This article was provided by TNAA Healthcare.
You feel like you were called to work in healthcare, but maybe you need a change of scenery to combat pandemic fatigue. Or, maybe traveling is something you always wanted to do, and the pay makes travel nursing even more enticing. For those eager to travel, here is what you should know and what you can do during your time as a staff nurse to have the best start when you become a traveler.
Travel nurses are there to fill an immediate need, so hospitals count on them to be qualified, confident, and flexible – especially when facing the intensity of the pandemic. Travel nurses are expected to hit the hospital floor with their heads held high. They don’t need to be walked through weeks of orientation. Instead, they’ll likely only have a few shifts to adjust to their new hospital and unit before they are put to work.
The last thing you want to worry about as a travel nurse is your skillset. While you’re working as a staff nurse, get as much experience as you can by expanding your skillset to make yourself more marketable, learning where to find supplies on your own, or being courageous enough to ask questions. This should help ensure a successful start as a travel nurse.
The pandemic has intensified stress for healthcare workers. This strain is why some staff nurses turn to travel, but there are other potentially stressful situations you have to prepare for as a travel nurse. While you get to meet new people and experience new places, you’re likely also traveling without your immediate support system of close family and friends. For this reason, you’ll need to work on your coping mechanisms and truly understand what helps you destress.
Knowledge is power. Research the hospital, unit, community, COVID-19 trends, and housing options before deciding to take an assignment. Knowing what to expect ahead of time can make you feel more comfortable when everything around you is new.
Build a community of support near and far. With each travel nurse assignment, find your partner on the unit who you check in with day-in and day-out. Connect with other travelers to explore your new town. Have calls with friends and family back home as often as possible. Keeping and establishing these connections can keep you from feeling alone.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself in the middle of caring for your patients. This might mean you say ‘no’ to an extra shift (which means you’re saying ‘yes’ to extra sleep or more time for adventure).
Having a solid reason for becoming a healthcare traveler can keep you focused when you’re having a bad week. Your ‘why’ might be supporting your family, taking a major vacation, or meeting a savings goal. Whatever it is, let it help you keep your eye on the prize.
You’ll want your travel nurse agency to be there to walk you through every step of your new life as a healthcare traveler. There’s a lot of change and adjustment in the beginning!
Work with your recruiter to get an appropriate first-time assignment. You might want your first assignment to be at a similar type of hospital or unit as your staff job to ease into your life as a traveler. But, don’t worry – your recruiter should be able to help you meet career goals step-by-step with each assignment.
When you have a question or feel stressed, your agency should be there for you. See if your agency has a clinical services team, so you can talk to someone who understands the difficulties of the job. Ask if your agency has mental wellness resources available through an Employee Assistance Program, Chaplain Program, or insurance, so you know that you have benefits you can fall back on when you need them most.
Becoming a traveler is exciting and also a huge adjustment. To have the best start, develop your skills, do your research, and see how a travel nurse agency can be an anchor for you as you embark on a new journey.
We hope you found these tips for taking your first travel nurse assignment during the pandemic helpful.