How to Manage Difficult People on Assignment
As a traveling nurse you may encounter difficult patients, demanding family members, and even coworkers who are different from those you have dealt with when working in other facilities. Maybe they talk faster. Laugh louder. Cry more easily. As you know oh-so-well, anything can happen on the hospital floor. Yet as a nurse – no matter where you are — you have to be good at managing people, especially when they may be at their worst.
Yes, you know that the person you need to manage the most is yourself. Your years on the hospital floor likely have provided lots of opportunity to master this. But even the best nurse needs a little refresher every once in a while. Here are some handy tips to help you deal with the upset or irate people you may encounter on the floor during your travel nurse assignment.
All You Need Is A Little Patience
Take the time to be empathetic and listen to your patients, their families, and the staff you work with. You’re always busy, but don’t focus on the rush. Sure, your main goal is to provide safe care, but it’s your bedside manner that gives you all of your super powers. Make eye contact. Listen intently. Share information. Give reassurance. Keep your promises. When you practice these simple actions consistently, you show everyone how great you are every day.
Calm Is Key
It’s a full moon. Your team is short staffed. Your beds are full. Everyone’s just a little edgy. At times like these, your calmness and coolness are more important than ever. Be conscious of how you’re making decisions and responding to the people around you. If you find you’re reacting in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, give yourself a time out. Leave the room. Count to 10. Breathe deeply. Use mindfulness to help you manage these moments.
Set Smart Boundaries
Sometimes you can’t avoid the people who really test your limits, like the parent or spouse who is constantly telling you how to do your job. Or the patient who gets physically abusive or shares just a bit too much information. In these especially trying times, practice clear communication. Let the offending person know when their behavior is unacceptable. Then try to resolve the issue by saying, “Help me understand what exactly is wrong,” or asking about their feelings and fears.
Share the Heavy Lifting
You’re so used to handling difficult situations that it can be easy to put your patient’s needs before your own. But there are times when things are too difficult or dangerous for you to handle by yourself, so make sure to ask for help. Seek assistance from your supervisor. Call security. Make sure you are familiar with the safety protocol at your facility, so you know what to do when a situation escalates.
Recharge On The Regular
Your demanding work schedule doesn’t always allow for proper breaks. So, when you’re away from work, live it up and take good care of yourself, inside and out. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Eat nutritious and satisfying meals. Maintain a regular exercise routine. Get out and explore your new surroundings. Make plans with new friends and stay in touch with old ones. These regular behaviors will make the difficult days—and people—much easier to deal with.
Knowing how to handle challenging people is a critical life skill for any nurse but with the change in facilities a travel nurse experiences, this skill is especially important to master. Just remember to keep yourself in check on the job, recharge outside of the hospital, and you’ll be able to handle even the most problematic cases.
And just when things appear to calm down, it will be time to rev up this wonderful life skill again on your next travel nurse assignment!