Are You Ready? Preparing for Your Journey as a Travel Nurse


Working as a travel nurse is definitely exciting. It allows you to experience new places and broaden your horizons. LIke any trip or new endeavor, it requires a bit of preparation to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible.  To help you get ready for this journey, we’ve put together a quick checklist to ensure you are prepared for your new career. Spending a little extra time today will mean fewer headaches or problems tomorrow.

First, you should create a travel binder. This will include all the professional documents you are likely to need in your new assignment. Things to include are a copy of your nursing license and any special certifications (i.e. ACLS, PALS, etc). This is also a good place to keep a copy of your immunization record and your health insurance card.

Additionally, include a checklist of the supplies you need to take with you to each assignment. Be sure to include even basic items like your scrubs, shoes, medicines, toothpaste, etc. When it’s time to pack, simply follow the list. This is easier and you are less likely to leave anything behind.

Second, create a family binder. This binder should be left at home with parents, siblings or a close friend. It should include your itinerary as well as the address and phone number of where you will be working and staying. It would be good to include any other pertinent information they might need to know. For example, the overall length of your assignment or any additional travel/vacation plans you might have.

Third, you should have a clear understanding of what to expect on each assignment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about everything. Make sure you have detailed knowledge of things like the type of care delivery system, nurse-patient ratios, floating and scheduling. You may also want to do a search of the facility online to find out additional information that may be important.

Thoroughly read your contract before signing it. Be 100% certain about what you’re signing. Make sure the pay rate is what you agreed upon beforehand and whether or not your hours are guaranteed. Don’t be afraid to ask that a clause is written into the contract regarding which departments you will float. For example, if you’ve always worked in oncology or on a med-surg floor, you may not be comfortable floating to obstetrics.

The fourth thing to do is to have a schedule for your home and pets. If you own your home, be sure you have a reliable person to swing by and check on it from time to time. Have a plan in place for lawn maintenance, mail pickup, plant watering, etc. If you have a pet and are unable to take them with you, line up reliable care. Be sure to write down the name and number of anyone who will responsible for your home and/or pets in your travel binder.

The fifth thing is to know how you are going to handle your finances. When you’re a travel nurse, it’s a good idea to sit down one day out of the month and pay all your bills at the same time. This includes utilities, cell phone, car and insurance, credit cards, and more. An even better option is to set up auto-payments, though you’ll need to make sure and remember when they will be deducted from your account.

Finally, get your vehicle ready to go. If you’ll be driving your own car, be sure that is serviced and in good working order before you leave home. Get your oil changed and make sure that your tires have plenty of tread. Also, you may want to add a small first-aid kit, blanket, few bottles of water and granola bars, extra set of scrubs, and extra cell phone charger for any potential emergency.

Follow these simple steps and travel nursing will be one of the best experiences of your life.   Ready to get started? Contact us or submit your resume for your next adventure with Focus Staff.

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