Do You Dare? 10 Challenges for Travel Nurses on Assignment
By Melissa Hagstrom, contributor
March 19, 2014 - You’ve already completed the first challenge: making the leap from staff nurse to traveling RN! Now that you are on assignment, it’s time to continue stepping out of that comfort zone, stretch yourself in new areas and make the most of your opportunities as a travel nurse.
Put yourself to the test and complete our 10 “dares” for your most enriching travel nurse adventure yet.
1. Meet at least 10 new people your first three days on assignment. Whether it’s introducing yourself to new colleagues in another unit or popping by your neighbor’s apartment, the key is to get out there and shake some hands! “This may sound nerve-wracking, but traveling is an amazing opportunity to gain new friends and even build lasting relationships,” explained Jenna Scaduto, recruiter for American Mobile Healthcare, an AMN Healthcare company. “Don’t hesitate to ask for help from a co-worker. Plus, AMN has nurses all over the country so our new travelers will have a good chance of meeting fellow travelers.”
2. Get active. Entering a local race, walkathon or other sporting event is a great way to connect with people in your new area. Active.com is a popular resource for finding runs, cycling events, triathlons and other fitness activities. You can search for events by location and date. Bonus: you’ll boost your physical and mental health by training for the event and forging new connections.
3. Learn a new skill or procedure at work. Travel nursing is an excellent opportunity to expand a clinician’s skills and experience, Scaduto said. “New environments allow clinicians to see how other hospitals run their units and also teach each other on the floor. This is an opportunity to work at some of the best hospitals in the state or even in the country.” Identify at least one skill or procedure you would like to learn, and ask your charge nurse or preceptor how you can make this happen.
4. Eat at a different local restaurant at least once a month. This can include farmers’ markets, independent eateries and mom and pop diners; restaurant chains don’t count! Get creative and expand your horizons. “Find out from your co-workers about places to go out and have a good time; i.e. bars, clubs, shows, or restaurants,” Scaduto advises. Restaurant weeks, street festivals and food truck spots are also unique ways to sample the local fare.
5. Try public transit or a unique mode of transportation. Taking public transportation can give you a fresh perspective on your community and help you get to know the locals. So take the bus, trolley or subway to work, shopping or to a special event--at least once; you never know who you may meet! And for something different, guided tours in a double-decker bus, horse-drawn carriage, pedicab or some form of watercraft can be a fun introduction to your new location.
6. Become a local volunteer. As a nurse, you already have a passion for helping others, so why not put your skill to use outside of your facility? Seek out organizations in your area that need assistance: soup kitchens, animal rescues and park and beach clean-up organizations are all good places to start. Get connected with a cause that’s important to you at Volunteermatch.org.
“Travelers are brave and generous enough to help patients in a completely new hospital, and the community is a great place to learn more about who they will be helping,” Scaduto said. “This is an excellent way to meet new people and make a difference outside of the hospital.”
7. Try a new hobby or sport common to your area. Travel nursing is a great way to experience our country’s diversity first-hand, and you’ll find that each assignment brings fun new activities that are unique to that particular area. Join a hiking club in Oregon, take a surfing lesson in California, ride a horse in Texas or go antiquing in New England--the choices are yours.
“There is so much to do as a traveler, no matter where you end up going,” Scaduto said. “You can take advantage of the outdoors: skiing, wakeboarding, boating, hiking, biking, swimming, etc., or become a part of the busy city life. Finding out what travelers’ interests are really does help in deciding where they would enjoy an assignment.”
8. Reconnect with a family member or friend. Your new location and flexible schedule may allow you to focus on things that you haven’t been able to in the past. Reach out to that old college friend or make a date to catch up with a relative you haven’t seen in a while, either by phone or in person. The short length of assignments can allow a traveler to experience everything they want within a short amount of time, Scaduto explained. “This is a great way for families to bond if they are able to go together or gives individuals a sense of independence of leaving their comfort zone.”
9. Take a mini vacation or staycation. “The flexibility of travel nursing and the length of the assignments also help with time and money for travelers to go on vacation,” Scaduto said. Take advantage of your proximity to regional attractions, either as you travel between assignments or when you have some time off. If you only have a few days before your next shift, consider a “staycation,” and spend time exploring your new town and participating in activities you wouldn’t normally seek out.
10. Visit at least five parks or nature reserves before your assignment is over. Connecting with nature is a powerful way to relax and rejuvenate after a long shift or particularly stressful day. The National Park Service lets visitors search for local parks by state, and your community resource center should also have a list of smaller parks, shorelines and recreational areas in your assignment location.
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