By Aaron Moore, MSN, RN, columnist
Q: I’m getting ready for my first travel nursing assignment and heading out on my own. How hard is it to meet people when you are traveling?
A: I had that same question when I was getting ready to travel. I will admit I cheated a little because I was lucky enough to have my wife travel with me, but I can attest to the fact that it’s normal to feel out of your comfort zone when you leave friends and family at home.
Take my word for it, though; you’ll have so much fun traveling and you’ll meet so many great people that you won’t even realize you’re missing home. But you do have a role to play in making that happen; people won’t just flock to your door, after all.
So here are some important things you can do to get acquainted in a new location and establish some great friendships on your assignments:
- Get out and about. Number one, don’t sit around your apartment and do nothing. When you aren’t doing anything your mind will start to wander and you’ll miss home. You’ll also miss the opportunity to meet some new and interesting people.
- Meet and greet, at work and at home. You may get lucky and meet someone right away that you want to hang out with; most assignments at large hospitals have many travelers starting at any given time so you might hook up with someone there. But if you don’t, it’s not a big deal: there are plenty of other things to do and see while you get acclimated to your new place. As you start working and doing more around your neighborhood, you are bound to meet people.
- Offer to help. It always took me a little while to get to know other nurses that I worked with, but the best part about nursing is you’re never the only one on the floor. Put yourself out there, jump in and help out other nurses right away. An offer to help is a great way to make friends quickly.
- Start with the basics. Start conversations with staff about where they are from, what they like to do, etc. This will not only let them know that you’re a team player, but it will help them get to know what type of person you are and you will most likely find that you have some things in common with people on your new unit.
- Expect to build some great friendships. I can honestly say that some of my best friends have come from travel nursing. And even though we live miles away from each other now, I still keep in touch with some of them. In fact, I recently had a surprise phone call from one of my great friends I met while traveling in Oregon. We hadn’t seen each other in years, yet we picked up right where we left off. We had met during one of my first assignments and found out we had a lot in common; our wives hit it off, too, so we spent a lot of time together. We even took an assignment at the same hospital a year after we met so we could all hang out again.
- Invite current friends to visit. You don’t need to worry about being alone; you will meet plenty of people and you can always have your friends from home (or past assignments) come and visit you. There is no better opportunity for family and friends to visit you in an awesome location than when you are traveling. You can show them around once you’ve been there awhile, or bring them with you and explore together from the beginning.