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With exciting destinations across the country and high paying assignments, many new nurses are eager to start their travel nursing careers as soon as possible. But even with all the perks, being a travel nurse is demanding and requires the organization and level-headedness that comes with experience. Below are some tips on the best ways for recent nursing school graduates to get started in travel nursing.
How Soon Can I Start?
At TNAA, we require all new travelers to have at least one year of staff nursing experience. This requirement is enforced by The Joint Commission, and you should find the same rule at every travel agency. This first year of experience is extremely important to develop a solid understanding of the basics of nursing, as well as learn how to become highly organized, take on multiple patients, understand hospital policies and procedures, work with multiple doctors, and get the overall “feel” of the unit on which you work.
Many nursing schools recommend MedSurg experience for a nurse’s first year. Because it’s not specialized, this unit offers great exposure to all kinds of patients and really lets nurses learn the most important basic skills. If possible, spend your first year in a larger hospital as you will have the opportunity to learn much more there versus a small facility.
How Can I Prepare for a Career in Travel Nursing?
Even if you’re still gaining the experience you need to be a travel nurse, there are several things you can do to make yourself the most desirable candidate possible. First, try to get as many certifications as possible. For example, are you required to get a BLS? Get an ACLS also. All certifications will make you stand out, even if they aren’t a requirement.
Also, float to as many units as possible. This will help you gain important experience in two ways. First, it will help you get accustomed to working on several different units. Second, it will allow you to think more quickly on your feet and get ready for the hectic, always changing environment of travel nursing. Plus, floating looks great on an aspiring travel nurse’s resume and makes you a stronger, better nurse overall.
Take every opportunity to practice flexibility in your first year. Be flexible about your schedule, pick up extra shifts on your own and different units, and be open to working some of the major holidays.
Another thing that can make a new nurse’s experience really stand out is being active in the nursing community outside of working hours. Look for hospital committees dedicated to the study and improvement of different elements of the nursing floor and join up or even take a leadership role. Outside the hospital, volunteer your time at flu shot or blood pressure clinics, or other community health initiatives.
When Should I Apply?
Although you can’t begin your first assignment until you’ve completed one year of experience as a staff nurse, we can start building your profile much sooner. As soon as you have 8-10 months of experience, feel free to apply with TNAA and our recruitment team can begin working with you to fully build your travel nurse profile and determine the best assignments for your needs.
Ready to get started? Click here to apply.