Have you dreamed of being a travel nurse? Now’s the perfect time to explore a new city and help patients at the same time. According to Bloomberg News, there are approximately 30,000 open positions for travel nurses in the United States and travel nurses can earn up to $8,000 per week.
In addition to higher pay, there are several advantages to travel nursing. However, the decision should not be taken lightly. When weighing the pros and cons of a travel nurse assignment, it's important to consider the sense of community and teambuilding in a hospital environment. Here are some actions to help travel nurses feel welcome.
Travel Nurses are Team Players
Travel nurses tend to be inquisitive by nature and have adaptive personalities. Jumping into a new unit and caring for patients is incredibly stressful. It’s important for nursing management to recognize that making travel nurses feel welcome isn’t just nice, according to the Journal of Nursing Management, it's a key component of ensuring patient safety. Nursing units that work as a team and include travel nurses in their communication have better patient outcomes.
5 Activities that Promote Team Building for Travel Nurses
1. Send a Welcome Package Before Travel Nurses Arrive
Nothing is worse than showing up on the first day of work and not knowing where anything is or who to go to for help. Much of the stress of the first day can be alleviated by sending travel nurses a welcome package before they arrive. The package should include a map of the facility, key phone numbers, and information about their assigned mentor.
2. Provide a Mentor
Although being a travel nurse requires a baseline of experience, having a mentor is still critical. Mentors help travel nurses navigate the complexities of their new assignment, facilitate rapport between the travel nurses and the rest of the team, and make sure the travel nurses have the tools to succeed. This is especially important because orientation for travel nurses is extremely short, from a couple days to only a week.
3. Organize a Scavenger Hunt
Giving travel nurses time to complete a scavenger hunt during their first shift is a great way to encourage team building. During the hunt, the travel nurses have the opportunity to introduce themselves to the team while looking for items. Common items to include in a unit scavenger hunt include:
- Code Cart
- Emergency Oxygen Shut Off Valves
- Nurse Manager’s Office
- Locations of Unit Policies
- Medication Room
- Linen and Utility Room
- Cafeteria or vending machines
4. Introduce Travel Nurses at Staff Meetings
Staff meetings are an ubiquitous and essential part of nursing. According to the Journal of Medical Economics, regularly timed staff meetings solve common problems of clinical practice and provide a forum to highlight the accomplishments of individual staff. They are the perfect venue to build a sense of community when new travel nurses start in a unit. Having travel nurses introduce themselves at staff meetings breaks down barriers of communication and helps build relationships between the travel nurses and the staff.
5. Encourage Out of Work Bonding
Organizing social events for nursing staff and travel nurses is a great way to encourage teamwork. Nursing shifts can be grueling, so it makes sense to take time outside of the unit to build relationships. Furthermore, many travel nurses report that their favorite part of traveling is exploring a new area. Take advantage of their adventurous spirit and organize a group event like hiking, bowling, happy hour, or even a trip to the zoo. Creating space for staff nurses and travel nurses to get to know each other makes it more likely for the travel nurse to be successful on the unit.
Excited about the possibility of being a travel nurse? You should be! Travel nursing has a lot to offer - great pay, the opportunity to advance your career, and explore new areas of the country.
Click here to search open positions with HCTN.
Rebecca Brunelle is a pediatric nurse practitioner with experience in pediatric critical care and pediatric cardiology. She is currently living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since moving abroad in 2016, she has expressed her passion for nursing by writing blog posts and working in nursing curriculum development.