As my first travel assignment comes to a close it gives me the opportunity to reflect on the experiences I have gained, and jot down a few tips and tricks that may help a FIRST TIME TRAVELER avoid some pitfalls.

Quick Update: I have spent the past 3 months working as a circulating nurse in the cardiac operating room at Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville. This was my second nursing job, but my first travel assignment. 

Below are a few things I have learned over the past 13 weeks:

1. Keep an open mind: Stay positive about processes and procedures that may be different (or less efficient) than you have seen. This means that your suggestions and constructive criticism may fall on deaf ears. It is important to remain positive and keep stay focused on honing your skills and ensuring you do not adopt any bad habits you encounter. I do recommend sticking to your best and safest practices along the way no matter what. Always do what you know is right for your patient!

2. Foster New Connections: I doubt I will find another hospital that has such a warm and welcoming crew as the staff here. It really is amazing the bond that you immediately create with coworkers while working in an environment like the operating room. The high stress situations create a camaraderie with your new coworkers. Make it a point learn everyone’s names and earn respect through hard work. In this scenario you may encounter anyone from the administrators to the doctors on down to the scrub techs further on down your career. Also, as a traveler, you are an ambassador for future travelers to each hospital.

It was a pleasure working with these nurses at Jacksonville Memorial

Not only are the hospital connections important – but with the travel agency as well.

Check back for my next article on How to choose the right travel nursing agency. I have been jotting down many helpful tips on choosing the right agency and how to prepare prior to each assignment.

3. Before Signing Contracts… Be as specific as as you can be from hours, to hours on call or will there even be call, and pay rates for being called back. Up to this point, I have been required to take call. However, I didn’t think to INCLUDE LIMITS ON CALL SHIFTS PER WEEK in my contract. This would have proved extremely helpful on this last assignment. By the end of my assignment staffing had taken a turn for the worst, leaving only 2 of us taking CVOR call (AKA on call EVERY other night). So, you see if I included a minimum or maximum days of call on my contract this wouldn’t have been an issue. CYA people! Just like when you’re documenting “if you didn’t document it, it didn’t happen” Essentially the same idea for you contracts. If you want something a certain way you must include it in writing! What the manager says this during the interview is not a contract – it can and, most likely, will change if its not in writing. Definitely include all you’re reimbursements, stipends, and weekly pay on your contract so its very clear to everyone involved.

4. Don’t wait to arrange your next assignment: Even though its near impossible to prepare for the next assignment or move, I suggest you start searching and putting your feelers out there a few weeks in advance (i.e. halfway through the current assignment), at the very least. With each assignment comes the necessary paperwork, contracts, modules, and exams that are time consuming. But if you have an awesome recruiter, like I do now, then this won’t even need to be a thought in your mind. Your recruiter SHOULD have your back and SHOULD already be one step ahead of you (it is obvious if they are not on top of things). Shout out to Gabrielle Youngblood at PPR for being so helpful and always giving me the confidence to just sit back and relax and just trust that she is always trying her hardest to get the best assignment for me.

Thanks for taking the time to read, and I hope you are able to take this information and implement it into your first travel assignment!