Worries about fitting in are nothing new. In fact, they’ve plagued many of us since way back in grade school. Unfortunately, concerns about fitting in are often compounded for travel nurses. Luckily, there are something simple things you can do to ease transitions while traveling. Let’s count down five ways to hit the ground running and fit in faster on your next travel nurse assignment.
1. Reach out.
While putting yourself out there may feel risky, odds are there are plenty of people around you looking to connect. In particular, other travelers are perfect candidates for potential friendships as they’re likely to be in the same situation as you are. Inviting a permanent staff member for a cup of coffee, meanwhile, isn’t just an icebreaker; it’s also a great way to find out more about each new healthcare team and facility.
2. Make an investment.
If you think of a travel nursing assignment merely in terms of getting through the 13-week stint, you may be putting out a disinterested vibe to coworkers. Don’t give them the opportunity to draw conclusions about your commitment. Ask questions, listen to answers, and make a solid effort to establish a rapport with the people around you. The result? When you invest in others, they’ll be much more likely to invest in you.
3. Attend events.
You may feel like nothing more than heading up and curling up with a good book and a glass of wine when your shift ends. And while “me time” is indeed an essential part of nursing self-care, it can also lead to isolation if you consistently opt to escape rather than engage. One simple way to get involved? Regularly check hospital bulletin boards for upcoming events and activities. From lunchtime walking clubs to hospital happy hours, organized groups offer the opportunity to meet new people while integrating into the community.
4. Pitch in.
When you are offered a travel nurse assignment, it’s for one reason above all else: your skills are very much in need. In some cases, travel nurses report feeling overlooked or passed over by permanent staff members. While this is usually because they are preoccupied with their own responsibilities, it can also be a way for other members of the team to assess your potential contribution. By doing your job, pitching in to the best of your abilities, and exemplifying a can-do attitude, you’ll make a positive impression on skeptical permanent staff, earn their trust, and be welcomed as part of the team.
5. Be respectful.
Have an amazing idea or suggestion for how your new department can function more effectively? While your assessment may be valid, unsolicited critiques from a newcomer are not likely to be received with enthusiasm by permanent staff. Conversely, by respecting the local processes and practices — which predated your arrival and will almost certainly postdate your departure — you not only position yourself to better fulfill the job description for which you were hired, but you significantly decrease the risk of alienating your new coworkers.
While fears about fitting in are perfectly natural, keeping one thing in mind above all else can help you overcome these mental obstacles. At the end of the day, both you and your new coworkers have the same ultimate goal: to work together as a team to provide the very best care for your patients.