First Day as a Travel Nurse: How to Prepare for Success

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By The Gypsy Nurse

August 8, 2018

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Step #21 Your First Day as a Travel Nurse

Today is the day!  Your first day as a travel nurse. You have settled into the new apartment and done the shopping.  The first-day nerves have probably got a hold of you…don’t worry. Check out our first-day tips below, and you’ll be ready to set yourself up for success.

A good thing to remember is every first day is the countdown to new adventures. Some contracts will be good and some not-so-good, and no matter how much you researched and questioned your recruiter about the position, you won’t know what any contract will hold until you get there.

Test Run Your First Day as a Travel Nurse

After the shopping and unpacking are finished, take a dry run through your first day of work.  Time yourself from when you walk out the door to when you arrive at your parking location.  While you might not be able to go inside the hospital depending on visitor restrictions, getting a feel for the drive-in will do wonders to help soothe your nerves.

Pre-pack Your Nurse Bag

Being prepared is a sure sign of success.  Although the hospital should have received all your paperwork from the agency, don’t take this for granted.  A good rule of thumb is to bring copies of your certifications and nursing license (if your state still does hard copies). It is also good to bring a notebook to note things like your computer login, passcodes, and directions.

Pack as if you are going to work the floor.  Hopefully, you got an idea of your orientation schedule from your manager ahead of time, but on rare occasions, you may have to jump into patient care on your first day. Bring what you usually pack for a shift, and you’ll be ready for anything.

Toss a snack and a bottle of water in your bag. As a travel nurse, you may not have access to a fridge or microwave on your first day of orientation, so plan accordingly. Finding the cafeteria might be more of a task than you’re up to (or have time for). Make sure to have something that will get you through the day.

Get a Good Nights Sleep

I can’t stress this enough.  Sleep is important, and your past few days have most likely been hectic, exciting, and chaotic.  Take some time to relax (after you have your bag packed for work), have a glass of wine, soak in the tub, curl up on the couch, or whatever it is you do to help you relax.

Arm yourself with optimism.

Optimism is the best thing you can take with you on the first day of the new travel nurse contract!  Know that there will be bumps along the way and that you will struggle to find supplies, be confused with the computer system, get lost on campus, and a myriad of other problems along the way.  Accept it.  Know that you are armed with the ability to carry on and get through it.

Expect the Unexpected

What should I expect? The unexpected!  The first day on the job is never the same from one facility to another.  You could experience any of the following on your first day of travel nurse orientation:

  • Full-Day General Orientation
  • Part/Full Day Testing
  • Computer Training
  • Formal outlined orientation or full-blown chaos
  • A brief overview of the unit and a Patient Assignment (Rare, but it could happen)
  • Sitting in an office with no one knowing what to do with you

If you think that list seems all over the place–it is. And it is the reality of travel nursing first days! Each assignment will be its own beast, so just roll with the punches.

As an experienced travel nurse, is there something that you have on your first-day list?  Is there an item that you always forget?  We would love to hear your first-day suggestions below!

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