Travel nursing is all it seems and more. It can be enriching and life changing. I recall my first year as a graduate nurse. I soaked up every bit of information I could and dreamed of the day I would take my first assignment. I always had an itch to see the country and experience new foods and culture. I took my first assignment over ten years ago and never looked back. My travels led me from Florida to California and finally to Northern Europe where I have settled. While travel nursing is for most, there are a few essentials to the success of your first journey.
Wander lust is defined as “a strong desire to travel.” This does not necessarily mean you need to have already traveled extensively. All that is required is the desire. If you are the kind of person that likes to take day trips, weekend getaways, or even a quick overnighter, traveling is likely for you.
A Good Recruiter
It is important to find the right recruiter. You are going to rely on this individual to arrange the right assignment, housing, and travel. You can get a sense very quickly whether the recruiter you have been assigned is a fit for you. A good recruiter will find the assignment that fits your needs and wants, not the other way around.
A travel nurse needs to be flexible. If a hospital is hiring travelers, it is generally an indication that there is a strong need for nurses. Be prepared to jump in after a short orientation to the unit. Know that you will likely be the first to work holidays unless you specify otherwise in your contract. Be prepared even that your host unit might float you to another similar unit in the unlikely event that they are overstaffed.
A Travel Buddy
A travel buddy can be a nurse friend that actually joins you in your journey or a nurse friend that can share his or her past travel experiences and tips with you. Travel buddies can refer you to the best company, best recruiter, and the most travel friendly hospitals.
A Travel Bag
It is important to know what your housing offers when packing. Packing in preparation for your first assignment can be a tedious process. Most of us over pack our first time around. Before packing, find out what is provided in your housing. Your housing should include a fully furnished apartment with everything from the linens to pots, pans, and cutlery. A good travel bag should include obvious items like clothing, uniforms, shoes, and any necessary documents. Less is better. Try to wait to buy any needed shampoo, laundry detergent, or cleaning supplies until you arrive. It is less to carry on the road and gives you a chance to explore your new city as you get settled.
A Travel Routine
While most contracts are three months, it is essential to establish routines for yourself while on assignment. Establishing routines in your new environment will ward off the travel nurse blues, that sinking feeling a traveler sometimes gets when acclimating to a completely new environment. Join a local gym. Join a local yoga studio. If you are a reader, find a local book club. Research ahead of time and try to make your host city home for the time you are there.
Arrive prepared and open. You will be well received and might even find that you want to stay. Wishing you a very successful and enriching journey!
Lori is an American nurse and yogini living in Gothenburg, Sweden. She contributes regularly to Mighty Nurse, AWHONN, American Nurse Today, and has been featured in The Huffington Post. Follow her adventures through her blog, Neonurse, or on Instagram.