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Six Tips for New Travel Nurses

We recently hosted 11 travel nurses in our office in Boca Raton, Fla., for a nurse panel and focus groups, and they provided some great feedback about the benefits and challenges of travel nursing, RNnetwork’s application process, favorite assignments and perks of traveling.

Here are six things our travel nurses want new travelers to know:

Bethany Bunker, travel nurse1. Be confident.

“You need really strong assessment skills in your specialty and excellent communication skills, especially as you adapt to the way different hospitals do things. Once you have those skills, you just need to be prepared, organized and confident. Be sure of yourself, and trust your judgment. ”

Bethany Bunker

RNnetwork NICU travel nurse

Elizabeth Inderbitzen, travel nurse2. Be inquisitive.

“Being a travel nurse is kind of like being an investigator. You need to listen and be able to ask for information so you can treat the patient. You are asking someone to refocus and balancing open- and close-ended questions to figure out why they’re at the facility and how you can help.”

Elizabeth Inderbitzen

RNnetwork ER travel nurse

JaLissa Wilson, travel nurse3. Be assertive.

“I wish I would have known all the questions to ask my recruiter before taking an assignment. While you need to be flexible and know that not everything is going to go the way you want it to, speak up if you don’t like something about your job — or if you’re drowning at work. Know how to delegate, be kind and compassionate, and love what you do. Everything else comes easy.”

JaLissa Wilson

RNnetwork NICU travel nurse

Karen O'Connor, travel nurse4. Be flexible.

“As a travel nurse, you’re there to do whatever the facility wants you to do. Sometimes I’ve had them change my assignment in the middle of a shift. Tell your recruiter if the assignment is not a good fit and ask questions of your supervisor and team, but be as open-minded and patient as possible.”

Karen O’Connor

RNnetwork trauma ICU travel nurse

Lisa Hatch, travel nurse5. Be compassionate.

“I find that compassion and empathy are often missing at hospitals, and I try to be gentle and treat my patients like I would treat my mom and dad. The hospital experience can be very frightening, so I try to be very personable and allay their fears a bit. Patients can trust that I will take good care of them , and we have a good relationship.”

Lisa Hatch

RNnetwork interventional radiology travel nurse

Nancy Skees, travel nurse6. Be positive.

“You have to have a very open mind as a travel nurse and can’t go into an assignment with preconceived notions of how it’s going to go. A crappy attitude never helps, especially when you’re witnessing very personal situations with your patients. Go with the flow and make it a point to know everyone around you and include them, such as the housekeepers and techs. You’ll make a good impression, and they’ll treat you as one of their own.”

Nancy Skees

RNnetwork ER travel nurse

Want to give it a try? Check out our open travel nursing jobs.

About the author

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Lindsay Wilcox

Lindsay Wilcox is a healthcare writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional writing experience. When she's not circling typos, she's enjoying fish tacos and hanging out with her family.

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    • Thank you, Epstein! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I had a great day speaking with those travel nurses, and I’m flattered that you stopped by and left a comment.

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