Keeping your personal relationships strong while you’re far away on a nursing assignment doesn’t just happen. It will actually take some real effort on your part. However, just because your friends and/or significant other are out of sight, it doesn’t mean they have to be out of mind. Preserving these relationships at a distance first and foremost requires commitment to prioritizing the relationship(s), and secondly a commitment to maintaining a high level of communication with the people that matter to you.
If you are taking a laptop along with you, consider joining one or more online social networks, such as Facebook, Myspace or Twitter. While there’s a large concentration of teens and 20-somethings that use these sites to keep up with their friends, the sites are continuing to draw in a broader spectrum of age groups. In my family alone, my 82-year-old grandmother has a Facebook page, my 55-year old uncle uses Facebook and Twitter and my 51-year-old mother uses Facebook to get re-acquainted with people out of state that she has not seen since high school. When you’re about to leave on a travel nursing assignment, speak beforehand to the people you care about and ask them to keep you posted about stuff going on back home through Facebook or Myspace. With social networking applications on smart phones, it’s easier than ever to keep up with your friends on these sites.
[pullquote]While social networks are great at helping you keep in touch with people, they cannot replace the sound of someone’s voice.[/pullquote]
While social networks are great at helping you keep in touch with people, they cannot replace the sound of someone’s voice. When you are out of town, or even out of state, make a commitment to call a different friend or family member every day you get a chance. Sure, you’ll be working odd shifts sometimes where you get off work at 3 a.m., but you’ll get some daytime hours off eventually and you need to make the most of that time. This is especially important with spouses and other romantic relationships. Since you will have no face-to-face time for weeks or perhaps months on end, it is your responsibility not only to make sure you communicate every day over the phone, but that you make sure those phone conversations are meaningful, going below surface-level.
In my experience, people in a long distance relationship temporary or otherwise who talk on the phone every single day maintain stronger relationships with each other and are more likely to stay together than those who do not. To make daily phone conversations happen, you will often have to work out a compromise for your work schedule, your significant other’s work schedule, time zone differences, etc. Whenever possible, establish a routine, and commit to call each other at the same time every day. Watching your favorite television shows together over the phone is fun too. The point is that you make time for each other.
Finally, take time to do special things for your friends and loved ones. Write them old-fashioned, hand-written letters. Put together thoughtful care packages. Send a quick text message that says, “I miss you!” or “Hope you’re having a wonderful day!” You’d be surprised how the little things you do turn into the glue that holds families, marriages, relationships and friendships together while you’re away from home.
This guest post is contributed by Kitty Holman, who writes on the topics of nursing schools. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: firstname.lastname@example.org.