Where To Go On Your First Travel Nurse Assignment

Adventurous Woman at the edge of a cliff is looking at a beautiful landscape view in the Canyon

Do you have a bucket list of destinations you would love to see? For many nurses, having complete control over their next travel destination is one of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of travel nursing. There are few other positions as an RN where you can uproot yourself and explore new and unique locations while still making a livable wage. 

Travel nursing gives you the freedom and flexibility to decide when and where you want to work, and you get to “try on” new locations as you travel to see if they fit your vibe. The opportunities and experiences with travel nursing are endless, but there’s one hiccup that often gets in the way of first-time travelers: choosing your first assignment. Here are some secrets to success in landing your first travel assignment!

  • Communicate with your recruiter early in the process about where you’d like to go. Keep an ongoing list of destinations you would like to visit. Then, take that a step further and list specific facilities where you would like to work. While you might not land that dream job for your very first assignment, your recruiter will guide you to getting the assignments that will help you achieve your career and destination goals. They’ll let you know all of the possibilities for your first assignment and have you weigh your options. 
  • Stay open minded. While you want to identify your must-haves and deal-breakers for your contracts, being flexible on location will make it easier to get your first assignment. Thirteen weeks in a location may seem like a long time, but trust me, it flies by before you know it. Some of my favorite experiences were in places I didn’t expect to love so much!
  • Make getting the required license a priority. The licensing process takes time. Many hospitals will require that you have your license in hand before they accept you as a candidate to submit to an assignment. I wouldn’t want a license issue to keep you from getting started.
  • Choose a facility similar to where you worked as a staff nurse, at least regarding the type of unit and the number of beds. You will be in a new town, a new hospital, and on a new unit working with new staff. All this newness could be overwhelming for your first assignment, so it’s best to stick with a facility that seems a little more familiar. You need to be comfortable and confident for success.
  • There are so many destinations for travel nurses, but if it’s your first time, perhaps pick a somewhat familiar city. It may make your transition a little easier for your first assignment if you don’t travel too far from home, but make sure you understand the tax implications for taking an assignment close to home. 
  • Don’t overcommit yourself! There are so many adjustments at the beginning of your travel nurse journey. Work an amount of hours that you are used to at your home hospital. You don’t want to be locked into working a bunch of overtime, and you will likely have the option to pick up extra hours at your discretion. One of the best perks of travel nursing is exploring a new exciting city when you aren’t at work, so taking some time to enjoy yourself and your surroundings is incredibly important.

Getting that first assignment is vital because many hospitals prefer travelers to have previous travel nursing experience. However, once you get that first assignment, the list of job opportunities expands. Happy traveling!

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