Beginning a career as a travel clinician can be both exciting and frightening. Hearing about some of the mistakes seasoned travelers commit when first starting out, you realize that plenty of us have made the same ones. Here are 5 mistakes that seem to happen to nearly every new travel clinician.
1. Skimming through your contract
Your contract is the most important document of your travel assignment; read it carefully before you sign. Check for completeness and accuracy, including your assignment dates, pay rate, travel reimbursements, shift hours, bonus requirements, requested time off, any special agreements, etc. Your recruiter should be able to answer any questions you have, and make corrections if necessary.
Over-packing is a common mistake for new travel clinicians, but you’ll quickly learn the benefits of a more minimalist lifestyle. First, find out what’s included in your furnished housing. Then, be smart about your wardrobe: think layers and pieces that can serve multiple purposes. Research the average temps for your new home during the time you’ll be there and pack accordingly. Bring just the essentials plus a few touches of home, like cherished photos or your favorite cozy blanket.
3. Not asking enough questions
If you feel like you’re walking around your assignment facility with a visible question mark over your head, that’s normal! Just don’t forget to verbalize the things you really need to know. Every travel clinician who starts in a new facility and a new unit has to learn where things are, who to call, what procedures to follow in certain situations, etc.
Even after your orientation, there will be times you need to ask for guidance, so make friends with your preceptor or other staff contact. Asking questions does not make you look incompetent, but the mistakes that could follow from not asking might.
4. Bringing your work home
Every clinician has difficult patient cases, and everyone makes mistakes. If you’ve upset by a poor outcome, or you are part of a near miss or medical mistake, stop and notify your manager. Stay and debrief if necessary, then try to let it go.
And trust the employees on the next shift to take care of your patients. When you walk through your front door, take a deep breath and mentally leave your shift behind. This will help you achieve the life balance you need to be a successful travel clinician.
5. Charting errors
All clinicians have made a charting error at one time or another and traveling clinicians can be even more likely to make this mistake, because they’re always having to learn new record systems.
Depending on the facility, it seems like the initial orientation to the electronic medical record system is only as long as one class. With only having a few hours to learn a foreign charting system, some clinicians chart in the wrong section, failing to document the completion of a task appropriately.
If this occurs with medications, the next shift will not be aware which could cause some serious problems. Do whatever you can to make the most of your orientation by taking notes or repeating what you learn out loud. Remember, it’s only weird if it doesn’t work.
APPLY for travel nursing jobs today to get started on your travel adventure!