So, you’re starting your first travel nurse assignment! Setting out on your first assignment can be exciting yet intimidating. To ensure you begin your new journey on the right foot, here are 25 travel nursing tips to get you started!
Do your research
If you’re considering taking on your first travel nurse assignment, doing your research ahead of time is an important step. Read up on travel nurse blogs, talk to travelers about their experience, or reach out to a recruiter for any questions you may have.
You should also research facilities you’d like to work at or locations you’d like to travel to, so you have an idea of where to start. Doing the research upfront will help you have a successful travel nurse experience!
As a first-time travel nurse, it’s helpful to make sure you have all the necessary documents ready before beginning your journey into this exciting career. Make sure you have the proper license and certifications to work in the state you plan on traveling to for your assignment.
Be sure to keep these documents in a safe place so they’re available when needed. A great place to store them is in your Fusion Marketplace profile! That way all your credentials are in one place and are accessible wherever you go with the Fusion Marketplace app.
Update your resume
As a new travel nurse, it's important to make sure you have an up-to-date resume before you apply to any assignments. Make sure you include all your current skills and certifications, any ongoing continuing education courses, and any specialized trainings that are relevant to the job.
Finally, save your resume as a PDF file to ensure it reaches its destination in a well-formatted format. Or you can use your Fusion Marketplace profile as a resume, since you can easily share it with agencies and recruiters when you apply for jobs on Fusion Marketplace.
Taking the time to update your resume beforehand will make the application process for future assignments much smoother for both you and potential employers.
Consider getting a compact nursing license
If you're new to travel nursing, one great tip is to consider getting a compact nursing license. A compact license lets you practice in 36 states, opening the door to more travel nurse opportunities throughout the U.S.
So, if an assignment is in one of the states that recognizes the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), it'll save you time and hassle since you won’t have to get a new license for every state you want to practice in.
Think about health insurance
It's essential to weigh your options and research both options before committing so that you feel confident in the health coverage that best serves your travel nursing journey. While many staffing agencies offer health insurance, you can also take out your own private insurance coverage.
With agency insurance, you’ll probably pay a cheaper premium and won’t have to shop around, but you also may only be covered while on assignment. If you like to take breaks in between assignments, you may want to consider private insurance.
Create a budget
Being a travel nurse can be a rewarding experience, however, it does require some financial planning. Creating a travel nurse budget is a great first step in making sure that you are all set for your next assignment.
Be sure to factor in items such as housing and transportation costs, along with other daily necessities. You may also want to include an emergency fund as part of your budget just in case you need it.
With a little bit of planning and thought, there's no reason why you can't make the most of your first time as a travel nurse!
Quit your perm job first
Being familiar with the timeline of travel nurse jobs is important before you start applying. When you officially submit for a travel job, you’ll most likely have a job offer within 24-48 hours. (Remember, expressing interest in a job with an agency on Fusion Marketplace is very different than that agency officially submitting your application to the facility.)
Because of this timing, it’s crucial that you put in your two weeks’ notice with your perm job before you start applying to travel nurse jobs. That may seem scary, but travel nurse contracts move fast, so being ready to go is key to success in landing top jobs.
Compare jobs and pay packages
When searching for your first travel nurse job, comparing jobs can be a big part of making the best decision. Use a job board like Fusion Marketplace to compare assignments from multiple agencies with transparent job details and salary information.
Travel nurse pay packages vary from agency to agency, but critical information to compare includes things like base salary, housing stipends, and reimbursement for travel expenses. Additional compensation for certifications or licenses, and benefits such as health insurance and 401K contributions are also important considerations.
Doing comprehensive research ahead of time will help set you up with the best package for your needs and make sure that your transition into a travel nurse career is as smooth as possible.
When considering your first travel nurse assignment, being flexible is key! Be open to different locations, facilities, shifts, and units.
Consider taking assignments in different locations and for varying lengths of time – this allows you to explore new places and gain more experience as a travel nurse. Don’t be afraid to try something outside of your comfort zone!
With flexibility comes numerous opportunities to expand your skillset, build relationships with colleagues, and expand your horizons overall. Plus, the best way to find out what you prefer in an assignment is to try different things.
Pick somewhere you’re comfortable
Choosing the right city for your first travel nurse assignment is an important first step as you embark on a new journey in healthcare. Think about what kind of environment you are currently most comfortable in or what cities you’re already familiar with.
Picking a city where you already have friends and family is another good way to make your first assignment a little easier.
Ultimately, your comfort level should be at the top of your priority list when selecting your first travel nurse assignment location; we recommend that you get more adventurous for your second!
Prepare for the interview
Prepping for your first travel nurse interview can be intimidating. After all, you may not have had much experience with remote interviewing processes. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure that you have a successful interview experience and land the job of your dreams.
First and foremost, do your research! Find out as much as possible about the employer and position so that you can answer questions in your interview confidently and articulately.
Additionally, practice responding to likely questions with mock interviews or a friend. Finally, make sure to prepare ahead of time by brushing up on industry knowledge and getting organized the night before with documents and notes.
Doing these simple steps will give you an edge over the competition and help put yourself in the best position to secure a travel nurse contract!
Know when to negotiate
Navigating the world of travel nurse wages can be a tricky business, so it is important to go into your negotiations with knowledge and confidence. Before sitting down to negotiate your contract, browse what similar assignments are paying on a transparent job board like Fusion Marketplace.
It is also important to consider factors such as the cost of living in each region and other amenities that can help make up for a lower rate. Reference your travel nurse budget as well and know how much you need to make, and then don’t be afraid to fight for the wage you think you deserve.
Make sure you’re negotiating directly with your recruiter and starting this process before you submit. And remember, you can negotiate contract items besides pay, like your schedule, time off, and guaranteed hours.
Get it in writing
As a first-time travel nurse, you'll want to make sure all your stipulations and preferences are clearly outlined in your contract. Even if they seem small, if they’re important to you, document them in writing!
This could be anything from time off, shift preferences, number of required hours, and reimbursement and cancelation policies. Getting all these details upfront ensures that throughout your assignment, you know exactly what you're signing up for and there are no gaps in expectations between you and the facility.
Read the fine print in your contract
Before signing a contract, make sure to read it in full and confirm you understand it. A solid overview of your pay rate, benefits, and project expectations can save you many headaches down the road!
Take some time to research specifics that may be unclear or confusing. It's best to address any questions or concerns you may have directly so that both parties are on the same page.
Make sure everything you requested is in your contract as well. Being prepared and informed will only increase your chances of having a successful and enjoyable travel nurse experience!
It can be daunting to make all the necessary arrangements for your nursing assignment. Safe, secure housing that is suitable for you should be one of the first items on your checklist.
Look into all possible avenues, including long-term rentals, Airbnb, or living in an RV or camper if you don't mind a more adventurous lifestyle. You can also browse housing on Fusion Marketplace while you look at jobs with our integration with Furnished Finder!
Talk to fellow travel nurses; they may have some helpful advice on places they enjoyed living while on assignment. Ultimately, you'll want to secure housing that allows you to have a great and safe time during your travels.
Plan for your pets
Don’t forget to prepare your pets if you’re bring them with you on assignment! Before you head out, schedule a vet appointment if needed to make sure they’re up to date on vaccinations or get medication to help them with the journey.
Ensure your housing accommodations are pet friendly and do some research on vets that will be close by in your new city, just in case. It’s also a good idea to bring along their documentation and vet records with you, either physically or digitally uploaded.
Take care of logistics back home
Preparing your home base before heading out on a travel nursing assignment can help give you peace of mind while away.
Some travel nurses have a friend or family member housesit for them while they’re gone, and others may temporarily rent out their home. Just remember, you must be duplicating your expenses if you’re receiving tax-free stipends.
You should also figure out if you need to arrange mail forwarding, paid and automatic bill payments, insurance renewals, or other services as needed. Taking care of these logistic items before leaving helps minimize time spent on day-to-day details so you can focus on the exciting opportunity ahead as a travel nurse!
If you’re taking on a travel nurse assignment for the first time, packing is one of the most important things to consider. You want to make sure you bring all the essentials while still being conscious of what you need to carry and how far it has to go with you!
Look into which essentials will be included with your housing and pack accordingly. And while it’s important to pack light, consider bringing a few pieces from home that will make your temporary housing feel cozy.
Get to know other travel nurses
It can be daunting to move from location to location and not know anyone. However, networking with other travel nurses can really help you settle into the travel nursing lifestyle.
Reach out on social media and join any relevant forums or groups (like Fusion Marketplace Connect) so you can get to know fellow travelers. Being able to talk to people with similar experiences is invaluable when facing new hospitals and cultures.
It's also an awesome way to get recommendations for housing and local attractions, as well as travel nurse advice. Seek out others who have already traveled where you're headed and gain insights to make your journey smoother!
Make friends with coworkers
As a travel nurse, it’s important to take advantage of the unique opportunity to make meaningful connections with fellow nurses (and those in other disciplines). Making friends with your coworkers is more than just getting to know them personally; it also helps create a supportive work environment which can make your assignment much more enjoyable.
Try to connect to your new local community, bond with perm staff, or meet other travel nurses in the area. You never know what great friendships you might form!
Be confident about your knowledge and skills
As a first-time traveler nurse, it is important to have confidence in your experience and skills. Travel nursing comes with many challenges that require you to think on your feet – so trust yourself and your abilities!
Remember that learning is part of the job. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the new situations you will encounter but use these opportunities as chances to grow in your skill set. With some research, self-assurance, and an open mind – this may just be one of the most rewarding experiences of your professional career.
Take care of your mental health
You are sure to experience an exciting adventure during your first assignment. However, it is also important to take care of your mental health as you move around from place to place.
Make time for yourself – doing things like meditating, journaling, or listening to music can all be useful ways of managing stress and finding balance while on the go. Enlisting support from friends or family whom you can trust and lean on is also essential in helping maintain your mental health and preventing burnout.
Taking the necessary steps to check in with yourself throughout the process is key in being successful as a travel nurse.
Stay connected with your recruiter
It’s important to stay in touch with your recruiter throughout your assignment. Your recruiter is there to provide essential advice and answer any questions you may have and make sure your facility and housing is meeting your needs.
Proactively reach out to them before and during assignments; it will help create an open line of communication where you can continue to develop a great relationship. This will also make it easier to find your next assignment when your current contract ends.
Think about your next assignment
It’s never too early to start thinking about your next assignment! There are a few things you should consider before you start planning:
- Are there any holidays coming up that you want to be home for?
- Is there a certain climate you want to be in?
- Do you want time off in between assignments?
The answers to these questions will help you decide when you should start applying to your next assignment. If you’re looking to go from one assignment to another, you should start looking for jobs about four to six weeks before your current assignment ends.
Let your recruiter know what you’re thinking for your next assignment and remember you can browse available jobs on Fusion Marketplace at any time.
Don’t limit yourself to one agency
One of the smartest moves you can make is to open yourself up to working with multiple travel nurse agencies. Working with more than one travel nurse agency allows you to take full advantage of the traveling nurse job market by giving yourself access to a larger variety of locations and healthcare facilities across the country.
Additionally, connections at more than one agency ensure that you’re always able to find work should your current assignment come to an end. With this approach, you can also get a better sense of how different agencies operate, which can be beneficial for evaluating future job opportunities.
While it may seem like a good idea to focus on just one agency early on in your career, don’t limit yourself from the many opportunities out there – becoming a traveling nurse has too many benefits for that.
As a professional healthcare traveler, there’s nothing quite like your first travel job assignment. When the pivotal moment occurs to accept your first job, make sure you’re prepared and take advantage of Fusion Marketplace to gain full control over your travel career.