Did you just receive your latest travel nursing assignment? Congratulations! A new career adventure is about to begin. 

Even if you are an experienced travel nurse and are excited about the new location, you might also be a little anxious. A travel nurse’s first day can be a little nerve-racking, but that’s completely normal.  

While every hospital or facility is different, there are a few things you can generally anticipate. Keep reading because we will look at what you can expect on your first day in your new facility. 

In this article, you will learn: 

  • What happens on your first day as a travel nurse
  • A few tips for a successful first day
  • And much more


first day as a travel nurse


Table of Contents



Feeling Accomplished on Your First Day: Travel Nurse Pre-Reqs 

That first day in a new place as a travel nurse may be your first day, but it’s probably not anyone else’s. It’s as if you have arrived at a party that has already begun.

How do you get your bearings and make sure you can contribute quickly? 

Preparation is key for your first day. Travel nurse assignments begin with knowing what to expect.


Read Your First Day Instructions Carefully

When it comes to that first week’s schedule, the only thing you can plan on is the first day’s instructions.

First-day instructions are just that — no further guidelines will be provided. They will generally tell you where to show up and when to arrive, but that’s likely all you’ll initially get.

Be aware that it is not uncommon for you to receive your first-day instructions only a couple of days before the start of your working week. For example, you may get them the Friday before you start on a Monday.

There’s a good chance you will be traveling to the new destination when you receive your instructions, so keep an eye on your email and voicemail. 


Prepare for Your First Day Beforehand

Preparation and planning are the keys to a successful first day. One of the first things you can do is ensure you have ordered the right scrubs for your new facility. 

Another great idea is to practice the route to your new facility a day or two before your first shift. This way you can familiarize yourself with: 

  • The commute
  • Any current construction
  • Parking; or 
  • How long it takes to get to onsite from the nearest public transit stop

Be prepared for your first day and lay out these things the night before you start your shift:

  • The clothing you’ll wear
  • Any paperwork needed by the facility (e.g., certificates, first-day paperwork, etc.)
  • Equipment such as your stethoscope
  • A bag or purse with personal items (e.g., wallet, keys, etc.)
  • Water bottle and packed lunch
  • A notebook and pen
  • Any medicines you might take; and
  • Anything else you will need in the morning

On your first day, you should arrive early. You will be less stressed if you run into traffic or snags, plus you will look dependable and prompt. A positive first impression will benefit you in the future.

Let’s end with the most common-sense advice: get a good night’s sleep — or a day’s sleep if you are a night-shift nurse — and eat a healthy meal before your first shift. Make sure you get a good eight hours of sleep, maybe even more if you recently changed time zones    


travel nursing first day


What Happens on Your First Day as a Travel Nurse?

Depending on the facility, the first day as a travel nurse will vary.

On your first day, you might: 

  • Attend a hospital orientation
  • Go directly to your unit; or
  • Receive charting classes specific to your facility 

In the following sections, we will look closely at these events. 


Facility Orientation


3 Tips for Making the Most of Your Orientation

The orientation process for travel nurses is very unpredictable. It won’t be anything like “normal” hospital orientation, so come prepared to pay attention and learn a lot!

When it comes to orientation, the most important thing to remember is to ask questions whenever you need to. 


#1: Be Aware That Procedures May Vary Greatly From Facility to Facility

Since policies and procedures vary from facility to facility, you will need to pay close attention to everything during orientation — no matter how much experience you have. 

Orientation is a great time to ask questions about everything from the electronic health record system to workflow to where to park on campus (if you don’t already know). 

Orientations for travel nurses will vary depending on your facility and position. The orientation process usually takes 1-2 days, but you should be informed by your recruiter or first-day information paperwork of the expected duration ahead of time. 


#2: Be Prepared

During orientation, be prepared to listen and take in a lot of information very quickly. Bring a pen and notebook and take plenty of notes!

Additionally, every nursing orientation will require a few go-to documents to confirm your identity and skills and input your information into the hospital’s administrative system. For the duration of your nursing orientation, you need to carry the following:

  • Driver’s license
  • A backup official photo ID like a passport
  • BLS and ACLS cards
  • Your current, valid nursing license
  • Any other current nursing certifications

It’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t a definitive list. Your facility might require additional documentation not listed, and the only way to know for sure is to reach out and ask. 


#3: Be Receptive

There can be a lot of differences between healthcare facilities. Not just … 

  • Management styles
  • Processes; and 
  • Resources

… but also dynamics in the workplace and the local cultures. 

You’ll learn more than you ever imagined when you’re open to new ideas and are willing to get out of your comfort zone.


travel nurse first day


Unit Introduction

You’ll be working with, or shadowing, a nurse preceptor during your unit orientation. A nurse preceptor is an experienced nurse who will work with you during this time. 

The unit orientation usually includes a tour of where you will work and an introduction to your coworkers. 

You only have a limited time for unit orientation, so take advantage of it! 

Depending on your preceptor’s schedule, you may have a full day with them or maybe a partial day awaiting hospital orientation or computer classes. Orientation on the actual unit can last anywhere from a few days to a week or more, depending on your job and your ability to adjust.


Computer Charting Training

Not every facility will have this. Some still use paper charting, and if you already have experience with computer charting this may be a brief training. 

Suppose you are familiar with electronic medical records. In that case, your class will likely be an abbreviated version so you can learn the specifics of charting in your particular area or get a refresher.

You likely aren’t brand new to electronic medical records — but if so, you may receive a whole day’s worth of class or even more extended depending on your needs.

And speaking of your needs, you can feel confident that Trusted Nurse Staffing is looking out for you every step of the way. 

Not only will we help you find your dream assignment, but we will also support you at each step. 

If you’re ready to experience a day in the life of a travel nurse for yourself, Trusted Nurse Staffing would love to help. 




First Day Etiquette for Interacting With New Colleagues as a Travel Nurse

When you meet the staff at your new facility, be friendly and confident. It will make a great first impression, regardless of the facility and team you will be working with.

Don’t discuss things like your pay, hours, or anything else that could lead to tension among permanent employees. Also, never try to change something right away or discuss how you did things at your previous facility. It can create an adversarial relationship with permanent staff.

Remember to be respectful of their “home,” and don’t forget you are a guest!


3 Additional Tips To Help Your First Day as a Travel Nurse Go Smoothly


 #1: Be on Time

Being late is one of the easiest ways to make a lousy impression immediately. 

Be sure to plan out your route to the hospital and leave with enough time to prepare for heavy traffic or construction on the way. 

If you get to your new destination early enough, you may want to do a test run to ensure you won’t get lost.


#2: Have a Positive Attitude

The hospital or facility hired you because it needed help with staffing, so you might arrive and find nurses who are stressed out. Try not to add to that stress. Once you arrive at your unit, offer to help wherever possible as soon as possible. 

Additionally, have a positive attitude! No one wants a “new nurse” to be grumpy and complain on their first day. Everyone loves a team player.


#3: Be Patient and Flexible

Keep in mind that you are there to work — even though your assignment is a great opportunity to travel and explore, a travel nurse’s job isn’t a vacation. Medical facilities have used your travel staffing service to find someone like you because they urgently need your skills. 

When you show up on your first day, it might be chaotic, but being …

  • Patient
  • Flexible; and 
  • Ready to work 

… will make a positive impression on your new facility.  


Hit the Ground Running on Your First Day as a Travel Nurse in a New Facility With Trusted Nurse Staffing

A travel nurse can benefit from being prepared for their first day at a new facility, but having the right staffing agency by their side can be even more beneficial. 

At Trusted Nurse Staffing, we are committed to supporting our nurses’ dreams and goals. 

We are honored to offer: 

  • Flexibility in working hours
  • Competitive pay
  • 24/7 availability
  • Stipends for housing, meals, etc. 
  • Bonuses
  • Insurance benefits
  • And so much more

Contact us today. You can even use your smartphone! We’re ready to help you live a life full of adventure.