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6 Travel Nursing Problems You Might Face (And How to Avoid Them)

Travel Nursing ProblemsTaking a travel nursing job is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. You’re suddenly moving to a new place and working at a brand-new hospital. You may be bringing your spouse, partner or children along or traveling with a friend. And you’re living in an unfamiliar apartment and getting used to a new neighborhood. Knowing what travel nursing problems you might encounter as a travel nurse can help you plan ahead.

Here are a travel nursing problems you might face.

Travel Nursing Problem: Paperwork 

When hospitals need nurses, they need them quickly. Don’t miss out on a great assignment by not having your act together. Here’s the paperwork you’ll need to have ready:

  • RNnetwork travel nursing application
  • Skills checklist
  • Two or more reference sheets
  • Background check release form
  • Physical exam form
  • TB/PPD form
  • Hepatitis B immunization form
  • Actions and sanctions form
  • Supplemental claim form
  • Traveler affirmation
  • Copies of your licenses and certifications

Make sure you have former colleagues or supervisors who are willing to be your references and can quickly fill out the required paperwork. If your recruiter is waiting on references or any part of your paperwork, it slows down the process. It may also be harder for you to get a travel nursing job during the timeframe you requested.

Travel Nursing Problems: Car Troubles

Before you head out on the road, make sure your car is ready for a long trip and plenty of driving once you get to your destination. Take it to a mechanic for a tune-up and make sure the fluid levels are good, tires have been rotated and brakes are working well.

Then do some research and find a reliable auto shop in your new town before you start driving. If you do have car issues while you’re on your assignment, you’ll know where to go for help. Pack an emergency kit in your car as well, including a shovel, jumper cables, portable charger and blankets. It’s a good idea to keep extra clothes, a first aid kit and high-protein snacks in your trunk as well in case you’re stranded.

Travel Nursing Problems: Poor Cultural Fit

Every healthcare facility is a bit different. Make sure to get details from your recruiter about the hospital, its work environment and the culture of the area. Ask about the number of beds, the typical patient census and the nurse-to-patient ratio. These questions can help you determine whether you’ll enjoy working at the facility or not.

If you take a travel nursing job and discover it isn’t at all what you expected, tell your recruiter. He or she can help you deal with pay or scheduling issues and be a sounding board if you have a hard time getting along with a supervisor. Your recruiter can also help you find a better assignment you can head to in a few short months.

Travel Nursing Problems: An Unfamiliar EHR 

It seems every facility uses a different electronic health record system or has a different way for employees to clock in. When you’re already stressed about just navigating through a new wing of the hospital, learning a different EHR can only make things worse.

While your recruiter can’t help you master a new computer system any faster, he or she can provide details about it before you start your assignment. You can also ask coworkers for help and take notes until you’ve learned the system well enough. Don’t be hard on yourself or get frustrated when you forget some of the steps.

Travel Nursing Problems: Housing Issues

Any reputable travel staffing company should have a dedicated housing team. Ask them about your accommodations and before you leave on the assignment, make sure you know who to call if you have problems.

Once you arrive, call the housing team if there are any issues with your apartment or questions about amenities that should have been included. Let them know if you don’t feel safe or if you can’t get your TV or internet to work. They’ll work directly with the building’s maintenance crew to get everything fixed or find you a new place to stay, if necessary.

Travel Nursing Problems: Homesickness

It can be difficult to be away from your home, even for a few short months. While you might seem fine at the beginning of your travel nursing assignment, you may find yourself missing your family terribly after a few weeks.

Prevent homesickness by setting up specific days and times to call or Skype family members and friends. This gives you something to look forward to and ensures that you make time to talk when you might want to withdraw instead. Send letters or care packages to friends to surprise them, and keep a digital photo frame in your apartment so you can relive special memories with them.

Though you won’t be able to predict all challenges coming your way as a travel nurse, you can prepare for most of them and hopefully make every travel nursing job into a positive experience.

What problems did you face as a first-time travel nurse, and what did you do to solve them? Tell us in the comments below!

About the author


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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  • When I was doing clinicals the hospital we were in just re-opened their ICU after 12+ months and staffed it with 100% travel nurses. Being a small town hospital the staff found out that the travel nurses were making 200% more than they were just across the hall in the CCU where they were oriented. Things were more than a little uncomfortable that day.

  • I’ve been left stranded by the travel company I work for, my recruiter isn’t giving any information about any thing. What can I don besides just going 1000+ miles back home where there isn’t much work.

    • Hi Gregory, I’m sorry to hear about your situation. If you’re on assignment with RNnetwork, please contact the emergency hotline to connect with someone other than your recruiter: 1-877-223-5512. If you’re traveling with another agency, we recommend trying to find another contact number for someone besides your recruiter to help you out. If you’re still interested in traveling nursing and would like to find out if RNnetwork has any assignments available where you are, feel free to contact us at 1-800-866-0407. Good lucK!