The Struggle is Real: Six Things Only Travel Nurses Understand


You forgot to pack your favorite pair of scrubs. Your agency-selected housing smells similar to the hospital – but, hey, at least it’s clean. Your new co-workers have accents so thick you can barely understand them, and apparently, you’re not allowed to have your hair dyed pink at this facility. Let’s face it. Sometimes when you arrive at a new travel assignment, the struggle is real. It’s not always how you imagined it in your mind, and there are times when you’re not as prepared as you thought you were. Although all nurses share a special bond and common struggles, there are certain things only travel nurses understand.

Six Things Only Travel Nurses Understand

things only travel nurses understand

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Here are the top six things only travel nurses understand – from adjusting to a new place to what to pack before you go.

1. I’m not allowed to… what? Unpredictable policies and procedures

Every hospital is different. When you travel to a new place, there are usually some quirky policies and procedures that you have to learn. Sometimes you catch on to them pretty quickly – like when you show up with pink hair – and other times they catch you by surprise later into your stay.

2. Well this is awkward: Joining a new team

The awkwardness of joining a new team is one of the things only travel nurses understand. Joining a new team as a travel nurse isn’t quite the same as starting a new job on your first day. Most people are very accepting of travel nurses, but you’ll always have the similar questions: where all have you traveled to? Where are you originally from? On top of that, no matter how friendly people are, our country is huge and cultures change drastically from region to region. There’s always some adjusting when you’re the new person in a place you’ve never visited before.

3. Home sweet home: Agency-selected housing

Agency-selected housing is always unpredictable. Sometimes you have way more space than you know what to do with, and other times your living quarters are fairly small. No matter what the situation is – even if the housing is perfect for you – it’s still not home.

4. I know it’s only been a few weeks… but I’m attached

things only travel nurses understand

Travel assignments are usually only 13 weeks, but one of the biggest things only travel nurses understand is that a new place can quickly feel familiar. Sometimes you get to a travel assignment and everything goes right. You love your housing, you make lots of new friends, and the area you’re staying in feels just right for you. Plus, you’re getting attached to your patients. There are patients who change your life during a brief encounter, and saying goodbye to them can be hard. Suddenly, you find yourself attached to the assignment and don’t want to leave. That’s a good thing! This is what traveling is all about.

5. Routine: What does that mean?

You can plan all you want, but as a travel nurse, a routine is pretty much unheard of. You may develop mini routines from assignment to assignment, but overall the unpredictability of your career will feel start to feel routine. Plus, you just never know what you’re going to experience when you go to work each day.

6. I’m only going across the country: Deciding what to pack

The hardest thing about traveling – knowing what to pack. You can check the weather where you’re going and do your research, but 13 weeks is a long time to plan ahead. Packing for a travel assignment is somewhere between packing to move and packing for a long vacation. You need your work clothes and all that good stuff, but then you also need your fun outfits, pajamas, etc. Only travel nurses will understand the packing dilemmas they experience. Do I really need all of these shoes?

Travel nurses – what are some things only travel nurses understand that are missing from this list? Share with us in the comments below!

Author: Lenay Ruhl

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