a travel nurse laughing about the mistakes she made as a new traveler

5 Common Mistakes New Travel Nurses Make

Sep 29, 2022

Starting a new job is always a bit frightening, and mistakes are bound to happen. What’s important is that you learn from them, compile your own tips, tricks, and hacks, and be kind to yourself along the way.

If you’re looking for a few pointers before diving into traveling, here are five of the most common mistakes we’ve seen new travelers make and suggestions for avoiding them.

1. Not fully understanding contracts

Always be aware of your options. Making the switch or jumping into travel nursing can be both exciting and overwhelming. This combination of butterflies can lead many new nurses to overshare their lack of other options, lowering the odds of customizing their contracts. Likewise, jitters may have travelers skimming their contracts, leaving them with questions or issues with the terms and agreements later in their assignments.

How to avoid this mistake: Read everything and ask questions. Look for sections that discuss missed-hours penalties, your untaxed income, contract violations, and more. If anything, always look at the compensation package and assignment guidelines. The more familiar you are with your contract, the fewer surprises you’ll encounter on the road. If you must, find a lawyer with experience working with travel nurses to review the contract before you agree to any commitment.

2. Not seriously considering the housing process

This is one genre that honestly has many offshoots, but there are two that are the most prevalent in housing conundrums. One is procrastinating when taking the option to find housing on your own. Travel nurses often opt to find their own accommodation, thinking they can find something reasonably priced and keep the remaining funds. However, some make the mistake of underestimating how long it can take to find housing, rushing to find anywhere at all.

How to avoid this mistake: Start your housing search ASAP or take agency housing for your first assignment, getting to know the housing options for the next time you’re assigned in or around that location.

Secondly, new nurses might misjudge how much space they actually need while on the road. If someone jumps into traveling, they might choose the amount of space they’ve been used to— but then realize they’re overpaying for what they don’t use.

How to avoid this mistake: Factor in your lifestyle before deciding how much room you need. Do you need room to unwind and spread out or just a crash pad to shower and sleep because you’d rather be out exploring? If it’s the latter, you might not mind a small apartment for a few weeks since you can then focus on spending money on the things you’re excited about.

3. Not being prepared for Compliance

Never forget to take the time to compile essential details – especially concerning paperwork and licensing. A prevalent mistake among new nurses is not having things in order or on hand when going through the compliance process.

How to avoid this mistake: Make sure your state nursing license is ready, your credentials and other documentation are current, and you’ve done all required training and tests before deadlines. Also, knowing who your supervisor will be and what floor you’ll be working on can be good information to have in advance.

4. Excessive negativity on social media

It’s standard job searching advice to lock down your social profiles, but that’s not enough when looking for an allied or travel nurse job. If you’re in any travel Facebook groups or other forums, know that there are usually recruiters in those groups. Remember that anyone on social media can take a screenshot of a post in a group and spread it around, so before you talk negatively about a recruiter, a company, or a facility, understand that these groups aren’t entirely as private as you might think.

This doesn’t mean you can’t be honest when you have feedback or concerns. Just realize that social media may not be the best venue for your complaints.

How to avoid this mistake: Basically, if you wouldn’t say it to someone in person, don’t put it on social media.

5. Not asking for help 

Travel nurses are expected to be experts in the field— we’ve even said it before: they need to hit the ground running. However, this mentality can lead new nurses to abstain from asking questions out of fear of looking inexperienced or incompetent. However, not asking for help from coworkers or advisors might place you at risk of making serious medical errors that could potentially endanger a patient’s life.

How to avoid this mistake: Banish every inkling of doubt about whether seasoned nurses are unwilling to help or not. No one is perfect— no matter how seasoned. If you have a concern or question, reach out for help. Ideally, you want to find a mentor who will guide you through the various situations you’ll encounter as a travel nurse. These opportunities will only make you a better traveler.

GetMed Staffing is here to guide you

Our team is here for you whether you want to transition from permanent placement, are entirely new, or it’s simply time to add another assignment to your list. Healthcare professionals are more in-demand than ever, and with an increasing number of open positions, travelers can expect to earn more financially and reap the benefits of more flexibility. Don’t let the fear of mistakes keep you from doing what you love. Contact us today!