The latest thoughts and advice from our team.

What to expect on your first day as a Travel Nurse

First off, congratulations! You have started your first travel nurse assignment with Alegiant Healthcare and we are ready to help you get this new adventure started! Like most, you are probably a little nervous and/or excited about this new position. This is normal and we would like to help you get a good idea of what to expect on your first day!

If you are brand new to this or find yourself asking “What does my first day as a travel nurse look like?” or “How should I prepare for a travel nurse job?” this will be a great place for you to get that information. First-day jitters are expected but just know, YOU GOT THIS, and our team will always be here to help support you through all your adventures with us!


First Day Basics

One of the most common questions we get is “What should I do to prepare for my first day as a travel nurse?”. The first step to a great first day is to prepare and plan ahead. Here are some basics that you should have prepared prior to your first day:

  • Right color/type of scrubs for your new facility
  • Paperwork (this includes IDs, first-day paperwork, certifications, as well as anything else the facility may have requested)
  • Bag (with phone/keys/wallet)
  • Lunch/Water Bottle
  • Notebook & pen
  • Any medications you may need
  • Anything else you’ll need in the morning (coffee, breakfast, etc)


It’s a great idea to take a drive over to your new facility a day or two before your first shift. Doing so will give you the opportunity to get familiar with your commute, as well as locating where you want to be dropped off/picked up if riding public transit. To be properly prepared, you should arrive early on your first day. This will help reduce any stress in case you hit any unexpected traffic or if you get lost looking for orientation (which is very normal!), plus this will make you look dependable and prompt, which is a positive first impression that will benefit you in the long run! And of course, the last bit of advice that we give all our travel nurses is…..get a good night’s sleep (or day’s sleep for our night shift travel nurses!). 


What to Expect from Orientation

Most of our travelers will have an orientation on their first day at their new assignment, so be prepared to pay attention and learn a lot! Orientation can vary, depending on your position and your new facility it can be anywhere from half-day to several days. But typically you can expect about 1-2 days for orientation. You should be notified of the full expected length of orientation ahead of time by either your fantastic recruiter and/or from your first-day information paperwork so you’ll know what to expect before your first day. You will be taking lots of notes, make sure you are prepared by bringing a notebook and all your required IDs, licenses, and certifications. 

Like we said before orientation varies at each of our facilities, so it’s best to be prepared for the unexpected as well. A perfect example is your orientation cohort, you may be in a group with only travel staff (like yourself) or you may have some permanent staff in your group as well. With that being said you can usually expect the facility-specific portion to introduce you to the hospital or clinic with topics like physical layout, badges, and parking information as well as any specific facility procedures and policies. 

Your unit orientation will likely answer your questions like “What does a typical day look like for me?” -for that specific facility or unit. You’ll also usually be given a guide/preceptor with a tour of the unit/facility and be educated and/or trained about any clinical/technical knowledge, unit/facility-specific policies, procedures, reports, and charts as well as where to find different equipment and supplies. You may already be a whiz in your specialty but please pay close attention to all of the training! Like we said earlier things can vary from one facility to another, it’s crucial for you to absorb all this information in order for you to do your best when you hit the floor!


Interacting with New Colleagues

You will meet your new colleagues at your orientation so here are some tips that will help you succeed! Make sure to be friendly and confident when you meet your new colleagues. Of course, every facility and team are different, but everyone will appreciate this approach and will help you nail your first impression!

As you are already aware, gossip and workplace politics are a reality in most facilities so you definitely want people giving you a good report when others ask about the new traveler. Things like positive interactions with the permanent staff will only make your time there better and will ultimately allow you to provide the best patient care possible. Having a good relationship with your new colleagues is not just a matter of popularity, it will help you succeed there!

A few more important tips to help you with your new colleagues: don’t discuss things like your pay, hours, shifts, or anything else that could promote jealousy among current permanent staff. If you meet anyone that is interested in learning more about being a travel nurse please send them to us and we would love to answer any questions they have (tell them you referred them for a referral bonus!). And make sure to ask lots of questions at and after orientation! This will show a level of respect for your new facility as well as your new colleagues. Try not to talk about how you did things at your old facility or make any changes to things at your new facility. This can be confrontational and create a negative relationship with their permanent staff. REMEMBER you’re basically a guest in their “home”, and approach every situation with that same level of respect!


Planning Self-Care for After Your Shift

Unfortunately, no matter how much you have prepared, your first few days are very likely to be exhausting! It is very important to plan a little bit of self-care for after your first shift or even after your first week. You are adjusting to a lot at once: a new job, new city, new home, new facility, new colleagues, new procedures, and so on! All of this adjusting can wear you down no matter how great or experienced a nurse you are. Make sure to plan a little something to treat yourself for all the hard work you do: a nice hot bath, yoga classes, a hike, watching a favorite movie, video call with your bestie, whatever helps you recharge after a long workday/week!

We understand that your job is hard enough without all the adjustments of a new travel healthcare career, so make time for yourself to avoid any burnout. Planning ahead will help you keep you physically and mentally healthy and in turn, will allow you to provide the best care for your patients and succeed in your career goals!

We hope that these tips have given you a better understanding of what to expect on your first day as a travel nurse. If you have any questions or need more support your recruiter is always here to help you. Please never hesitate to reach out to them and remember that Alegiant Healthcare is always here to support you through all your contracts/adventures with us.

If you are interested in becoming a travel nurse or just have some questions we are here for you as well! Just head over to our job page to apply now and get started on your travel career with us today!