Tips for your first day at a new facility as an agency nurse

Altrius, one of our highly experienced acute RNs

Written by Emily James

An agency nurse at Healthcare HQ is required to work at multiple facilities in the Sydney metro region to best support our clients and their patients. And whether you’re an AIN about to walk into your very first nursing shift, or an RN with years of agency nursing experience, your first day at a new facility is always a little daunting. Every site is different in terms of its layout, procedures, and workplace culture, meaning adapting to each facility can be a challenge if you’re not prepared.

We’re going to take you through some of our tips for your first day at a new facility as an agency nurse, so you can feel calm, comfortable, and confident for your first shift:

  • Organise your transport
  • Familiarise yourself with the facility
  • Ask questions, questions, and more questions!
  • Be the ‘just so you know’ person
  • Your next steps

Organise your transport

Before you even think about walking through the door of a new facility, you’ll need to figure out how you’ll be traveling to and from your shift. An agency nursing job at Healthcare HQ will require you to work at multiple different sites in the Sydney metro region, so you’ll need to familiarise yourself with traveling to multiple locations at different times of the day.

If you’re planning on driving to a facility, ensure there’s secure parking nearby for the entirety of your shift. If you’re catching public transport, make sure to plan your route well in advance using the TripView app or website. Make sure you check these services frequently so you can adjust your route in the event of trackwork, delays or special events that could cause you to be late.

Photo by Luke White on Unsplash

Familiarise yourself with the facility

Once you arrive at the facility, it’s important to start becoming familiar with the layout and procedures a site operates with:


  • Where are the facility’s emergency exits and evacuation points?
  • Where are the fire extinguishers, fire blankets, and similar tools?
  • Where are the staff toilets, lockers, break rooms, and kiosks?
  • Where are the resources I’ll need to access on my shift (e.g., bedding)?
  • Where is the nurse in charge or management situated?


  • What is the evacuation procedure in this facility? What are my responsibilities and who do I report to in the event of an evacuation or emergency?
  • Who is the nurse in charge or manager I need to report to during this shift?
  • How, when and where do I take breaks?
  • What are my roles and responsibilities as an agency nurse in this facility?

Some sites may be able to provide you with an orientation before your first shift, which could involve a tour of the facility or another induction activity. However, not all facilities will be able to offer this, meaning, it’s up to you to orient yourself with the facility to be as safe and confident at work as possible.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Ask questions, questions, and more questions!

Helen, one of our very experienced aged care RNs

A first day at any job will cause a number of questions and uncertainties to arise. But when you’re an agency nurse, being uncertain can lead to mistakes that could jeopardise the safety and wellbeing of yourself, your patients and your colleagues. No matter how experienced you are with agency nursing work, it’s critical that you ask questions and seek clarification in the event you’re unsure how to proceed with a task.

By asking questions, communicating confidently, and double or triple checking an instruction before proceeding with it, you’ll become a highly valued employee at every facility you work at. An agency nurse that questions clarifies and communicates demonstrates a concern for safety and integrity in the workplace, something that will serve you well in your agency nursing career.

Be the ‘just so you know’ person

When entering a new workplace as an agency nurse for the first time, it can be tempting to want to blend into the background or not to cause too much fuss. But taking a back seat on your first shift is perhaps the worst thing you can do as an agency nurse. By being not only assertive but proactive when working at a new facility, you’ll quickly demonstrate the skills and strengths to your colleagues that will have them requesting you back in no time.

We like to call this kind of agency nurse the ‘just so you know’ person. Let your nurse in charge know what you’ve been working on and what you’re planning to work on for the remainder of your shift. Organise your break/s instead of waiting for one to be offered to you. Ask how you can be of use when you find yourself with a spare minute or two.  

By approaching your colleagues, patients, and management with ‘just so you know’ updates throughout your shift, it will quickly become clear that you’re organised, self-sufficient, and considerate of the busy environment that many hospitals and aged care facilities are. And that is the kind of agency nurse the healthcare sector needs.

Your next steps

Does agency nursing sound like your cup of tea? If you think you’re ready to apply for an agency nursing job, it’s time to chat to Healthcare HQ!

At Healthcare HQ, we specialise in providing agency nursing jobs to RNs, ENs, and AINs (carers) no matter what stage they’re at in their nursing career. With a variety of roles on offer in hospital and residential aged care facilities in the Sydney metro region, we’ll always have agency nursing work that will fit around your busy schedule. We offer flexibility, opportunity, and professional support to our agency nursing staff throughout their employment with us and will support your growth and development with online training and frequent communication with you to determine your needs and goals in your nursing career.

So, if you’re ready to take the plunge into agency nursing, get in touch with us today! To apply for work with us, complete our online application form here or email your CV and cover letter to [email protected]. If we’ve piqued your interest but you’re still undecided, take a look at our FAQs or visit our pages on Facebook and Instagram.

Disclaimer: The advice provided in this article is general in nature. For more information relating to your individual circumstances, please speak to us directly.

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