assignment. Having the mindset that this is temporary will not inspire you to do the best you can and to make the most of the opportunity.
Use each new assignment to learn and grow as a nurse and in your career, as well as to leave a lasting impression on the people you work with. The best way to do this is to treat every new contract like a position you want to stay in for years.
Each and every travel nursing assignment is different and being able to adapt to this will help you be successful. Avoiding these six mistakes will also help you land travel nursing assignments and put you on the road to success in this career path.
Our recruiters at OneStaff Medical are here to help if you’re looking for the next travel nursing assignment that’s right for you. Contact us today at 877-783-1483 to learn more!