Scared to travel? Tackle your travel nursing fears this spooky season.
by Jackie Circkirillo | October 12, 2021
We won’t sugar coat it—travel nursing is a scary and demanding field, no matter how much experience you’ve had.
Many nurses won’t even consider entering the field because of this common sentiment: fear!
The truth is, it’s scary letting go of a staff nurse position and jumping into travel. It can feel like you’re putting so much at risk. Even if you’re an experienced travel nurse who’s been traveling for years, there are so many questions, worries, and reasons not to sign the next contract. But once you get past the fears and misconceptions, travel nursing is a very exciting career path with many benefits (higher pay, flexible schedules, and freedom to travel, to name a few).
Let’s address some common travel nursing fears and our favorite tips for coping with them:
1. “I’m afraid I won’t be able to acclimate to each new city.”
Moving can be a terrifying process for anyone, but most people don’t move to new locations sight unseen several times a year like travel nurses do. Acclimating to a new environment takes time, but there are many ways you can speed up the process.
- Spend time researching the area, especially any attractions you’ll want to see before your assignment ends. This will help you focus on the fun and adventure you’ll get to have in your new location.
- Choose a familiar location – the choice is ALWAYS yours. You can choose to go somewhere you’ve been before or somewhere you have friends or family. Familiar faces can help alleviate some of your anxieties surrounding a new place.
- If you have the option, choose a home base that suits your standards and where you’ll be most comfortable. That means something different for everyone, whether it’s an extended stay hotel, Airbnb, VRBO, or friend’s house. Wherever you choose to stay, make comfort a priority.
- Arrive at least two days early to map out your route, shops, and anything else that is important. You can also use this time to unpack, unwind, and read over any instructions your recruiter provided, so you’re prepared and calm on your first day.
2. “I’m afraid I won’t find consistent work and not make enough money.”
Your travel nursing experience can be as carefully planned or as impromptu as you want it to be. From our experience, finding work won’t be a problem. At Mindseeker, we have over 1,000 open travel nurse positions available all over the country. Remember, there are many resources out there to help inform you on opportunities and job sites and to help secure the best possible strategy for you.
- Ask other travel nurses about their experiences. Identifying a support system to whom you can go with questions and concerns is essential to a successful travel nursing career. You may already have travel nurses in your circle; but if not, there are many helpful groups out there—including Mindseeker’s Travel Nurse Facebook group—that are great places to ask questions and start discussions.
- Find a supportive recruiter you trust to guide you along the way. They can help get you lined up with your next gig before you know it. They’ll also keep sending opportunities your way as long as you want. Whatever agency you choose to work with, your recruiter should always work on your behalf.
- Plan your next assignment ahead of time. The earlier on in your current assignment you do this, the better (and the more at ease you’ll feel). This could mean extending your current assignment or moving on to another state. And don’t try to figure out the details alone. Leverage the partnership you have with your recruiter and work through factors such as state licensing together. Your stress levels will thank you for it!
- Emphasize your worth but know the value of flexibility. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has stricken the healthcare industry. You’ve seen it all firsthand. Many higher paying contracts were cancelled, and you may not be able to start making as much as you’d expect. Instead of saying ‘no’ to the opportunities out there, make the most of what they have to offer. It could lead you into something new, enhancing your skillsets and building long-term relationships along the way.
3. “I’m afraid my new unit won’t like me, and I won’t make any friends.”
Loneliness in travel nursing is real, but it can be alleviated. If you’re afraid of fitting in at your next job site, there are ways to ease the initial culture shock and make the duration of your assignment more enjoyable.
- You don’t have to go it alone. Consider traveling with a buddy and share the adventure. From our experience, we’ve seen many a travel nurse crew jump from contract to contract together.
- Try to get to know the people you work with, even if you’ll only be there for 13 weeks. We’re sure we don’t need to tell you how to make friends, but try to find out what you have in common with your coworkers. Consider asking them out for a cup of coffee before or after a shift or make plans to hang out outside of your regular workday.
- Be confident, but also be patient and humble. Remember – they’re getting to know you just like you’re getting to know them. You’re a stranger in their home camp. It’s normal for them to have hesitations about you. Don’t take it personally, it will pass.
- Be a helping hand. Believe it or not, they do need you there, or else why would you have been hired? With nursing shortages at an unprecedented high nationwide, your help is highly valuable and welcome.
4.“I’m afraid I won’t be good enough.”
First of all, you ARE good enough – you got the job, didn’t you? You’ve already made it through the interview process where your skills were evaluated, and you were deemed at least good enough. You were hand selected from hundreds (maybe even thousands) of applicants. Someone saw something in you, and they chose you.
- Be kind to yourself. This is a challenging position for anyone to be in. You don’t need to make it harder by comparing yourself to others or putting yourself down.
- Don’t drown in all the details. Trust your instincts. Anything you don’t already know you can learn along the way.
- Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions – and you may have a lot of them. Asking questions, no matter how many, will help ease your mind and help you adapt to the way your new unit operates. They’ll appreciate the effort you put into observing their processes.
If you’re still nervous, remember: each assignment is only temporary. If there’s ever something you don’t like about an assignment, you can use that to inform your next move. There’s going to be a learning curve, but with a good recruiter and reliable support system, you’ll always have someone to bounce concerns off as they pop up.
There will be good times and bad—every job comes with a little risk. Don’t let that stop you from pursuing what could be the adventure of a lifetime. Take the risk. Try something new. You’ll only become a better nurse, person, and professional for it.