Agency Nursing - Getting Set Up

Are you thinking about getting into agency nursing but need some advice? Or maybe you’ve just started and are looking for some helpful tips? Look no further!

Over the last few months we’ve been having conversations with travel nurses – Karen and Jane – about their experiences getting into travel nursing in the last few years. As part of these conversations both nurses had some helpful thoughts about agency nursing as a whole, which we thought provided a valuable insight into the small but important things that could make the transition into agency nursing feel easy.


Both nurses had excellent advice for getting set up at a new facility.

From her experience agency nursing over the years, Karen says the first thing she does when she goes to a new facility is ask for a map.

“I go to see the manager, I introduce myself, and I ask for a map of the facility, the rest home and the hospital, with all the room numbers on it, all the fire extinguishers, everything. And they’ll often go, “Well, that’s a question I’ve never been asked!” And I say, “Well, it’ll help me get around and know my way around.” I use different coloured pens to mark it, and before I know it I know where I’m going, because you can get lost.”

“I’d get a map of the place every time. I mean you’ve got to know where the rooms are, if I’m called somewhere for an emergency I look straight at that map and I know where I’m going. Also, I’ll sometimes find that the drug trolleys have names on them, but there’s no room numbers on them. It’s ok for the regular staff to say, “Well we know where they are,” but it’s really hard for us coming from the outside to know, because we have to double check that that is the right person. Once I sat there and put all the room numbers on the trays, and later I see they’ve done it on the rest home side as well!”

Jane says that she makes sure she has all her access set up when she first arrives;

“When you go to different facilities, it’s like anyone starting a new job. You’ve got to get your logins. So, one of the key things there is access. What I’ve found in some jobs, is that some companies don’t give agency RNs a facility login in regards to emails and access to emailing the doctor and so forth. So if I have to send someone to hospital, that’s pretty straightforward, I ring 111. But there’s all the documentation that goes with that, so if they provide you access where you can print off their medication charts, all their files, everything that is required for a hospital transfer, that will make your job so much easier. Because I’ve been in jobs where they don’t provide all of those things and that just holds you up. Time is a key factor, because you could have a fall in that time, all sort of things could go wrong. So, they should provide you with the tools of your trade which is access.”

Next month we’ll be discussing the importance of attitude and assertiveness in agency work!