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Travel Nursing Mistakes
Starting your journey as a travel nurse can be both exciting and daunting. Adventure is calling, and there are a wealth of opportunities ahead of you.
But as you embark on your career, you'll encounter all kinds of challenges and make a host of mistakes. Understanding what those mistakes are before you begin could help you to avoid them.
Lacking Adequate Preparation
Inexperienced travel nurses often get so caught up in the excitement of their new assignments that they forget about the basics.
Travel nurses need to be licensed in all of the states where they work. If you have accepted a travel nursing assignment, make sure you have the licenses and other necessary documentation.
As with any new job, you should also know where you'll be working (which department? Which floor?) and who your supervisor will be.
Speak with the recruiter at the travel nursing agency if you're not sure about any of the details.
Charting errors can range from the harmless to the deadly, and they can be a serious blotch on your nursing record.
It's not uncommon for travel nurses to make these mistakes, but it's best to avoid them at all costs.
Be sure to pay attention during orientation. It doesn't matter how experienced you are or how well you think you know the system, always pay attention. If there is something you don't understand or didn't hear properly, ask for clarification.
It may help to take notes. Oftentimes, the act of taking notes is all that you need to store that piece of vital information in your memory. You can also refer to those notes whenever you're doing something new.
Medication errors are some of the most common travel nursing mistakes. Most nurses have stories of giving the wrong medication or dose. It's a high-stress job and they deal with medications every day—it's only natural that a few mistakes will be made.
However, these mistakes can be very costly, both for the nurse and the patient. They should be avoided at all costs, and as they are more common in young recruits who aren't familiar with the facility, patients, or processes, it's important to pay extra attention as a travel nurse.
Try to clear your mind. Double-check everything, and don't rush things. If you are tired, take a break, grab a cup of coffee, and spend more time on the things that matter. As soon as you start dishing out potentially dangerous medications on auto-pilot, you're heading down a very slippery slope.
It helps to follow some simple relaxation methods inside and outside of the hospital. Meditate, practice deep breathing, try to clear your head when you're worrying too much, and make sure you're getting enough sleep.
As a travel nurse, you're constantly on the go and deal with high levels of stress and anxiety, so all of these things are especially important.
Experienced travel nurses are adaptable and learn very quickly. They assimilate into a new environment and adapt their skills accordingly.
What they don't do is assume that all the systems and policies they already know will also apply in their new workplace. It can be a very costly assumption to make and could be detrimental to your assignment.
Rushing the Housing Search
When you're assigned your first job, you'll either be given a housing stipend or you can work with the agency to find housing. Many travel nurses opt for the former, but in doing so, they seriously underestimate how long it takes to find adequate housing.
To avoid this issue, start looking for housing as soon as you can. Look for furnished housing and adopt a minimalist lifestyle.
You don't need to tie yourself down with junk. Stick with just the essentials, enough to make your stay comfortable but not so much that you'll need to hire moving companies or load your car with junk every time you move.
Not Asking For Help When You Need It
If you're not sure about something, ask. Whether you need to know about a certain procedure, have a charting issue, or want to double-check something about a patient, you should always ask first. You're new, so a little uncertainty is to be expected and your colleagues will be more than happy to help you out.
If you're just starting your travel nursing career, it helps to have a mentor who can teach you about the hospital and the industry in general. Look for someone who is willing to guide you and learn whatever you can from them.
If you find a mentor in every healthcare facility that you work, you'll greatly improve your knowledge and skills and will become a better nurse as a result.
Not Creating a Tax Home
Travel nursing creates some tax complications, but it also provides additional opportunities and one of those comes via a tax home.
A tax home is your main place of business/residence. It is where you complete most of your work, and where travel nursing is concerned, it's where you return when you finish your assignments.
It's fairly easy to create a tax home and doing so could provide you with a wealth of benefits. If you need more information, speak with the travel nurse agency.
Travel nursing jobs typically pay more than permanent positions, and if you're moving from a permanent role to a temporary one, you might be tempted to accept the same pay.
It's the same job, after all. But travel nurses are highly specialized contractors. The work might be the same, but as a travel nurse, you lack the job security accorded to full-time employees and so you need that extra cash and those additional benefits.
Remember that you don't have to accept the first offer that you receive. You can ask for a greater compensation package, including more take-home pay and benefits.
Take a look at the average salaries for travel nurses in your state and with your level of experience to determine whether you're being undersold or not.
Not Reading The Contract
Reading the contract in full will ensure that you know exactly where you stand with regards to your pay, bonuses, stipend, penalties, reimbursements, and cancelation terms. It also means that you're not pestering them with a rapid succession of questions as soon as the contract is signed.
Working On One Contract Too Long
If you spend a long period of time in a single location, you may create tax problems with regards to your tax home. Of course, there are benefits to long-term assignments, and if you find a job that you really like in a location you love, you'll probably want to stay for as long as possible.
Just remember to weigh up the tax implications against all of those benefits. You should also consider how much money and experience you're missing out on by not going elsewhere. Long-term contracts are great for job security, but there could be a higher-paying contract waiting for you somewhere else.
Not Looking Into Taxes
Taxes, in general, can cause problems for travel nurses. There's a lot to consider, as you'll be required to pay taxes in all states, even if you have a tax home.
The exact amount that you pay, and the expenses you can claim will vary, but it's something that you should look into in advance. You don't want to be forced to deal with all that paperwork and all those complications at the last minute.
Summary: Travel Nursing Mistakes
Travel nursing assignments provide skilled nurses with an array of benefits, including a higher-than-average salary, job perks, and the ability to see the country. But as the above mistakes prove, it's not without its issues and complications, so if you want to make it as a travel nurse, keep all of the above in mind.
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