10 Travel Nursing Mistakes

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By The Gypsy Nurse Staff

February 5, 2018



10 Travel Nursing Mistakes I Made

mistakesI made a lot of mistakes early in my travel nursing career.  I’m going to share my top 10 Travel Nursing mistakes.  Knowledge is the key to success. We’ve all heard it before and I’m going to share mine.

I was uneducated and unprepared for the life of a Travel Nurse.

I headed out on my first Travel Nurse Contract without having any idea what I was doing.  I ended up surviving but it could have been much smoother if I had only done a little research before I left home.

I had no idea what my wants and needs were.

All I knew when I left for my first contract was that I wanted to get ‘outta Dodge’.  I didn’t think about what I needed or even wanted out of travel nursing.  I took the first job offered and off I went.

I choose to leave home to begin travel nursing without a financial cushion.

Unfortunately, this was not a lesson easily learned for me.  I did this time and time again and always ‘swore’ that it wouldn’t happen again!  I was once on contract in San Diego and the company wasn’t paying me correctly or on time and I ended up canceling the contract and having to call my Dad for help to get home.  Talk about degrading!  Don’t let this happen to you…have a financial cushion.

I didn’t keep track of my paperwork and was disorganized.

Trying to find the paperwork needed for the agencies was sometimes a nightmare in the beginning.  I had some things stored on my computer, some in paper format and none of it in the same place.  Submitting to a new travel nurse staffing agency was always a daunting process.

I didn’t research travel staffing agencies well enough.

See #3!  If I had researched the agency, I would NOT have been put in this situation.  There were warning signs (that I choose to ignore) and after the fact I found out that this was a common issue with this particular company.  If only I had researched better prior to accepting the contract; perhaps I could have avoided this situation.

I totally over-packed.

When I left home for my first contract, I had a 4-door Explorer packed to the gills!  I don’t think I could have found room for an additional teaspoon.  I didn’t know what to expect from the housing so I brought everything! Couple this with having to unload all of it and unpack and I quickly learned to down-size.

I didn’t know what questions to ask in the interview.

Not knowing what to ask can make the first few days/weeks on contract even more stressful than it has to be.  I had no idea what resources I had, what the patient mix would be, etc.  Ask questions!

I had no idea how to negotiate a contract or even what should be included in my contract.

I mentioned in a previous article that anyone pursuing a career in Travel Nursing should work as a car salesman first.  I really am not kidding!  Your negotiation skill will be very important and you MUST use them.  If you don’t negotiate, companies will offer you the bare minimum.

I didn’t scrutinize the contract before I signed.

Even though we had agreed during the interview that I would have x day off for a personal reason…I didn’t make sure that it was noted in my contract.  I ended up missing an event that was quite important to me because of this. 

I didn’t listen to what ‘experienced’ travel nurses were telling me.

This is perhaps the most important lesson that I have learned.  LISTEN.  If everyone tells you that company A is a company with a bad reputation for something….they probably know.  Listen and take to heart what other more experienced Travel Nurses have to say.

Are you an experienced travel nurse?  What lessons did you learn the hard way?  Share them in the comments!



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