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If you’re just getting into travel nursing, you may be nervous about how you can plan to make each job the best experience possible. Luckily for you, we have tons of advice for travel nursing newbies.

Whether you have questions about what to take with you, how to get the best jobs, or which agency will help you the most — you can find the answers here.

Check out our top 12 list of things to do before you start travel nursing.

 

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How Do You Prepare To Be a Traveling Nurse?

Getting ready for your travel nursing assignment doesn’t have to be overwhelming; it mainly takes organization and flexibility. Of course, you’ll need to:

  • Make decisions about the specialty and part of the country you want to work in
  • Secure housing; and
  • Nail down your contract

But there are other things to do before travel nursing you may not have considered, and they’re just as vital when planning for success in each new job.

Keep reading for what we consider the most important things to do before beginning your next travel nursing assignment.

 

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The Most Important Things To Do Before Travel Nursing Assignments

It’s common for travel nurses to make mistakes along their journey when they don’t plan and think things through or if they don’t have the support of the right travel nursing agency.

Trusted Nurse Staffing wants you to be prepared at every step, so we’ve compiled this list of things to do before you start travel nursing to help you plan your journey the right way.

 

#1: Decide the Area of Nursing You Want To Work In

One of the biggest benefits of travel nursing — besides, well, the travel — is having the ability to learn and grow in different fields and specialties. You can try out different nursing roles to see which ones you enjoy the most while pumping up your resume at the same time.

But being a travel nurse doesn’t mean you must always work in different specialties. Many medical facilities look for travel nurses who specialize in certain areas or have experience in specific fields.

For example, if you think you’d like pediatric nursing, try it out for a year to gain experience. Then you’ll be able to travel to areas that need more pediatric nurses because of your specialized skills.

 

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#2: Get Your Certifications in Order

Find out if you need any specialty certifications to practice in your desired field. You may not, but getting them will help you stand out if you’re competing for desired jobs around the country.

You also want to make sure the following certifications are up to date:

  • Your nursing license
  • Your BLS (Basic Life Support) certification
  • ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) certification if you will be working in the ICU or with adults
  • PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) certification if you plan to work with children

You may also need special certification or licensure by endorsement depending on which state you plan to travel nurse in.

Make sure you know how to quickly access these items to show proof of your licensing, whether in digital or paper form.

 

#3: Gain Nursing Experience 

Since nursing tends to be a demanding career, most travel nursing agencies require you to gain experience and learn the basics before sending you out on assignments. You can usually expect to work as a nurse for a year before you’re able to start travel nursing, but many facilities require two years of experience to hire you.

In addition to making sure you have your nursing skills down pat, gaining experience gives you more chances to:

  • Take charge of multiple patients
  • Work with providers; and
  • Prioritize your daily duties

This not only helps you gain confidence but also shows agencies and facilities that they can count on you.

 

#4: Learn All You Can About Travel Nursing

How do you learn about travel nursing if you’ve never done it before?

There are several ways you can go about this. Talking to coworkers on your floor or in your facility who are experienced travel nurses is a great way to get the down-low on all you can expect from this new adventure.

Asking your recruiter what to expect is another great way to get information. They have helped tons of travel nurses navigate this path and will have lots of advice for you.

You can also learn from other travel nurses via blogs, podcasts, and social media groups. A few popular and helpful travel nursing blogs you may want to check out include:

 

before travel nursing

 

#5: Choose the Right Agency 

Not all travel nursing agencies are the same! Do your research and make sure you’re signing up with one that has your best interests in mind.

Some recruiters will try to get pushy and make you commit right away, but it’s best for you to explore your options since many travel nursing agencies differ in their benefits, procedures, and assignment quality.

With Trusted Nurse Staffing, we always look out for our nurses. And our benefits packages are some of the most competitive in the industry, including such perks as:

  • High pay rates
  • 401(k) plans
  • Housing, meal, and travel allowances
  • Blue Cross & Blue Shield insurance
  • Bonuses
  • And much more

 

#6: Choose Your Location

Travel nursing is a fantastic way to see parts of the country you’ve never experienced before. 

Make a goal list of your top destinations. When you’re first starting out, you may need to accept assignments that aren’t at the head of your list. But that’s okay! Once you gain experience, you’ll be more able to pick and choose where you’d like to go.

Plus, no matter where you end up, there are always new things to see and do — as well as additional skills you’ll gain along the way to make you a better nurse.

 

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#7: Consider Your Transportation

Once you’ve decided where you’re going, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to get there. 

If your new job is across the country from your home base, flying there may make more sense. On the other hand, driving means you can take more belongings with you.

If your assignment is somewhere like Manhattan, having a car won’t be very practical. But if you’re in a more rural area without much public transportation, you’ll probably need a vehicle.

If you’re in an area where you can walk everywhere, it may make more sense and be more budget-friendly just to use a rideshare service when you need to travel farther than your feet can take you.

 

#8: Build a Savings Account

If an emergency occurs or unexpected expenses come up when you are travel nursing, it may put you in more of a bind than it would if you were at home with friends and family around to rely on.

Having a cushion in your savings account will give you peace of mind about anything you’ll need to pay extra for, especially while you’re waiting for your first paycheck or reimbursements from your travel nursing company.

 

#9: Understand Your Contract 

Never sign a contract without reading it and making sure you understand it first. Contracts may be slightly different for each job, so don’t make any assumptions from one assignment to the next.

Some of the most important things you should look for in your contract include:

  • The agreed-upon pay rate
  • Guaranteed hours
  • Explanation of benefits
  • Housing, travel, and meal allowances
  • Etc.

And don’t forget to check the floating policy. If you aren’t comfortable being assigned to a certain unit, ask your travel nursing agency to write that into your contract.

 

#10: Review Your Health Coverage

Know where to go for medical treatment and what is covered by your health insurance before the need arises.

Make sure you know the answer to these questions:

  • Which doctors or other healthcare providers are in your network?
  • Which hospitals can you use?
  • Are walk-in clinics or urgent care facilities preferred?
  • Do you have access to telehealth services?

Your insurance company’s website is usually a great place to find these answers, or you may want to call their customer service line for more specific questions.

 

things to do before travel nursing

 

#11: Research Your New Neighborhood

Once you figure out where you’ll be living during your travel nursing assignment, it’s time to make the most of it.

Hit up Yelp for a list of the most popular restaurants in the area. Join an area group on social media to get the inside scoop. Research nearby community centers where you can connect with your new neighbors.

Be sure to make a list of all the places you’d like to visit while you’re there. You can put them in order of priority in case you don’t have time to get to everything.

You may also want to arrive at your new place a little early so you can get the lay of the land, sightsee, or find the best hiking paths.

 

#12: Learn How To Pack Properly

You definitely want to bring some pieces of home with you while you’re away — just don’t try to pack up the whole house!

Less is more when it comes to packing for a travel nursing assignment. You don’t want to be bogged down with excessive clothing and belongings. Make a list of just the essentials, then add in the items you can’t live without.

Consider how long your assignment is and where you’ll be located. If the climate is extreme or you’ll experience a change of seasons while you’re there, you’ll need more options.

Other tips for smart packing include:

 

Ready To Hit the Road as a Travel Nurse? Trusted Nurse Staffing Can Help You Find and Prepare for Your Next Assignment 

One of the first things you should do before travel nursing is to create your free profile with Trusted Nurse Staffing. This will give you access to top recruiters, the best jobs available, and competitive pay and benefits.

A career in travel nursing means you have more time to do whatever else it is you love, and we’d like to help you reach that goal. With flexible contracts in all 50 states, a career with Trusted Nurse Staffing means finding your dream job — on your own terms.

 

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