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Surviving Those Tough Assignments

Kay Slane

Yes, survival is what it is all about. It’s a jungle out there, and a travel nurse must be prepared to tread through the trenches and come out victorious!
Come on, there can’t be much difference between surviving in a jungle and surviving a terrible nursing assignment. Here are my eight tips for survival in Travel Nursing:

  1. Shield yourself with a “net” by putting a smile on your face. How can you be sad if you are smiling? Sure, you might be smiling only on the outside, but that is a start. You can shield your patients from knowing that you are having a bad day by wearing a smile!
  2. Get rid of the leeches! Stay away from the people who are most commonly the causes of the frustration. Sometimes you can’t ignore them, but by getting more involved in nursing care and farther away from the nurses’ station, the less these leeches will bother you.
  3. Delve into the trenches. One of the best diversion tactics that I rely on is to spend more time with my patients. Take time out just to visit with them. What can you do for your patients instead of sitting up at the nurses’ station, listening to what all is wrong with the unit?
  4. When the rainfall is heavy, find shelter. You have someone that you can talk to. If nothing else, call your recruiter or get online and find a travel nurse support group. Sometimes things will resolve themselves if you just tell your frustrations to someone who is going to give you a little reassurance.
  5. In a violent storm or monsoon season, it may be necessary to find a lifeboat. Talk to your recruiter about what is going on. Talk to the unit manager or someone who is over the person that you are having trouble with. If you really feel like your nursing license is in danger, go talk to your recruiter and/or an attorney about getting out of your contract.
  6. Finding the light in the midst of darkness. Find something that makes you happy and surround yourself with it. Go on a little shopping trip and get something that you have always wanted. Find a place of serenity and immerse yourself in meditation. On bad days I tend to come back to my little “ole’” RV, sit outside, and watch the waterfall that I have in my pond. I would definitely suggest that a travel nurse have some kind of small water feature to travel with her.
  7. A positive attitude can keep some of the mosquitoes from getting to you. Go into each day with the thought that you are going to make it the best that you can. That may change twenty minutes into your day, but at least you started out on the right foot.
  8. Count down the days. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is always refreshing. Mark on your calendar the number of weeks left, or even the number of shifts left. Twenty-seven days sounds a lot better than two months!

These tips and tricks may not work for everyone; but for me, they keep me going through tough assignments. Remember that you are there because of your love for nursing, without all the politics. Remember that you do care, and that there will always be the next assignment and another exciting adventure in travel nursing.

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