Ask a Travel Nurse Question:
How do you handle cliques during orientation for a travel assignment? I tend to make friends easily, but lately it’s been difficult and I’ve noticed a lot of cliques at new traveler orientation. Any advice?
Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:
I’m actually not certain that I’ve ever run into the problem as you stated. I do understand unit cliques and how they can impact your work environment, but I rarely see any of the people I meet in general hospital orientation, so those cliques never become an issue.
Since I have not encountered the issue with “orientation” cliques (or misunderstood basic hospital versus “unit” orientation), I’ll simply give you some basic info on the dynamic of cliques and hopefully you can apply that to your situation.
You have to understand that if there are groups of people that are tight, as a traveler, you may not make it into any clique with the short amount of time you are there (possibly only 13 weeks). However, you really don’t need to be invited into any circles to make a pleasant work environment.
You say that you are friendly; that’s a good start. But, you should go above and beyond that in your first few weeks as a traveler. Until you have met everyone in the unit, get the reputation as “that new traveler” that’s “really helpful”.
Any free time you have should be an opportunity to go around the unit and see if anyone needs help with anything. Do NOT sit and read, play on the computer, or isolate yourself in any way from the other people with whom you work. Having other “traveler” friends is great, but I have had many assignments where I am the only traveler or end up doing more “outside activities” with the regular staff than I do any of my fellow travelers.
Another way to break into a clique is not to break into the circle of people, but just make a connection with one member of the group. Let’s say that we take your hospital orientation scenario. Most times, they go around the room, ask where you are from and will be working, and tell a little about yourself. Find someone with whom you share a common interest, or maybe something as simple as being from the same state, and strike up a conversation during a break (or downtime if working on the unit).
Being friendly and engaging with people is the part that you play. Whether or not they choose to accept or embrace that friendliness is their part (a part which you cannot control, so don’t let it weigh on you).
I hope this helps with your situation 🙂