Butterflies on the First Day


By Aaron Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert

As I got ready to send my four kids off to their first day of school this year, I couldn’t help but think back to my first day. Not my first day of kindergarten, mind you--honestly, who can remember that far back? But my first day of working as a travel nurse was just as anxiety-provoking. I think I slept about 30 minutes the night before and 12 hours the night after.

So below are some sure-fire ways that I’ve found to help you sleep well and have a great first day of travel nursing.

First, do everything you can to actually get some sleep. Take a nap or go to bed early. Follow the age-old advice of not eating prior to sleeping, and then watch an old, funny rerun of your favorite show before you head off to sleep. This will help to calm down the spirit and get you “dreaming.”

I always carried a few seasons of my favorite shows with me when working as a travel nurse. Whenever you’re missing home or just want something familiar, pop in season four of M*A*S*H and count the seconds until you feel completely relaxed.

Next, make sure you know where you are going. Yes, literally; get some accurate directions to your new hospital. I usually went so far as to drive the route a day or two before my start date to judge traffic and true distance. We all know online maps can be wrong, and rushing through an unfamiliar city on your first day of travel nursing is never a good idea.

Sometimes, if I could, I would even walk the hospital and find my way to my unit. Leave nothing to chance.

And make sure you bring all the documents you might need. By this point I’m sure you’ve signed and turned in everything from your nursing license to your most recent TB test. But as my dad always said, make three copies of everything: one for yourself, one for then, and one for when they lose it. And trust me they will lose some stuff. Also bring a calculator; I’m telling you from experience that there is a basic nursing math test in your future!

Most of all, don’t worry. No matter where your assignment takes you, every first day of travel nursing is very much like the others. And 99 percent of what you worry about will never happen, anyway. So take that first step, call a recruiter and get ready for an amazing adventure.

Remember, every new thing is anxiety-provoking in the beginning, If you were to ask someone who has sky-dived before if they were scared on their first jump, I guarantee they’d say, “Yes.” Then they would probably proceed to tell you about the excitement of their recent jumps and other adventurous things they’ve done since.

It all starts with that first jump. So take a leap off your safe perch and explore your world--all while being well paid, working a travel nurse.

Do You Have a Question About Travel Nursing?
Send your questions to Aaron. You can also find answers to FAQs, or apply today to get started with one of’s staffing partners.

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