Travel Nursing

How travel nursing makes a more confident nurse!

February 2, 2023
Nelly Yousufzai, RN

Travel safe and smart. Always prepare to learn!

Is it terrifying to enter a new hospital and/or unit with an only few days, sometimes, few HOURS of orientation? Absolutely.

3 years ago, I landed in a rural town north of BC for my very first assignment. Within the same day of orientation, I was asked to stay the extra 4 hours to help on the floor, and that’s about all the orientation I received. BOOM - my shift had started.

Travel nurses are expected to be adaptable and confident in their skills when arriving on assignment. There’s a bit of a domino effect when it comes to this trait. If it wasn’t for my first contract throwing me to the wolves, or my second contract having me manage mental health, surgical and LTC patients all on the same ward and so on and so forth, I would not be the nurse I am today. These experiences are what makes me arrive on a unit cool as a cucumber - not that I’ve seen it all, but I’ve seen enough ☺.

The domino effect - you adapt, learn, and become a confident, knowledgeable nurse as a result.

The education that has come with travel nursing is my FAVOURITE benefit of this career. I have gained more knowledge in the nursing field during my time travel nursing then I could’ve ever imagined. Sometimes I surprise myself with what I know!

Below I’ve listed some of my favourite topics that I’ve learned thus far:

  1. Cardioversion/Cardiac arrhythmia management
  2. Trauma Nursing
  3. Procedural sedation
  4. Addictions pain management
  5. Indigenous patient-care
  6. Peritoneal dialysis

Prepare to learn:

  • Walk into a contract with an open mind and eagerness to become a better nurse.
  • Ask a lot of questions! This is your first time on the floor; every hospital and every unit have a different way of doing things (and sometimes it’s better).
  • Sit in on info sessions if the unit/health authority is offering it, take advantage of study halls and conferences!
  • Certify yourself prior to arriving on contract - BLS, PICC line dressing changes, ACLS, TNCC, palliative comfort care. There are endless certifications that come in handy, and not all are costly.

Share your knowledge:

Over time, you will get to experience more than the average nurse due to the exposure of new opportunities from unit to unit. Did I ever think I would learn peritoneal dialysis on my first contract ever? No. Do I remember this skill still to this day? Of course!

My evolving knowledge allows me to be a helping hand for the next nurse who will be new to the skill.

Offer to teach, if warranted, when you think there is a safer way to complete a task/skill. Discuss best practice or tips/tricks with your coworkers, you never know when someone could use your experience to improve their own practice (or vice versa)!

Be safe:

As aforementioned, remember that you are there to be adaptable and knowledgeable in your skills. Most importantly, the confident nurses aren’t afraid to say:

“I don’t know this; I haven’t done this before.”

No matter how many years you’ve got under your belt, nursing has an infinite number of skills/topics, and you will never be able to master them all. Be prepared to state when you’re new to something. At the end of the day you are there to help, not hurt. Always, always ask for assistance when you’re out of your scope of knowledge.


Nelly, RN

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