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Travel Nursing Assignment Didn’t Start Off Well

Overcoming Challenges in Travel Nursing When Your Assignment Didn’t Start Well

Whether you’re a first-time travel nurse or a seasoned traveler, you’re always hoping the next stop is going to be a great experience. You know that not every assignment is going to be the best one you’ve ever had, but what happens when you arrive at that one facility and realize it’s not quite what you expected?

Travel nurses often encounter barriers that can make them dread going back to work. Encounters with difficult or unwelcoming staff, unpredictable scheduling, and floating to other units are just some of the reasons a travel nurse might question exactly what they got themselves into.


You Get the Cold Shoulder

Staff that are unwelcoming and unhelpful can be a big deterrent for many travel nurses, especially when teamwork is crucial. First, be sure to keep an open mind and remember that the only things you can control are your own reactions and behaviors.

There can be many reasons they are not welcoming to you. Don’t take it personally. Their attitude reflects what they endured before you arrived and who they are personally and professionally. Stay mindful of who you are and strive to be a team player.

Second, talk to your manager at the facility. This may seem awkward, and you may feel like an outsider, but even if you’re unable to come to a resolution then and there, you always want to ensure you’re following a chain of command.

Check out our blog post about making new friends while on a travel assignment!


Your Requested Days Off Were Denied

When planning for your travel assignment, be sure to discuss any necessary scheduling preferences with your recruiter upfront. Before submitting you to an assignment, your recruiter will ask you for any requested time off, or RTO.

Be sure to share all the days you will be unavailable to work. If the facility has any stipulations on the number of days that can be requested, your recruiter typically shares that information with you. If he or she doesn’t bring it up, don’t hesitate to ask!

If you have any other scheduling preferences (shift preferences, block scheduling, etc.), communicate this with your recruiter so they can find the facility that is best suited for you.

Click here to learn more about understanding & negotiating travel nursing contracts.


You’re Expected to Float

Being floated to another unit can sometimes be stressful for nurses. For travel nurses, it is generally expected that you will float to other units as needed within your scope of practice and skill level.

Occasionally, you might find that you’re floated to a unit that is a different specialty than what you are familiar with, but generally, the patients you’re given on that unit are within the care level you can provide.

If you have questions or feel uncomfortable about an assignment, speak with your charge nurse, house supervisor, or manager to see if there are any adjustments that can be made.

Offer solutions like taking an extra patient or fewer patients with higher acuities. Try to find solutions for their challenges rather than adding more roadblocks to the daily staffing issues.


Know Who Your Allies Are

Always let your recruiter know what is happening. Communication with your recruiter can provide the agency with the opportunity to work with the management team of the facility and possibly work things out quickly.  They don’t know what you are handling unless you tell them.  Remember, your recruiter and agency are on your side!


Maintain a Positive Outlook

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. Keep a positive outlook. Remember, a positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances; don’t allow the circumstances to have power over your success.



Rachel Ferguson, BSN, RN
Assistant Director of Nursing


>>Treat yourself to a change of pace (and PLACE) by exploring all the travel nursing assignments we have available nationwide.