By Aaron Moore, RN, MSN, columnist
Q: I’m thinking about travel nursing, but I wonder about how staff in hospitals feel toward travelers and if you ever had problems meeting people?
A: The thought of striking out on your own and moving to a new place every few months may seem daunting, but it is also exciting and opens you up to meeting a lot of great people. So let me answer your question in two parts: first, how staff might respond to travelers, and second, what it’s like to change co-workers every three months.
Ok, so what can the new guy/gal expect from the hospital staff? Most staff members are very happy you are there to help. As long as you prove during orientation that you can handle the acuity of the unit and pull your own weight, you’ll be a part of the group before you know it. Stay positive and people will see this – just think of Bobby McFerrin’s reggae song from the 80s, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
Still, every place I went I felt that I had to prove myself; not as much to the manager who hired me but to the staff I had to work with. There were a few who might have had a bad experience with previous travelers, or seemed envious of my ability to travel and “live the dream.” But let me assure you that you get used to it. If you’ve been in the workforce long enough, you know that you can’t make everyone like you all the time. Your best bet is to get off on a good footing.
Show enthusiasm, a good work ethic and great patient care skills and you’ll turn a few heads on your first day. If you encounter grumpy people, take my advice and “kill them with kindness.” Don’t let negative people get to you. Your job is to show up and do the best job you can while caring for your assigned patients that shift. Focus on that and you’ll be fine.
Next, changing jobs every three months does require some adjustments, and you may have to reach out some if you want to meet people. Based on a previous post, here is a basic timeline of how to handle a new job and town: three months, three easy steps.
1. First month, get to know your way around, adapt to your new job and apartment/city. Introduce yourself to neighbors and co-workers. Outside of work just be a tourist and see popular stuff.
2. The second month is a great time to explore a little. By now you know people’s names and have started up a few conversations on what people like to do. Remember this, people in general like to talk about things they like! So be a great listener and you may make a friend or at least learn some great local places to see/visit.
3. Third month: by this time you should be an expert (ha ha) within the hospital and your new hometown. If you work at a busy facility, you may be the senior traveler by now and most permanent staff members will consider you one of their own.
Overall I found that in facilities the travelers hung out together; they become your part-time family.
And in smaller facilities you’ll have no problem meeting people to hang out with, as well.
So don’t worry about meeting people or being alone in travel nursing. People come and go out of this profession and I’m telling you from my heart it was my favorite job I’ve ever had. So go—“live your dream!”