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By March 4, 2013 2 Comments

The Trip Home for the Traveling Nurse; Steps For Making a Smoother Transition


Overhead View Of Young Travel Nurse Moving Into New HomeSpending time away from your loved ones can be difficult at best.  But for the life of a travel nurse, traveling comes with the territory.  With assignments that can last anywhere from a few months to a year, the periodic comings and goings are just another facet of the job.  Yet, for the novice travel nurse, returning home after a lengthy assignment can be full of ups and downs.  Paradoxically, you may be bursting with excitement to share all of the stories and experiences you encountered during your time away and also feel out of place with your surroundings and the people with whom you used to spend an inordinate amount of time with.

It’s important to recognize that these feelings are completely normal for someone who has been away for a significant amount of time.  Underst and ing and anticipating these changes can be the most important thing you can do to prepare for a smooth transition back home.

  • Make new friends, but keep the old: The ability to fall back into familiar patterns around your friends, loved ones and family members can be one of the most important first steps of the transition back home.  And by utilizing social media sites like Facebook and Instagram can also help stay up to date with your activities and events while you were gone.  Don’t forget the experiences and stories of a travel nurse may become an all-important collection stemming from the most unique period of your life, tales you can share over coffee and family meals.  Relish the opportunity to take in new sights and sounds of your new community, after all, how many people can say that they sampled rattlesnake in Arizona, alligator in Louisiana and moose steaks from Alaska.
  • Positive Mental Attitude: Transitioning back to your home base from a travel nursing assignment is also another area that should be given some thought and consideration.  During your time away you have made connections; in the form of both individuals and a community. Coming back home may leave you feeling a little disconnected and out of place to the surroundings you used to be so comfortable with. This sense of disconnection is completely natural.  Every day you will have to re-evaluate what you came to internalize as normal.  Try to avoid thoughts of, “this was so much better in X Town”, or “X place would have…”  These thoughts will further your sense of alienation and discomfort.  Instead of dwelling on the differences, think about how everything is now enhanced and made better by your time spent away.  Your assignment can be thought of as a new lens that allows you to see and experience your old life with better clarity and insight. 
  • Change is good: Coming back from your first travel nursing assignment you will undoubtedly feel the unsettling uncertainties of change once more.  The silver lining is that these anxious feelings are indicators of something bigger within you; personal growth.  The truth is that you will never be that same person who left months previously.  The next step is to evaluate how these changes inside will further develop and shape you as a person.  Every day will be a different experience until you have once again established a new normal.  The key is to dwell on the positive.  Quell the negative thoughts and in turn, replace them with positive thinking.  For example:

“I don’t seem to fit in anywhere anymore.”  vs  “I am adaptable and flexible.”

“I feel bored with these surroundings.”   vs  “I feel empowered by my new experiences”

“I feel depressed and miss my old connections”  vs  “I am excited to bolster my old                                                                                                               relationships and make new friends”

Underst and ing and expecting the changes that await when returning home is a key step to making the smoothest transition possible.  Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask others who have taken travel nursing assignments about what worked for them.  The internet is alive with testimonials, blogs and advice for people in your exact situation.

Take a deep breath and relax, traveling nursing isn’t for everyone, but for those who heed the call, may find that their road in life was indeed, the one less taken, and of course, in the immortal words of Robert Frost, it has made all the difference.

Posted in: Career Advice

About the Author:

Kathryn Norcutt has been an active member of the health care community for over 20 years. During her time as a nurse, she has helped people from all walks of life and ages. Now, Kathryn leads a much less hectic life and devotes most of her free time to writing for RNnetwork, a site specializing in RNnetwork.

2 Comments on "The Trip Home for the Traveling Nurse; Steps For Making a Smoother Transition"

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  1. Jill Justice says:

    I am currently on my first travel nurse assignment, and want to pass on something that I feel is so important for nurses to be aware of. ASK YOUR RECRUITOR IF YOU HAVE A TEST THAT YOU HAVE TO PASS ON YOUR FIRST DAY—OR YOU ARE SENT HOME!
    I was shocked on my first day at, St. Francis Medical Center, in Richmond Va., when 2 of the 8 travel nurses were quietly told to call their recruitor, that they were not needed at the hospital. You see, we were given very difficult tests, which consisted of knowing rhythm strips, what action you would take for a pt. who had that cardiac rhythm, and alot of calculating IV drip rates, what category a drug was in,(Antihypertensive, anticoagulant, antiplatelet, ace inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, convertion of mcg. to mgs. and IV rates, etc. We had only one chance to pass—and if you failed—you were sent home! One traveler on the floor, where I am working now, said she was the only one in her group that passed and the others were sent packing! REDICULOUS! I thought the tests were very unfair! If a nurse has her RN License, has kept her CEU’s up to date and has currently been working in a hospital–what more should they want! It’s no wonder they have a nursing shortage!

  2. Nicole


    Wow. What a great point. I never thought of that. Thanks for the info. I am considering travel nursing and trying to get all the ups and downs before I make my decision. Good luck to you!!!

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