Tips for Perfecting Your First Travel Nursing Assignment

Tips for Perfecting Your First Travel Nursing Assignment

By Elizabeth Marcant, Contributor

Whether you've landed your first travel nursing assignment or you're a seasoned traveler, first days are always important to plan for. With a lot of information and responsibility coming your way, take a few small actions to make the most of your first shift. 

Tips to Perfect Your First Travel Nursing Assignment

Create a first day ritual

According to research, rituals aren't just illogical superstition. Doing preparatory work, especially in a specific order or manner, can help you center yourself and encourage positive energy. Simple rituals can be very effective in times of turmoil, such as after the loss of a loved one, and they can also be helpful for the first day on a nursing job.

This is especially true for travel nurses, who may start a new assignment every 13 weeks or more. The ritual you do on or before your first day helps reduce the feelings of the unknown in a new city and at a new facility. It doesn't have to be fancy, and you can customize it for your own personality. Some ideas include:

  1. Bringing a small item, such as a favorite plant or piece of decor, with you to each new home
  2. Eating the same meal on the first day of (or night before) every new travel nursing job
  3. Listening to a specific song or playlist that gets you excited and energized
  4. Wearing the same jewelry, especially if you have something meaningful to you
  5. Saying a certain prayer or reading a mantra on your way out the door
  6. Talking to a specific family member or friend the night before your new job

Celebrate the small (new) things

If you're a seasoned travel nurse, day one on the job may not seem like a big deal. But getting through the first shift in a new facility with all new people is a success, and celebrating small things is something highly successful people do. Plan ahead and have a reward waiting; extra points if it doubles as a stress-reliever in case your first day is hectic or frustrating. Some ideas include a movie you've been wanting to stream, the next episode of a television show, a good book, a luxurious bath bomb or a glass of your favorite drink or a sweet treat after dinner.

Do your homework before the first day

Aaron Moore, MSN, RN-BC, reminds travel nurses to do a little prep work before their first day on a nursing job to reduce the risks of increased stress. Travel to the location from your new home so you know how long it takes and consider walking around inside the facility if possible to get the lay of the land. Moore also advocates getting a good night's sleep and remembering that the first day of a travel nursing job is typically similar to what you've experienced elsewhere.

Invest in a notebook or organizational app you love

Asking questions on your first day helps you understand how this assignment differs from previous ones, but you know day one of any nursing job comes with a lot of information. Arm yourself with a notebook or app to record all the information in so you can remember it later. Choose a notebook with a hard back so you can write on the go, and opt for spiral-bound at the top so you can flip pages easily. Nurses may also want to choose a high-quality ball-point pen that fits their hand ergonomically with ink that doesn't smudge or run when exposed to moisture.

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