sad or tired healthcare professional sitting on floor of hallway with head on knee

Your New Travel Nursing Job Isn't What You Expected

Every short-term travel nursing assignment brings with it a sense of possibility. You get to travel to a new location, keep your skills fresh and meet new colleagues who can teach you even more about the nursing profession. Most of the time, the assignment goes well and gives you another positive experience. But what happens if something goes wrong? If your new travel nursing job isn't what you expected, follow these three tips to see how you can manage expectations versus reality.

1) Talk With Your Recruiter

Your relationship with your travel nurse recruiter doesn't end when you accept a new assignment. If you stay in touch with your recruiter while you get settled, you'll have an immediate opportunity to share any concerns regarding work environment, compensation and other factors related to your satisfaction with the placement. Our recruiters regularly follow up with nurses to find out how they're doing and whether everything is going well. Your recruiter is a valuable resource if you encounter any challenges during your new assignment.

2) Meet With The Nurse Manager

If you have any issues related to contract terms, your recruiter is the best person to contact, but your nurse manager should be your point of contact if you have concerns related to patient care. Although recruiters are willing to help however they can, they don't have the authority to change hospital policies or implement new procedures in a nursing unit. That's why it's important to form a good relationship with your nurse manager, whether you expect your assignment to last for weeks, months or years.

An article published in the journal Nursing Management notes that effective working relationships are part of the "magic" of leadership. Your nurse manager wants to have a positive relationship with you and help you succeed, so don't be afraid to ask questions or report any concerns regarding patient safety. When you start a new travel nursing job, follow these tips to form a positive relationship with your nurse manager.


  • Demonstrate interest in what the nurse manager says and does.
  • When you meet with a nurse manager, remain totally "present" instead of letting your mind wander.
  • Do your best to maintain a collegial atmosphere.
  • Offer your assistance with tasks that fall within your nursing scope of practice.
  • Don't let gossip affect your opinion of your nurse manager. Make up your own mind based on what you observe.


3) Ask For Guidance

An article published in Human Resources for Health explains that human capital is one of the three most important inputs in a health system. That means your support team has a vested interest in helping you overcome any travel nursing challenges you encounter.

If you decide to contact a member of our clinical team, follow these tips to make the meeting a productive one.


  • Stick with the facts. If your travel nurse position isn't what you expected, emotions may be running high, but it's important to remain professional and lay out the facts so that everyone present understands the situation.
  • Acknowledge any mistakes you've made in trying to solve the problem on your own.
  • Be specific about what you want. If you have a desired outcome in mind, tell the team up front instead of making them guess.
  • Have realistic expectations.
  • Be prepared to make some concessions if it helps you get the outcome you want.


As a travel nurse, you have the opportunity to visit new places, learn new skills and work in a variety of care settings. In many cases, each travel nursing job goes off without a hitch, leaving you excited for your next assignment. Occasionally, however, you may encounter some challenges. If your new assignment isn't what you expected, reach out to your recruiter for help or schedule a meeting with your nurse manager. Either way know that there are options and people here to help you navigate to the right travel nurse assignment for you.



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