Travel nurses are expected to work independently within a short time-frame. This article describes the typical travel nurse orientation and provides the tip sheet for “10 Tips for a Successful Travel Nurse Orientation”.
Travel Nurse Orientation Components
Orientation is different at every facility but the typical travel nurse orientation is 1 week. This may not be a full 36 hours, either. It is important to check with your agency to see if they prorate your housing stipend the first week if 36 hours are not met. It is common for a facility to provide 1-2 classroom days and 2 orientation days on the floor.
Classroom orientation itineraries vary widely. Most likely, you will have dedicated time to learn the charting system. You may spend this time completing mandatory regulation modules online. The facility should go over important policies and protocols.
Every minute you have orientating to the floor is important. Although everyone learns differently, I recommend against taking a full patient load the first day. If possible, take a patient who will discharge that day and a patient who is having a procedure done. Also let your preceptor know that you would like to take an admission.
Tips for a Successful Travel Nurse Orientation
- Meet your resource people. Introduce yourself to your preceptor and charge nurse. Meet your management team. Ask your preceptor who the veteran nurses are on your unit and introduce yourself to them.
- Ask your preceptor for a tour of the unit. Know where the crash carts, supplies, linens, clean/dirty utility, med rooms, and bathrooms are. If you find yourself with down-time, take a self-guided tour and challenge yourself to NOT get lost. Take a look at the layout of your supply closet and practice finding items that you know you will need.
- Learn how to look up policies/protocols. Set aside a few minutes to practice this and find policies/protocols relevant to your work flow.
- Learn important phone numbers such as telemetry, nurse’s station, and food service. Write the phone numbers on a blank patient label and attach it to the back of your badge for easy access.
- Learn how to do an admission and do at least 1 during your orientation
- Learn how to do a discharge and do at least 1 during your orientation
- Find out what the RN’s responsibilities are when sending a patient for a procedure or surgery. There may special documentation and/or order sets that you need to know about.
- Learn the required documentation. This is the bare minimum that the facility requires you to chart on.
- Practice delegation and ask what responsibilities your nursing assistants have. Their roles vary widely with each facility (and often vary between units)! Communicate clearly and consistently with your team to ensure everyone knows your patients’ up-to-date care plans.
- Practice paging the physicians.
Still nervous about starting your travel nurse career? Check out Overcoming Your Fears as a New Travel Nurse.
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