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How to Remain Adaptable as a Travel Nurse

If you are a travel nurse already, you know that each day looks a little different from the next. You might start your day anticipating one thing but end up treating different patients, working longer hours, or doing something completely unexpected. This is where being adaptable to constant change and flow is integral to finding success and happiness in nursing.

If you are considering becoming a travel nurse, you should learn to expect the unexpected. Being able to remain adaptable at a moment’s notice is a crucial aspect that many facilities look for in a traveler. If you are up to the challenge, travel nursing (and allied health!) can be an incredibly rewarding and interesting career.

What does it mean to be flexible for travel nurses?

Well-seasoned travelers have a fairly good idea of what to expect before going to their new assignment. To no surprise that is to expect the unexpected. But for our first-time travelers, this lack of certainty can be a bit unsettling. So, what should you do? The key to your success is to stay patient and stay open-minded. Here are some key things that you should keep in mind:

  • Orientation schedules may change
  • Managers might change
  • Placements within your assignment may change


Planning to prepare yourself for these potential changes can make them easier to navigate while you are on your travel assignment.

Do all specialties require the same level of flexibility?

If you’re looking for a short answer, yes. When it comes to nursing in general flexibility is a must across all job specialties, whether you are working in the ICU or a medical office. When you are on assignment, new and veteran travelers should always be prepared to adapt to the needs of their facility. Although you were hired for your experience and qualifications, the ability to adapt is a skill that most facilities are looking for when they are vetting candidates. If you can show and demonstrate this skill from day one, you’ll be sure to stand out!

Tips for remaining adaptable as a travel nurse

Anyone can easily say that they can adapt to change. But it’s another thing to put this into action! With these tips, you can master this skill!

  • Be ready to jump in: As a traveler, you may only be at a facility for 13 weeks, with this limited time you need to be ready before your first day. This starts with getting your credentials, licenses, and other important material ready with our credentialling team in a timely manner.
  • Don’t expect special treatment: When travelers are assigned to a facility it’s because there’s a need for the skills and experience you possess. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can expect special treatment. You were brought there to bring value to the team; however, at the onset, it is especially important to go with the flow, adjust to their processes and practices, and you’ll get much more out of your assignment.
  • Stay connected to your recruiter: In travel nursing, your recruiter will serve as your go-to person when seeking information pertaining to your assignment. Don’t hesitate to ask questions when needed!! Your recruiter is here to support you and answer any questions you have before and throughout your assignments.
  • Rely on your fellow colleagues as resources: A great aspect of travel nursing is having the opportunity to work closely with new teams and individuals from all over the country. Other travel nurses, as well as perm staff at your assignments, can be a valuable source of information when you have questions about your new state, facility, or job. They can also give you advice on future assignments and facilities that may be a good fit for your skills, interests, and career/personal goals!
Should you have limits on your adaptability?

This should go without saying but, the more open you are, the more opportunities you’ll have. But we realize, that remaining adaptable 24/7 is much easier said than done. To help protect your mental and physical well-being, it’s completely understandable to want, and need, some level of consistency in your role. With, there are a few things you can do if you foresee any challenges with scheduling for your upcoming assignment, such as:

  • Ask your recruiter if they can facilitate a blocked schedule request for your hours.
  • Talk to your recruiter about scheduling time off between assignments to give yourself and physical and mental break.

Setting some boundaries in any profession is totally reasonable. At the end of the day, your recruiter is on your side and wants to make sure that there is a level of respect between you and your facility to make sure that the assignment is beneficial for both parties. Therefore, staying close to your recruiter is essential, in cases where you could use a little more support during your assignment your recruiter will be able to provide that support! They can help you navigate the scheduling process so you can have more control over some aspects of your travel experience while still ensuring that you’re meeting the needs of the facility.

Now the only time a travel nurse should not be flexible is if it pertains to a patient safety issue. If you have one of these problems with your facility reach out to your recruiter, and they will assist you.

Advocating for adaptability in travel nursing

Here at Alegiant Healthcare Staffing, we know that it’s tough to go somewhere new and deal with uncertainty, no matter the profession. But, when it comes to travel med, Alegiant Healthcare and our recruiters understand the need for adaptability and how to support our travelers. Our recruiters and staff are here to help you learn how to navigate the process and crush your assignments!

If you are looking start a travel nursing career but aren’t sure what to expect, start with Alegiant Healthcare. Our recruiters will match you with opportunities that best suit your goals, skills, and availability! Looking for your next or first travel assignment? Take a look at our job board or talk to one of our recruiters today to see where Alegiant Healthcare can take you!