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Four Tips to Adjusting as a Travel Health Nurse

3 min read

Congratulations! You just landed a job as a travel health nurse. Now what? Here are four tips for adjusting as a brand-new travel health nurse. Let’s take them one at a time.

1. Know your job description.

This includes expectations, skills and duties. And for sure, know your scope of practice, and be aware of any licensure requirements. Travel health nursing is a broad and varied specialty. To succeed in your new job, you will need to understand what you are expected to know, to do, and to accomplish. Be proactive about this, so that your first performance evaluation doesn’t catch you off guard or hold any unpleasant surprises.

2. Get up to date on knowledge.

Take advantage of any and all training your employer offers. Think ahead about what you may need to know and learn how to find the information you need. Check out the American Nurses Association [ANA] Travel Health Nursing Scope & Standards, and the American Travel Health Nurses Association [ATHNA] materials and resources. Use your continuing education requirements wisely, and search for courses and materials that will address topics and challenges that are relevant to your work. The CDC Travelers Health webpage is a great resource, as is the CDC Yellow Book: Health Information for International Travel, a “resource for healthcare professionals providing care to international travelers”.

3. Find a mentor.

If you are working with experienced coworkers, you have a head start on this. However, good mentoring relationships don’t just happen. Pick out a coworker, a colleague, or a supervisor, or someone whom you’ve identified as having both the knowledge and the aptitude to help you grow. Prepare a list of questions to ask them. Think about areas in which you are struggling, or things you are uncertain about. Ask for a time to sit down and talk, preferably outside of work. Ask them the questions that you’ve prepared. Find out what they wish they had known when they started out. Probe into the complexity of what makes a good travel nurse. What are the mistakes they’ve made? What are areas of success? How did they achieve those successes? And be sure to thank your mentor and express your appreciation.

A nurse in a white lab coat and blue gloves is putting an adhesive bandage on the arm of a woman who is seated in a travel health clinic. She has just received a vaccination. There are several other people seated nearby waiting for their turn to be vaccinated.

4. Ask questions.

Lots of questions. Don’t assume that your traveler is telling you all the relevant information about their health. Don’t assume that the list on the official website contains everything you need to know. Ask questions of your clients, of your supervisor, of everyone you talk to in the course of gathering the information and supplies that you need for the immediate task at hand. Information and insight are your most valuable resource, and you will never have too much.

Travel nursing is a wonderful career, and you will encounter many interesting and surprising situations. Stay curious and remember that you don’t know everything. And most of all, enjoy the ride!


Images sourced from Getty Images

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