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7 Ways to Succeed as a Traveling Nurse

by Melissa Bell
5 minutes read

Being a travel nurse can be a lucrative and rewarding career. That doesn’t mean, though, that this job isn’t without its challenges. Finding success as a travel nurse takes a lot of hard work and dedication. From facing job-related tasks – like meticulous charting and patient care – to dealing with the rigors of a traveling life, it takes a special person to be a great and successful travel nurse.

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Whether you are already working as a travel nurse and are struggling or are thinking about embarking on this career path, there are several things you can do to maximize your success. From investing in nice modern scrubs that look and feel great to always being open to learning something new, here are a few ways to succeed as a traveling nurse.

Buy the Right Scrubs

Traveling from place to place and frequently working in new locations can be pretty uncomfortable. Why would you want to wear uncomfortable scrubs, too? As a traveling nurse, it just makes sense to stock up on high-quality scrubs you look and feel great in. A few nice pairs of jogger scrub pants that move with you will keep you feeling comfortable and confident no matter where the road leads you. Add in some new scrub tops, and you’re good to go.

In addition to boosting your confidence and feeling great against your skin, high-quality scrubs will withstand the rigors of frequent washing. If you feel like you need to buy new scrubs every time you get a new assignment because yours are worn out, now is a great time to stock up on some better-quality workwear.

Set Goals for Every Assignment

As a travel nurse, establishing goals is a great way to keep yourself on track. Every time you get a new assignment, consider your goals. Are you hoping to earn a lot of money, spend as much time as possible in a certain region, or something else? Defining what you want to accomplish on each assignment gives you something to work toward and a sense of purpose. It is also much easier to stay focused and feel successful when you have a clear picture of what you consider “success” in each assignment.

Take Advantage of Extensions

Sometimes, extending your contract is a smart decision that keeps money flowing in even during slower seasons. If you are working an assignment and there is an opportunity to extend your contract through a less busy season, consider taking the extension. Even if the job isn’t your favorite, taking advantage of an extension could save you from having to take a lower-paying position or be out of work during a slow season.

Be Willing to Learn

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When you are a nurse, you have to be willing to learn new things. This is especially true for traveling nurses. Working in new cities and new medical facilities means there is always something new to learn. If you want to be a successful travel nurse, you must embrace learning everything from different computer systems to how to treat issues you may not have previously encountered.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Doing so shows that you are willing to learn and allows you to continually expand your knowledge. The most successful travel nurses are the ones who are lifelong learners who are always thirsty for knowledge.

Be Flexible

If you aren’t willing to roll with the punches, being a travel nurse may not be for you. Responsibilities often change for travel nurses, and they are frequently asked to fill in gaps within medical facilities. While you shouldn’t do anything that is outside of your skillset, you may be asked to help out on a busy floor, sit with a patient, or act as a nursing assistant.

If you feel uncomfortable about something you are asked to do, be upfront. But be willing to handle the tasks that you do know how to do – even if they aren’t exactly what you expected from the assignment.

Stay Out of Hospital Politics

One of the things that many travel nurses enjoy most is that they can avoid hospital politics. Since you are not a core staff member, there is no reason for you to get involved in politics or day-to-day drama. When you don’t have to worry about things like what happens if the organization cuts PTO or what changes to benefits the hospital may make, you can focus on what matters most: caring for patients.

Be Prepared

Preparation is crucial to being a successful travel nurse. Just as Boy Scouts are always prepared for treks in the forest, travel nurses should always be prepared for whatever may await them at their new assignment. Before embarking on a career as a travel nurse, you will likely need 1-2 years of nursing experience. If you can gain even more experience than that, great. Working in a hospital or clinical setting for a few years gives you valuable general nursing experience that helps prepare you for what you may encounter as a travel nurse.

Prepare before showing up for an assignment, too. Read up on the facility where you will be working, and make sure you have everything you need. Research the area, as well, so you’ll know where to go for groceries, a tasty meal, or a great cup of coffee.

The Bottom Line

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It takes a bit of flexibility and creativity, but it is possible to build a career you love and find success as a travel nurse. Even though it may be scary, don’t let your anxieties hold you back! Life as a travel nurse is challenging, but the rewards can be incredible. In addition to helping patients and earning a lucrative income, you get to travel to different parts of the country and experience new things. If you are someone who loves learning, embraces change, and is always up for a new adventure, becoming a travel nurse could be the right path for you.

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