Four Tips to Adjusting as a Travel Health Nurse
By: American Nurses Association
Congratulations! You just landed a job as a travel health nurse. Now what?
Here are four tips for adjusting as a brand-new travel health nurse. Let’s take them one at a time.
- Know your job description, expectations, and duties. And for sure, know your scope of practice, and be aware of any licensure requirements. (Yes, your employer should take care of all licensing stuff. No, you cannot simply assume that they have or will.) Travel health nursing is a broad and varied specialty. To succeed in your new job, you will need to know what you are expected to know, to do, and to accomplish. Be proactive about this, so that you first performance evaluation doesn’t catch you off guard or hold any unpleasant surprises.
- Get up-to-date on knowledge. Take advantage of any and all training your employer offers. Think ahead about what you may need to know and learn how to find the information you need to know. Check out the American Nurses Association [ANA] handbook and the American Travel Nurse Association [ATHNA]materials and resources. Use your continuing education requirements wisely, and search for courses and materials that will address topics and challenges that are relevant to your work.
- Find a mentor. If you are working with experienced coworkers, you have a head start on this. However, good mentoring relationships don’t just happen. Pick out a coworker, a colleague, or a supervisor, or someone whom you’ve identified as having both the knowledge and the aptitude to help you grow. Prepare a list of questions to ask them. Think about areas in which you are struggling, or things you are uncertain about. Ask for a time to sit down and talk, preferably outside of work. Ask them the questions that you’ve prepared. Find out what they wish they had known when they started out. Probe into the complexity of what makes a good travel nurse. What are the mistakes they’ve made? What are areas of success? How did they achieve those successes? And be sure to thank your mentor, express your appreciation, and buy their coffee!
- Ask questions. Lots of questions. Don’t assume that your traveler is telling you all the relevant information about their health. Don’t assume that the list on the official website contains everything you need to know. And so on. Ask questions of your clients, of your supervisor, of everyone you talk to in the course of gathering the information and supplies that you need for the immediate need. Information and insight are your most valuable resource, and you will never have too much.
Travel nursing is a wonderful career, and you will encounter many interesting and surprising situations. Stay curious and remember that you don’t know everything. And most of all, enjoy the ride!