Are you embarking on your first travel nursing or travel therapy assignment? Congratulations! Being a travel RN or a travel therapy professional is a very rewarding career path with many benefits. You have the opportunity to practice your skills and be paid a great salary, all while seeing the country!
We recently asked experienced traveling nurses and therapists what advice they would have for first time travelers. Here are the top 8 things they said you must do before starting your first travel assignment.
1. Research your new area.
There are many ways you can research your new area. We recommend visiting the TripAdvisor website or downloading the TripAdvisor app. It's a great resource to find local attractions, outdoor activities, restaurants, and so much more. Also, check out Roadtrippers if you're driving to your new assignment and want to see the sights along the way. You can also start following the area's local news page on social media to get information about upcoming events in your new location.
2. Meet people.
It can be hard meeting people (outside of work) as a traveling nurse or therapist on assignment for 8-13 weeks. A lot of travel RNs and therapists we know recommend Meetup. It's a site you can sign up for to find groups to join in your new area. There are Meetup groups for almost everything! Whether you're into crafting, reading, hiking, running, wine tasting, skydiving, whatever! Research the groups near your new home and join them. Most groups are free, and some have small fees. The great thing about Meetup is that each group is reviewed by participants regularly, so you know what you're getting into before meeting a new group of people.
3. Pack a smart carry-on bag.
If you're flying to your new assignment, you want to make sure you have everything you need to start your job as a contract RN, PT, OT, or SLP. Let's face it, sometimes airlines lose luggage and you might be without the things you need for a few days. Be prepared by packing a carry-on suitcase with an extra change of clothing, a few work uniforms, medications you need, toiletries, etc.
4. Be flexible and adaptable.
Being a traveling therapist or nurse, you are working at a facility to temporarily address their staffing needs. It's also a place where you can sharpen your skills and learn new skills. Take the opportunity and see if there is anything you can do to assist where needed and if there are any skill sets you can get more experience in that you can add to your resume. Doing so is a win-win for you and the hospital!
5. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
As a contract RN or therapist, you are a guest in someone else's facility. If the way the staff does things works for that particular hospital, don't question it. Try to refrain from saying, "This is the way we did it at my last job." We know you're trying to impart some wisdom that may be helpful, but don't alienate the new medical staff you're working with by doing so. If what they do works and is safe, leave it alone.
6. Don't pack more than you need.
If you're really not going to use something over the course of your 13-week travel assignment, leave it at home. Just think: if you purchase any souvenirs or gifts over the course of your contract, you'll have to pack those with you when you leave, or pay to have them shipped.
7. Have a "just in case" fund.
There are some expenses that may come up prior to your assignment or after it begins. Your travel nursing or allied company will reimburse you for your licensing costs and travel expenses, but you may have to pay for these initially. Be sure to have enough savings to cover expenses like these if you're starting a new contract or are between jobs. You also could run into car trouble on your way to an assignment. Be sure to have at least a couple thousand dollars in savings (if possible) to cover any unexpected expenses.
8. Relax, it's only 13 weeks.
Sometimes travel RN or therapy assignments might not be ideal for you due to a number of factors. It could have to do with the facility, the staff, or simply that the area is not your cup of tea. Just remember: it's only 13 weeks. If you have safety concerns, definitely contact your recruiter and the travel company's nurse liaison. But if you aren't enjoying the assignment for another reason, just try to look on the bright side. It won't be long until you're onto your next contract!
CoreMedical Group has travel contracts for RNs, PTs, OTs, and SLPs all across the country.
Learn More About Travel Therapy By Downloading Our Guide Below!