How do you handle fitting in as the new person at your new travel nursing job? We’ve all been there so we understand it can be overwhelming, awkward, and stressful. You’ve worked in hospitals but each one has different technology, staff, and processes. You’ve worked with many types of people but getting to know new co-workers can be challenging. We recommend going into your new job with a positive attitude, patience, and curiosity.
Arrive early and introduce yourself.
My grandparents would tell me that being early is being on time and being on time is late and they weren’t wrong. You may even take a dry run of your new commute, including parking and walking into the building, so you have an idea of how long the entire process takes. The time clock doesn’t start when you arrive on campus but when you clock in, so be punctual. You can even use that few minutes before each shift to chat with hospital staff or members of your team. Go in and introduce yourself so people know who you are and what your background is.
There’s a good chance there will not be just one travel nurse assigned as your mentor or even for you to shadow so it is up to you to learn. This is especially important if there is a procedure that is unclear as you want to be sure you’re providing the best care to patients.
Also, remember your recruiter is there for questions and concerns; they want to know about your experience so it’s important to keep in contact with them.
There’s value in asking questions and in observing.
While you may be an experienced medical professional, each hospital or clinic has its own culture. Employee engagement, patient care, and processes and procedures vary from place to place so it’s important to be an observer as much as it is to be asking questions.
Sometimes it’s something simple.
A nurse traveler of ours worked at a hospital where they occasionally hosted company wide events. Whether it was the 5K walk-run, food truck fiesta, or salsa making contest, there was always a way to connect with co-workers. While the Thanksgiving pie eating contest wasn’t her idea of fun, she did enter her homemade salsa in the office salsa contest and she won! People she hadn’t met yet asked for the recipe and she was able to share stories of her grandmother and the history of the salsa recipe while learning about their family histories too. With a simple entry in to a salsa contest, she made friends.
As you’re navigating a new workplace, find a balance of being social and knowing when to be quiet. In our blog post What to Do During A Travel Assignment, we talk about navigating the social aspects including the benefits of managing workplace relationships. If this is your first assignment, take a deep breath; we’ve all been the new person.
Ask enough questions to learn without being annoying and off-putting. Observe without getting in the way. Smile and have a positive attitude without being over the top. Always remember that you’re a professional and no matter what other people do, you have your own code of conduct by which you adhere. Fitting in when you’re the new person takes patience as you navigate and also has rewards of meeting new people, having new experiences, and serving the community.