Being a new travel nurse can be intimidating. You are not alone in this feeling. Even seasoned travel nurses get the first day jitters. I had mild panic attacks before my 2nd assignment started. It was terrifying for me because it was a float position. Nevertheless, I ended up loving it and I learned so much!
This article lists the top fears among new travel nurses and strategies to overcome those fears.
“I’m scared my coworkers won’t like me.”
This is a common fear but let’s think about this rationally. What are the odds that every single one of your coworker won’t like you? Slim. However, it may take a few weeks to earn each other’s trust. Be a team player and offer your assistance when your coworkers are overwhelmed. It won’t take long for them to realize that you are a wonderful addition to the team.
Sometimes, the morale of a unit is low, especially if they have been working short-staffed for an extended period. Don’t take this personally. Continue to be positive and offer your help. Positivity is contagious. It won’t change difficult working conditions but it can bring people together. Be the change you want to see. If you continue to feel that the culture is negative, don’t extend!
“I’m scared of being lonely.”
If you fear being lonely, ask your recruiter to submit you to facilities that use a lot of travelers. You will most likely orient with other travelers. Orientation is the perfect time to find a co-adventurer to explore the area with. I love comparing “bucket-lists” on the first day of orientation (on breaks, obviously)!
If you don’t hit it off with anyone or don’t want to rely on work to make friends, check out 14 Tips For Travel Nurses Exploring a New City
“I’m scared of finding out I’m not competent enough.”
Doubting yourself is an awful feeling. Yet, deep inside, you know you are a competent nurse. A badass nurse, actually. It can be daunting when faced with new protocols, charting systems, and technologies. However, when you get down to the nitty-gritty, being a nurse is the same everywhere. You know how to assess a patient and plan their care. You know how to prioritize. So what if you’ve never used the new IV pump before? Maybe you don’t remember where half of the supplies are. You know the fundamentals and the rest is just child’s play. You’ll get there. Below are a few ideas that will aid you.
Although the charge nurse is a great resource, you should always look up policies/procedures when you are unsure. If you aren’t shown how to look up policies/procedures, make it a point to have someone show you. This is important because policies can vary widely from facility to facility and best practice changes constantly. The ones that come up for me often as a med-surg nurse are hypoglycemia and blood administration protocols. I make sure I know them on day 1.
If you haven’t started traveling yet, you should consider a float position. I didn’t take a float position until I started traveling. I learned a lot but I would’ve learned even more with a proper orientation at a permanent position. Float positions build your confidence, widen your skill set, and make you more marketable.
You need 1-2 years of experience as a nurse before you start traveling. I contacted my agency 6 months before I wanted to start traveling. It was a great way to get advice from my recruiter about how to make myself more marketable. When the time came, I already had a trusting relationship with my recruiter.
“But the orientation is so short!”
You’re right about that one. For a successful orientation, check out 10 Tips For a Successful Travel Nurse Orientation.
“What if the charting is different?”
You will probably catch on to a new charting system faster than you think. However, it is totally acceptable to tell your recruiter that you only want to work in a facility with X charting system. (Hopefully EPIC, if you know what’s good for ya!)
“What if the location ends up less than ideal?”
Well, it is only 13 weeks. However, try to make it a positive experience. Read 14 Tips For Travel Nurses Exploring a New City for guidance on making the best of your new location.
“I’m nervous that I won’t find housing and I don’t want to get scammed.”
For me, housing is the most stressful aspect of travel. You can use Airbnb, VRBO, craigslist, property management companies, etc. I shy away from craigslist as it seems to be full of scammers and spammers. Some travelers stay in a hotel the first week to scope out the area. Sometimes coworkers can give you way more information than the internet can. Whatever you do, make sure you read reviews by real people!
“I’m confused about how the pay works.”
It is confusing. Read Travel Nurse Income and Budget: A Transparent Example
If you have questions concerning taxes, The Gypsy Nurse blog is a fantastic resource.
“What if I can’t find an assignment and I end up jobless?”
First and foremost, don’t put your notice in at your permanent position until you sign a contract with a travel facility. Second, there are plenty of travel positions out there. However, some specialties have more openings than others. If you have a specific location in mind, ask your recruiter to send you the openings in that area to get an idea of what the market looks like.
“Will it ever get easier?”
Yes. My anxiety tends to ease off around week 3-4. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you adjust.
The unknown is always a little scary. However, you should never let fear keep you from following your heart. Be the same badass nurse you’ve always been and take a leap of faith!
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