First Travel Assignment: 10 Things I Learned · The Gypsy Nurse

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By Megan

June 13, 2023



10 Things I Learned From My First Travel Assignment

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts. It even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

-Anthony Bourdain

What I learned from my first travel assignment:

first travel assignment

1. Taxes are a real BIOTCH. 

Get a tax professional’s help like to help you through the headache and loopholes. Don’t plan on getting any money back on taxes; you will likely have to pay, so plan for that.

2. I understand what it feels like to truly be an outsider.

 The unit I was on was very “clicky,” and many were unwelcoming. It took a solid month before people would warm up, even in the slightest. I ultimately had to grow thicker skin. Traveling is not for the faint of heart! Not everyone you meet will like you, which is okay. Just keep plugging away and taking good care of your patients. It is only 13 weeks, right?

3. I learned so much as a nurse and about myself.

 Also realized I have SO much to learn, and it will be endless learning. At times I will feel really stupid and make mistakes, but ultimately it will provide growth. Growth requires a bit of discomfort. That is partly why I chose this route. If you are looking to coast by, this is not the job for you.

4. I learned valuable skills but also picked up on what works and what doesn’t. 

With many methods to do the same job, some are less than ideal. Know when to speak up if your “Spidey-Senses” are saying something is wrong. Ultimately it is your license on the line, a patient’s life. Trust your instincts above all.

first travel assignment

5. I found strength and courage I did not think I had.

Against all odds and shadows of doubt, I showed up every day and gave my best. Amongst rude people who want to see you fail, a chaotic assignment most days and with very little gas left in my physical and mental tank. I showed up.

6. I valued the kind people who offered me nonjudgmental assistance.

 I learned the magnitude of JUST BEING KIND to others and the difference it makes. Before travel, I always tried to include travelers in everything because I could only imagine how difficult the new transition was. Never forget how much a small gesture of kindness can help somebody!

7. I realized nurses are IMMENSELY underpaid, unappreciated, and undervalued. 

Looking at my paychecks now, I feel like I am willing to work through hard days and go the extra mile because I am being paid well. You want the people caring for you to feel valued and compensated. It makes a difference. As a traveler, you have to deal with immense bullshit in unfamiliar environments, so there is a reason you are paid so well!

8. I had to learn to be extremely flexible and adaptable. 

I offer a very chill exterior, but my inner self is a typical Type A, eldest child, control freak. You know, the typical nurse personality. I’ve appreciated a deep level of flexibility I did not even realize I had. I developed a more “well shit, here we go, we’ll just have to figure it out” attitude.

9. You will be expected to do more by some staff 

you will sometimes get shittier assignments, but you know what? The day will go by fast; I can wipe the tears with hundred-dollar bills for 13 weeks. You’ll have good days and bad days, like any job!

10. For the love of god, trust your instincts and gut. 

first travel assignment

Even if they seem confident in their answer, permanent staff may be flying by the seat of their pants. This will help keep you from avoidable chaos. From here on, I will trust my instincts and ask the doctors or charge directly. Trust your instincts and do right for the patient.

I am thankful for taking the leap of faith into uncertainty and immense self and career growth. I think it will come with some troubling, stressful times, but it will also come with a vast amount of learning and experience. I think this path will take me in new directions, and I will just have to trust the timing of life.

The gypsy life is not for the faint heart, but it is worthwhile for new experiences. If you are thinking of traveling, you totally should jump on in!

Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk,

The Jet Set RN 

How was your first travel assignment? What did you learn from it? Do you have any advice or tips for fellow travel nurses about to embark on their first travel assignment? Comment them below

Our job board is a great place to search for your next travel nurse assignment. We have you covered with our housing page if housing is an issue. You can search for what you are looking for.

If you are a new travel nurse or looking into becoming a travel nurse:

Travel Nurse Guide: Step-by-Step (now offered in a PDF Downloadable version!)

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