I don’t know about you, but doing new things can be scary. And if you’re new to the med travel game, then you may not know what to expect from your first-ever travel job. While not knowing is sometimes half the fun, it can also be a major cause of stress.
How to Prep for First-Time Travel
Before we jump into first-day job expectations, we have to make sure you're ready. So, check out these four things to do before traveling, and prepare yourself for a journey of a lifetime.
Things to do before traveling
Of course, there are some things to cross off the to-do list before you can start your dream travel job. Don’t worry — it’s all minor things like cleaning up your space, making reservations for temporary housing, and deciding how you’re going to get to your assignment. You know, the little things.
No. 1: Miscellaneous housekeeping tasks
Before you leave your home alone for 13ish weeks, make sure it’s in tip-top shape and clean up a little. Believe us, future-you will thank you. Here are some things around the house to keep in mind:
- Tidy up a smidge. The last thing you want is to come home after a long travel job to an unorganized mess. We’re not suggesting you spend hours on your hands and knees deep-cleaning every crevice of your space, but put in some effort to vacuum, make the bed, and other easy(ish) tasks.
- Clean out your refrigerator. Nothing’s worse than coming home to a stinky kitchen. Before you embark on your travel assignment, toss out old food and things that will spoil while you’re gone, and freeze anything you want to keep. A clean fridge is a happy fridge.
- Take out the trash (especially if you clean out the fridge). Even if it’s not trash day, make sure you take out the garbage before you leave. That way, you’ll return home to a clean, fresh, and trash-free space.
- Program your thermostat. If your home will be vacant while you’re away for your travel job, save on energy by programming your thermostat to an away program. If that’s not an option for you, simply adjust the thermostat to a neutral temperature.
- Ask a neighbor to collect your mail. Instead of letting your mail pile up while you’re away, phone a friend and ask a neighbor to collect it for you. That way, people are less likely to know that you’re not home, which helps keep your house secure and protected while you’re away.
Sure, it can feel like a lot of work to prep your home before leaving for a long period of time. But let us be the first to tell you it’s worth it. Think about it: tidying up is a small price to pay to ensure you have a relaxing homecoming.
No. 2: Secure temporary housing
One of the most important tasks to complete before you venture out on your travel journey is to secure temporary housing. As a professional traveler, you’ve got options! These are many popular housing options for medical travelers like yourself:
- All-inclusive housing
- Short-term apartment leases
- Furnished rental sites
- Extended stay hotels
- Van, RV, or trailer personal living
When it comes to temporary housing, it’s up to you to decide what works best for you. What expectations do you have for your housing? Do you need pet-friendly housing? Do you expect to have a queen size bed, laundry room in the same building, a kitchenette, private bathroom, a pool on the property, or a hotel room where you have a freshly made bed and clean towels put in your room daily? Make a list of all the amenities you want and then prioritize them.
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No. 3: Decide on transportation
Don’t wait until the last minute to decide how you’re going to get to your travel assignment. Instead, make a plan and stick to it. So, what will it be? Plane? Train? Car? RV?
One of the most popular travel methods for professional travelers is to road trip in their personal car, van, RV, or trailer because it allows them to have a set of wheels with them on assignment. With your own vehicle, you have the freedom to venture wherever your heart desires. Plus, it allows you to pack your stuff and bring it along on your travel journey, instead of shipping things in advance or reducing your belongings to two carry-ons and a checked bag. And if you travel in a mobile home, then you may not even need to worry about packing and unpacking — your home will be ready wherever you are.
Like anything in life, there are pros and cons to each transportation method, and it’s up for you to decide what they are. The best part is if you try one way and don’t like it, you can always choose another travel way for your second med travel assignment!
No. 4: Get licensed
You can’t work your medical magic until you’re licensed in the state you want to practice in. Unless that state doesn’t require licensing for your division and specialty, and in that case, carry on. However, that’s not ~usually~ the case for most travelers, so here’s a guide to explain everything you need to know for each state.
Here’s the thing: It can take a hot second to get licensed, depending on the type of license you’re going for, your specialty and division, and the state where you’re trying to get licensed. So, take our advice and talk to your recruiter about state licensure well in advance of embarking on your travel assignment to find out what you need to do to get it. Planning ahead of time helps you avoid scrambling at the last minute and keeps you prepared for your med travel job!
For an added pro tip: maintain two or three active state licenses at a time for more job options in multiple states. 😉
What to expect on day one of your travel job
So, here you are on your first day on the job. Now, what can you expect? Here’s the thing: you know you’re there to add value and help the permanent staff, so you can expect that the staff needs you. Luckily, you know this job inside out. The only difference is the location and the different people you’re working with. But one thing’s for sure: you’re making a difference.
On day one, you’ll arrive about 30 minutes early for orientation. Don’t worry if you feel out of place, that’s normal and comes with every first day. From there, you’ll likely be assigned any internal facility required training, meet the representative that will show you where to do your health screening, where to clock in, give you passwords for charting, and give you a tutorial on how to chart using their technology, if needed. Afterwards, your representative will take you around to show you where everything is located — don’t worry about the details, just make mental notes of where you can find a second employee to help with two assists, where the clean utility room is, the dirty utility, linens, shower rooms, and where the supplies are kept.
To say the least, you’ll be thrown a lot of information. And we mean a lot. The good news is this is nothing that you haven’t experienced before! Just think back to all your past first days — what would you change about your those experiences? What questions did you have? What’s something you did well that you want to do again? Whatever it is, write it down.
Here’s a secret: if you walk into your first day with a notebook and pen and have a list of questions, the facility will know that you take your assignment responsibilities seriously (just be sure to not write any HIPPA information in your personal notebook). Write down everyone’s names, along with a note of what they do, and maybe a simple description. That way, you’ll remember who and where your team is located.
Now that you’re all trained and knowledgeable on the important things, it’s time to hit the floor and work your magic. But before you do that, get detailed shift change information. Ask the facility if they have a cheat sheet showing residents' acuity levels, diets, do not resuscitate (DNR), diabetic, fall risk, elopement risk, and other details that involve giving patient center care. This information about each resident can be found in their chart, typically in a binder at the nurses’ station, and some facilities can print out this information for your unit, so you can give the proper care to each of your residents. Having this information will make your job easier, trust us.
From there, you know what to do. Channel your special skills and use what you’ve learned to provide the best patient care possible. Remember, your recruiter wouldn’t set you out on a travel job unless they knew you would be successful. Trust yourself and trust your experience to guide you in your first-ever travel job. We believe in you — you should believe in you, too!
Rid yourself of first-day jitters by knowing what to expect on your first day as a professional traveler. Plus, remember your travel recruiter is there for you along your journey. At the end of the day, these are the key takeaways for your first med travel job:
- Leave your home ready for when you come back
- Prepare as much as you can in advance
- Be patient with yourself as you absorb new knowledge
- Stay positive and remember why you became a professional traveler in the first place
Firsts can be tough, but we know you’re even tougher. Now that you know what to expect from your first day on the job, you can walk in feeling calm, cool, confident, and ready to improve the lives of others. Go you!