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Fitting In Quickly At Your New Assignment

By Matt Price, President and CEO of Advantage RN

Your Confirmation is signed, the paperwork is in, you’re packed and ready to go. You know exactly how to get to your new apartment and where to park on the first day of orientation. The only remaining questions can’t be addressed ahead of time yet they linger in the back of your mind: What is the facility really going to be like? Is the staff going to be friendly? Am I going to like this assignment?

The Reality

Healthcare Traveler Magazine

More and more hospitals are using travelers for a variety of reasons. Like it or not, the reality is the permanent staff’s tolerance toward travelers varies dramatically among facilities. As a company eager to work only with traveler-friendly hospitals, we’ve found that the attitude of the incoming traveler can make a huge difference between being accepted with open arms or regarded resentfully. Here are some tips to ensure that your travel experiences will always be remembered positively:

Gain Respect Before Making Judgments

Yes, you are an experienced nurse and yes, you’ve been chosen to come into the facility because of your expertise, but making quick suggestions for change may invite some bitterness. Even with good intentions, your early suggestions may make you appear bossy or like a know-it-all. Your initial goal is to build mutual respect. Sure, there’s a good chance there are procedures that could be improved at the facility. Your experience gives you a unique perspective on what has worked at other hospitals under similar circumstances. But to emerge as a person who can effect change, you need to first gain some respect and demonstrate that you want to be a part of the team. The only way to get respect is to give it. Give it by listening – and not blurting out quick criticisms. Give it by helping out – asking where you can provide extra assistance — and following through. By making a sincere effort to get in sync with the rhythms of the staff and empathizing with their needs and concerns, you’ll be on your way to gaining that respect.

Practice Good People Skills

Call me telepathic, but everyone (yes, even me) has a sign above their head that says: “Make Me Feel Important.” Becoming genuinely interested in other people will ensure they feel important. People will love you for it; everyone wants to feel valued. Smiling helps as well because it means you are approachable. Staying out of the hospital gossip is imperative because it elevates you to the professional level you’ve been hired for. Leaving your ego at the door (or better yet at home in another state) helps open the doors of communication, too. No one is perfect – if you make a mistake, don’t know the answer, or haven’t performed the procedure, admit it; you’ll earn more respect that way and are certain to lose it if you don’t. Complaining will do nothing to help you build rapport with the permanent staff. Stay positive and focused on providing excellent patient care. Remember, as a traveler you are being paid very well to do a little extra — whether it’s working the undesirable shifts or on some of the tougher assignments at the hospital. It’s all part of the package.

Ask the Right Questions

Ok, you’ve taken the time to build a good rapport and have listened emphatically. There are some changes you feel could be made at the facility that could really make a difference. Using “Would it make sense” or “I wonder” questions as a way to introduce your suggestions ensures that they will be heard more favorably. For example, “Would it make sense to use an IV pump instead of the gravity system?” or “I wonder if using Fentanyl would enable your patients earlier SDS discharges?” are questions that make your suggestions less threatening than they would be without the prefixes. And don’t take offense if your suggestions are rejected. The hospital has invested time and effort in establishing its procedures so they may have good reasons not to change them.

Bottom Line: Be Professional

As a traveler you are a guest — with privileges. You are a temporary employee working with permanent employees who intend to be there long after you leave the facility. Follow their rules, value their point of view, and give them the respect you want from them. By quickly exhibiting the highest standards of quality, proficiency, and cooperation you will be ensured a rewarding experience and the facility will be ensured the professional clinician they’ve hired for assistance.