How to Acclimate to Your Team as a Contract Nurse
So, you’ve booked your first assignment as a contract nurse…Congrats! Now, you may be asking yourself, “What comes next?”
In most cases, you’ll probably dive right in to the onboarding process, especially if your start date is coming up in just a few weeks. This will involve working with your recruiter to get prepared for licensing and credentialing, planning your housing, and starting off well with your assignment facility.
While your staffing agency should be doing a lot of the heavy lifting during this preparation period, you can also lay the groundwork to more easily adjust to your new nursing assignment. In fact, the process can be made easy and fun when you follow these expert tips from Shi P., MSN, MBA, RN, clinical manager at NurseChoice, a company of AMN Healthcare that leads the nation in rapid response, critical staffing and project-based contract nursing assignments.
From the day your assignment is booked to the first week on the job, these strategies can help you start every new travel nurse assignment with your best foot forward.
Starting Strong: Tips for New Contract Nurses
Preparing for Your Nurse Assignment
Instead of just planning for arrival and adjusting to a new assignment once you get there, Shi recommends learning more about where you are going and what you can expect.
“Research the organization, find out what they are great at,” she explained. “Get to know the area before you head to your assignment. Join groups on social media sites that will connect you with other travelers.”
Getting acclimated to the facility and area beforehand will set you up for success and help ease some of the nerves that often come with living and working in a new place.
Shi encourages every new travel nurse to ask plenty of questions, both before and after they arrive at their assignment facility.
“Ask for a point of contact who can tell you where things area—easy things like the cafeteria, lab, pharmacy, and where are the best places to eat in the area,” she said. “This is an opportunity to grow as a nurse and as a person.”
Your recruiter should supply you with some first-day instructions, go over any systems training you might need, and be a point of contact for things that you can’t find the answers for on your own. Yet a nurse still needs to be flexible and resourceful to adapt to a new travel nurse assignment.
“Be great with ambiguity,” Shi added. “Assignments are different at every facility. Be ready for rapid fire change and be ready to float just about anywhere!”
For more insights to make your first day on the job go smoother, check out What to Expect on Your First Day of a Nursing Assignment.
Getting to Know Your New Team
The clinical team you’ll be working with during the length of your contract will be critical to your success as a new travel nurse. You may get introduced to other nurse travelers and some staff during an orientation, but it will be worth the effort to get better acquainted with everyone.
“Introduce yourself and ask your new co-workers questions,” Shi said. “Be polite and professional. I am still friends with many travelers I worked with over the years.”
Break time is a great time to get to know your team, whether it is just for a few minutes or you have time to recruit a walking buddy during meal breaks. “Sit with others in the break room and accept offers to join team members for after-hours activities,” Shi suggested. Of course, you can also invite others to join your adventures, especially if there are fellow travelers new to the area who would like to explore.
Lending a helping hand to your new team members can also work wonders for building rapport and trust with your colleagues. “Offer to help when their patients call lights go off,” she advised. “Then, let the nurse know what the patient needed and or what you did to help them. It shows that you care about the patient population and are there to help.”
Making a great first impression can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Positivity attracts positivity, so keep that in mind when you are walking into your next assignment.
“Attitude is everything,” Shi said. “If you go into the assignment thinking it’s going to be terrible, it will be. Be friendly and as outgoing as your personality allows you to…Be engaged and involved in the unit if you have the opportunity. Smiling, making eye contact and saying hello goes a very long way.”
She encourages contract nurses to make the best of this unique work opportunity, to have fun, and to avoid discussing politics or other subjects that might cause division while on the job.
“Keep things light; your friendships will develop naturally if that’s what you are looking for. Know that you always have a clinical manager here to support you at AMN and we would love to hear from you. We can help you navigate clinical issues while you’re on assignment, and even if you just want to talk, we are here for you,” Shi concluded.
Ready to Take on a Contract Nursing Assignment?
Getting started is easy; simply fill out our online application to get connected with a recruitment consultant. We have hundreds of contract nursing jobs across the U.S., and a team of experts to guide you through every step of the process.