Travel Talk

How to Survive Your First Year as a Travel Nurse

Launching your nursing career is a journey with its highs and lows. Yet, the reward lies in utilizing your skills to provide excellent patient care. Fortunately, a supportive community of experienced nurses stands ready to offer advice.

Jan 2, 2024

Starting your career as a nurse can be full of ups and downs, but ultimately, it is incredibly rewarding to be able to use your skills to provide a high level of care to patients. Luckily, for the hard bits, there’s an army of experienced nurses who are willing to offer advice to newer nurses, and we’ve heard many of their tips and tricks over the years. Here are a few of our best suggestions to help you survive your first year as a nurse.

Effective Communication

Clear communication can help your workdays run smoothly, with fewer hiccups due to misunderstandings. When communicating with patients, use simple language to explain medical terminology and speak at a pace that’s slow enough for them to process what you’re saying. Try to identify any worries the patient has so that you can create a better experience, and give them an opportunity to ask questions. Learn more about specific patient communication techniques in this article.

Shift Pickup

One of the most tempting things about being a new nurse is the opportunity to pick up extra shifts. While the idea of extra cash on you paycheque is appealing – especially if it’s at an overtime rate – it’s important that you put self-care first. If you’re burnt out, set boundaries and let yourself enjoy your time off.

If you do settle into a comfortable routine and still thrive while picking up extra shifts, it’s important that you don’t become dependent on your overtime wages and that you’re able to live within the means of your standard paycheques. This gives you the freedom to revert to using your days off to recover from work stress when times get crazy. Once you have a couple years of experience under your belt, an alternative way to make extra money as a nurse is to use your vacation time to pick up a travel nursing contract, which pays higher than average wages with travel and accommodation paid for – it’s a win-win! That way, throughout the year, you can still enjoy your days off.

Specialty Nursing

As you learn more about nursing through experience, you’ll likely come across some specialties you’ve never considered before. One specialty that is very in-demand throughout Canada is Remote Certified Nursing, which involves providing primary care including treatment of acute illness or injury, health promotion and illness prevention within remote communities, which are often First Nations or Inuit. To learn more about Remote Certified Nursing, check out our blog.

Additional Education

Furthering your education can be valuable to any nurse, and when you’re in the beginning stages of your career, it can allow you to try out more things while broadening your skill set so that you don’t get ‘stuck’ in one certain role. At the very least, every nurse needs to keep their skills current. Medicine is an ever-changing field, and staying on top of new information and practices will allow you to deliver the best care to your patients.

We also recommend that all nurses learn how to de-escalate violence so that they can help protect themselves no matter where they’re working. With quick online courses available, it’s an easy and highly valuable place to start.

Want to chat with our Career Consultants to learn how you can get on track to become a travel nurse? Contact us now and we’ll email you!