Travel nursing is a profoundly rewarding career full of opportunities to not only make a difference in patient’s lives but also provide care in areas where it’s needed the most. Travelers get to explore new places while bringing in extra money.
However, the job is not stress-free. Solo traveling can feel like a lonely trek in the dark. Every three months it’s a new location, new people, and a new boss.
But traveling doesn’t have to be hard or lonely. Cultivating a resilient mindset can help a travel nurse stay focused on what’s important and let go of what isn’t.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. Building resilience starts with understanding your value. Only about seven percent of people in the world have a college degree. Of those seven percent, only a small subset are college-prepared nurses. Not many people have the skills you have and can do what you do. Remember this the next time you doubt your worth. You are needed. You bring value to the healthcare system and to your patients.
Let’s examine three things travel nurses can do to boost their resilience.
1. Be Proactive – Do Your Homework
The most stressful time for a travel nurse is when they are transitioning from one job to the next.
The documentation needed to start each new job can be daunting, so keep your paperwork up-to-date at all times and tackle the credentialing process for each new assignment ASAP. If you are having difficulty meeting your deadlines, pick up the phone and call your recruiter. They are there to help you.
When you’re considering your next job, have an in-depth chat about the position with your recruiter. Avoid surprises by asking any questions you may have about the position or facility. What is the staff-to-patient ratio? Will you be required to work extra shifts? What types of patients are typically admitted to the unit? Will I have to float to other units? You may not be able to avoid every bump along the way, but you can smooth the road a bit by walking into your next assignment prepared.
Know what activities help you destress and recharge. What do you do to calm your mind, energize your body, and reset your mood? Do you enjoy a day at the beach with a good novel? Do you prefer a long hike across a mountain ridge to watch a fiery sunset? Perhaps you’re a mountain biker or skier who rides an endorphin wave for days after a few headlong trail rides or a day on the slopes. Or maybe you enjoy visiting historic sites or people-watching in coffee shops. Consider requesting assignments in locations that match your ideal playground. The ability to recharge will help you manage the stress of a new job.
2. Develop Community
Remember that you are not alone. Travel nurses love their community. Connect with your tribe and you will have access to the battle-hardened wisdom and experiences of an expansive network of travel nurses who are ready and willing to help you succeed.
Facebook is where many travel nurses hang out. Look for private groups for the “what is said here, stays here” camaraderie. Be an active participant in these groups to draw strength from other nurses, share triumphs, get a boost when you’ve had a bad day, ask for advice, and even connect with other travelers while on assignment. Travel nursing is a great way to develop a network of friends around the country.
Your recruiter should be a part of your community. Many nurses have a superficial, transactional relationship with their recruiter, focusing only on where the next job is located, what the pay is, and what shifts are expected. A good recruiter will go deeper and establish a trusted relationship. This is a true partner that will not only make your job a little easier, but can help you get the jump on more meaningful and lucrative travel assignments.
3. Identify Your Why
Without a reason for embarking on a travel nurse career, it will be tough to stay motivated. Successful travelers almost always have a strong intrinsic passion or extrinsic goal driving them.
Are you working toward a career goal? Do you love working with behavioral health patients? Are you traveling for the money? Is this a path to a position at a top-notch hospital, like New York-Presbyterian or Massachusetts General? Do you just love exploring a new location every three months?
Identify your why and keep that goal in front of you. This will provide the motivation to push through the tough times.
Bonus: Self-Care Tips
Self-care activities will help keep your body and your mind in a healthy place.
Practice reflection. Be grateful for the good parts of your day and let the rest go. Focus your reflections where you made a positive impact, like when you sat with that patient who doesn’t get any visitors or helped an overwhelmed peer. Remember that you can’t save the world or solve all of your unit’s problems, but your contributions do make a world of difference.
Make sleep and healthy food a priority. This can be tough when you’re working 12-hour shifts, but food and sleep affect not only how your body functions but also your mental abilities.
Work up a sweat. Try yoga. Read a good book. Take a long walk or hike. Check out the best restaurants. Make time for yourself, but also connect with others.
Whether you are a naturally resilient person or not, taking steps to boost your resilience can have a positive impact on your personal life as well as your work life. Happy travels!
Phone Credit: Canva
by Alex Martin, Business Development Manager, Planet Healthcare