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7 travel nursing tips from the pros

Tips for travel nurses

Whether you’re just thinking about travel nursing or about to embark on your first assignment, hearing from experienced travelers can help you prepare. Read on for travel nursing tips from four veteran travel nurses.

1. Find the right recruiter

Nicole Dalman, a critical care nurse, says it’s important to have a connection with your recruiter and be able to talk freely with them.

“I’ve spoken to other recruiters, and it’s like they’re reading a paragraph that’s typed in front of them. It’s not comfortable. I felt a connection with my recruiter, Sam, right away,” she says. “This is somebody you’re going to be working very closely with. If you don’t feel anything, you should probably find a different recruiter — regardless of what they have to offer you — because it won’t work.”

2. Make a list (and check it twice)

ICU nurse Debbie Porter recommends writing down everything you need for credentialing for your next assignment and creating two different packing lists.

“Write down everything you still have packed from your last assignment so you don’t double-pack,” she says. “Then make a new list of everything that you need to take with you. Take one suitcase for your clothes, and then pack your other things.”

3. Be flexible on every assignment

Emergency room nurse Kristine Wadley says she likes to remember that she’s a guest in the hospital as a traveler.

“You have to go by what the hospital’s policies and procedures are. You’re not there to tell them how to fix their system. Go with the flow, and be very open-minded and willing,” she says. “I walk in with a good attitude and decide to be positive. If they tell me I need to do something, I just do it.”

4. Plan ahead to make any situation work for traveling

Even if it may seem impossible with your situation, you can make travel nursing jobs happen if you start early and work with your recruiter.

“People say, ‘Oh, I can’t travel. I have pets.’ Well, I took a dog and a cat, and it can be done with the right amount of planning and an extra list for the animals,” Debbie says. “People say, ‘Oh, I can’t do it. I have kids.’ Well, you can take summer contracts. With the right amount of planning, you can travel and do a lot of different things.”

5. Reach out to others everywhere you go

Connecting with people throughout the country while working as a travel nurse is Kristine’s favorite part of travel nursing.

“Over the years I’ve made tons of friends from all over the United States that I’m friends with on Facebook. It’s great to see I’ve become involved in so many people’s lives, and I love staying in touch with them,” she says. “You’ll find you make friends wherever you go.”

6. Expand your clinical experience

Nicole says she’s grateful for the opportunities to learn new skills, no matter where she’s working.

“Every state is different in how they treat patients, so you get to experience different things,” she says. “When you leave your home state, it’s like relearning how to be a nurse — except you have the experience. Education is always important.”

7. Rely on your intuition

 Shauna Hensley, an operating room nurse, says listening to her own intuition helped her find a recruiter and the right travel nursing job.

“In general, I believe you always have to trust your gut. Your gut is going to tell you yes or no,” she says. “It’s not going to try to talk you into things or out of things. It’s not going to confuse you.”

Want more travel nursing tips? See how these five RNnetwork travelers advanced their careers, and explore the latest travel nurse openings now.

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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