Traveler stories

Your First Day on Assignment as a Travel Nurse

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By Susan Schneider, contributor

When it comes to being organized, oriented and ready to hit the ground running on the first day of a new assignment, experienced travel nurses have practiced tips to share that help ensure things go as smoothly as possible.

The recruiter at your travel nursing company will help with specific orientation details for the assignments you choose to explore and help prepare you for your first day on assignment. You can also ask questions about a facility’s specific orientation procedures during your interview with the hiring manager.

Your first day on assignment will typically include a tour of the facility, an overview of policies and protocols and introductions to co-workers, many of whom will undoubtedly be new as well. On your unit, you will be provided specific information about charting, documenting, supplies, equipment and who the “resource people” are on your unit.

There is always a lot to learn and remember. Some basics help.

First of all, take your company-provided checklist with you. Ask that your recruiter or agency rep send a copy of it to your unit manager as well, so you both start out on the same page.

Make sure anyone who might need your contact information has it.

Post your contact information anywhere it is appropriate on your unit.

Take good notes and keep them with you.

Ted Dodd, RN, BSN, a traveler for more than six years, said he always liked to stay very organized and “self-contained,” and not just on the first day of assignment.

“I like to have my own report sheets printed out and ready to go so that I don’t forget to attain any important patient information when I am getting started on a unit. It’s easy to get disoriented at first. Have plenty of copies made because they like to float travel nurses. A little notebook to write down door combinations and phone numbers is useful too.”

Having lots of questions is to be expected. Your new colleagues won’t mind if you have the right attitude.

Renee Stoltz, RN, BSN, traveled for 11 years before becoming a Clinical Services Clinical Liaison for nurse staffing agency American Mobile Healthcare.

“Introduce yourself to everyone,” said Stolz. “Stay patient focused. You have a lot to learn and they want to know you’re listening and learning.”

Stoltz advises the use of diplomacy too.

“As a visitor to their facility, they really appreciate your not telling them someplace else is better or that they should do things differently.”

Dodd also stressed the importance of being a team player.

“I always made friends by offering to help with turns when I had my patients squared away. Once they know you and see that you are competent, you’ll get all the help you need.”

© 2006. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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