It takes on average thirty seconds for an individual to make up his or her mind about someone new; a travel nurse, one whose occupation is by nature impermanent and flighty, thereby starts off in any new work environment disadvantaged.
A travel nurse can must earn the respect and trust of not only her superiors and peers but also his or her patients, and it must be done quickly. Here are a few key points to remember.
- Mind your appearance. Fashion statements are for recreation, not on the job. Leave fake nails, colognes, stains, and unkempt hair at home.
- Mind your manners. Be respectful; don’t interrupt when others are speaking, don’t be shy to greet those you see daily, and don’t text on your cell phone in plain view of coworkers or patients. Above all, listen carefully—to your charge nurse, the permanent nurses, the doctors when they’re telling you XYZ and to patients who want to talk about their families. Active listening is a communication technique you’ll find useful here. You must understand (focus and listen), interpret (acknowledge the speaker’s points as you interpret them but in a non-interruptive manner), and evaluate the conversation. Much of active listening involves sincere interest and questions for better understanding. Asking questions shows the speaker you take an interest in the topic as well as the speaker him- or herself.
- Maintain a professional relationship with everyone you encounter. No flirting, no fighting.
- Be reliable. Follow instructions promptly and effectively, as there’s no use in doing something if you don’t do it right.
- Be willing to follow orders and to learn. This involves a zest for your job, an eagerness to learn, and an enthusiasm to help out. If people see you take initiative early on in the job, they will know that you can always be counted on. Part of this entails not getting down on oneself when a mistake is made and smiling through hardships. You must be unsinkable even if, as a travel nurse, your job locale changes with the wind.