a clipboard and coffee

Preparing for Your First Day as a Travel Therapist

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The first day of a new contract can make even the most experienced travel therapist nervous. Arriving prepared for your first day can help to ease the transition into a new building and start your contract on a positive note.

Arriving prepared for day 1 starts prior to your actual start date. If starting a new contract on a Monday, there are a certain key things that you should know by the end of the previous work week. These things include:

  • Location (building/room)
  • Where to park your car
  • What time to arrive 

Sometimes information about your day 1 orientation will be written into your contract, but do not trust that this is always accurate information. I personally like to have contact with my new manager over the phone or email 3-5 days prior to my start to confirm the details of my start date.

Remember, your first day is not necessarily going to be at your building. Sometimes large hospitals and home health agencies have HR training buildings where they do new hire orientation.

Whether or not my first day is at an HR orientation or starting directly in my unit there are certain things that I always bring with me.

Travel Therapist Packing List Day 1:

  • Pens, marker, highlighter and paper for note taking
  • Clipboard
  • ID provided by your agency. You may get another ID issued to you at the facility but it is important to also bring the one your company issued as a back up
  • Copy of your state and national licenses. Facilities do not always need to see these, but some states do require that you hang a copy of your state license in your office and your manager may want a copy of your license for their files.
  • Coffee, lunch, snacks. Do not anticipate that a coffee shop or lunch cafe will be in your new facility. I have also started to pack a lunch with an ice pack in it because I have found that there is not always a refrigerator available for for lunch storage
  • Of course bring a smile! Be eager to learn and experience your new setting.

Make A Great First Impression

Once your arrive prepared  for your first day remember that first impressions are lasting impressions. I have found that facilities often enjoy meeting travelers and hearing a little bit about our stories. They also appreciate a traveler who is eager to learn. Enter with an attitude of gratitude and learning versus entitlement or being a “know it all”.   I usually introduce myself with a brief history. For example, “Hi my name is Julia, I am originally from Pennsylvania and just did my last contract in California.  I am super excited to be here and am grateful that you extended me this opportunity.”  Do your best to remember as many names as you can. Also, be eager to learn about your new facility.

As a travel therapist (especially in a skilled nursing facility) do not be surprised if your first day is a brief tour of the facility and being handed a list of patients to see.  While this is frustrating it is the reality of being a traveler in a skilled nursing facility.  Hospitals, home health agencies and schools tend to have a greater orientation process, although not always.  The length of your orientation process is something that you can establish over your initial phone interview with the facility .

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