On average, travel nurse assignments are about 13 weeks long. However, some contracts can range anywhere from 8-26 weeks. Typically, it’s not the length of an assignment that matters but what you’re doing to make a difference while you’re there.
That’s why so many travel nurses love what they do – every day can be a little bit different, and you never know what a new assignment will bring. That kind of fulfillment is second-to-none, and knowing you’re doing something that matters all over the world while meeting new people and experiencing new places makes your job truly incredible.
However, managing your health can be difficult when you lack stability. While your job is to take care of others and put them first, doing so at the risk of your own health isn’t helping anyone.
So, how can you manage your health as a busy travel nurse, prioritize your well-being, and enjoy what you do even more as a result? Let’s cover a few tips.
Don’t Ignore Your Own Medical Care.
When you’re dealing with a busy schedule and never in one place for too long, it can be easy to forget to schedule routine medical appointments for yourself. Or, you might have the best intentions but “forget” to keep the appointment because something else came up.
Nurses still need medical care. You might not be able to see a primary care physician consistently, but you can use technology to your advantage to make sure you’re getting the healthcare you deserve.
Consider utilizing telemedicine. You can check in with a physician no matter where you are, whether you want to talk about test results, bring up a health concern that’s been bothering you, or even speak with a specialist. Nowadays, you can take advantage of telehealth services for everything from therapy to dermatology. Yes, the selfie you take of that mark on your arm can make it to your dermatologist halfway across the world.
When you utilize telemedicine, you can connect with doctors on your own time and schedule your appointments when they work best for you without having to show up in person.
Get Enough Sleep
Travel nursing is notorious for long, busy shifts. As a result, you might feel like you can’t prioritize sleep the way you should. However, it’s essential to perform your best and take care of your patients properly. Consider setting sleep goals for yourself. It can make it easier to take “baby steps” to improve your overall sleep hygiene. If you’re not sure how to get started, try some of the following tips:
- Avoid using digital devices an hour before bed
- Limit caffeine later in the day
- Try to wake up around the same time each day (if possible)
- Practice relaxation techniques before bed
You might not be on a consistent schedule where you can go to sleep at the same time each night and wake up at the same time every morning. However, do your best to keep your circadian rhythm in a routine, and whenever you get the chance to get a bit of extra rest, take it!
Getting enough sleep is one component of self-care, but there are so many other things you should be doing to prioritize your well-being. Self-care isn’t selfish, and it won’t take away from your patients or your experience.
You don’t have to take a lot of time out of your day to practice self-care. Making small changes and choosing to do things that reduce your stress levels will make a big difference. That includes things like eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and staying hydrated throughout the day. Something as simple as drinking more water can help you feel better and give you more energy on long shifts. If you have a hard time getting the hydration you need, use these “hacks” to drink more water each day:
- Set a daily goal
- Set reminders on your phone
- Carry a water bottle with you
- Replace other drinks with water
- Try sparkling or flavored varieties
These tips are just the beginning. There are so many “little things” you can do to manage your health as a nurse, no matter where you are. However, you can use these suggestions to get started and commit to prioritizing your well-being when you’re away from home.
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.