Travel nursing is a wonderful way to experience the world and meet people from all walks of life – including a variety of cultures! However, as a travel nurse, making friends both at your workplace and within the area where you are living can be difficult.
Travel nurses need to have a community they can lean on. Research has shown that 92% of nurses deal with work-related stress. As a travel nurse, you have to deal with additional challenges and stressors, and having a support system of people nearby can boost your well-being and mental health.
So, what can you do to build a new community as a travel nurse? How can you create professional and personal relationships while working, no matter where you are? Let’s dig into it.
Understand the Importance of Connection
You’re less likely to prioritize community if you don’t recognize its importance. As a travel nurse, you’re undoubtedly used to putting the needs of others first. You’re also likely hyper-focused on your work, especially if you’re in an area of extreme need. We are sure other nurses feel the same!
But you can’t pour from an empty cup. From working long hours to dealing with issues like compassion fatigue and burnout, your job could be taking a bigger toll on your mental health than you realize. When you’re overly stressed by your career, it often leads to issues like:
– A lack of productivity
– Reduced motivation
– Depression or anxiety
Having a community you can turn to can help to mitigate some of those issues and promote a healthy work-life balance. Your job doesn’t have room for lack of productivity or focus. If you want to be the best nurse you can be, it’s essential to prioritize your mental health – and strong connections.
Find Places to Connect
So, you understand the importance of having a community, but what can you do to foster one if you’re living in a new town temporarily?
The easiest way to start is by finding common areas to connect with your co-workers and other medical staff daily. That might include having dinner at someone’s temporary home each night or exploring local cultures and customs once a week. This can be a great way to build new friendships.
When you prioritize central locations where everyone can connect and get to know each other safely, you’ll quickly foster friendships and avoid isolation.
Even if you cannot get together with people after working hours, make sure your workspace has physical spaces where you can connect throughout the day. You should be working together with your colleagues, which requires regular collaboration and social interactions. Common spaces where you can hold meetings or take breaks together can make a big difference in how connected you feel.
In those spaces, make sure to leave some time for personal conversations. Even if you’re working, you can take five minutes before each meeting or collaboration effort to catch up with everyone. You might even befriend other travel nurses! Yes, you’re all there to do a job, but you’re humans first and medical professionals second. Don’t lose the drive for human connection just because you’re somewhere new.
Find a Healthy Balance
Again, even if you’re in a different area of the country or world to do a specific job, you still have a life outside of your work. Allowing yourself to be completely consumed by your career isn’t healthy and will leave you feeling disconnected and depressed.
While fostering connections with your colleagues is important (and good!), don’t hesitate to form connections with local individuals, too. Don’t automatically go “home” after work each day.
Spend some time exploring safe locations in your new city. Go to a local restaurant or market and strike up conversations. You never know who you might meet with similar interests. The right person can teach you everything you would ever want to know about their culture, and you could form fast new friendships with people all over the world, depending on how often you travel.
Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to your old friends and family back home. Being away from your comfort zone is never easy. Even if you love what you do as a travel nurse, it can be extremely difficult to have an ocean separating you and your loved ones.
Technology has made it easy to stay connected with people back home. While it’s important to have in-person relationships wherever you are, you can boost your spirits and feel a sense of support by checking in with your “tribe” once in a while. Consider connecting with your friends and family by:
- Daily phone calls
- Weekly video chat
- Letter writing/sending postcards
- Social media platforms
- Facebook groups
Building Relationships to Improve Your Travel Nurse Experience
Building community when travel nursing isn’t just something “extra” that you should think about to make your experience more enjoyable. Instead, it should be a priority. Fostering connections will excite you to do your job, experience new places, and maintain your mental health. Keep these ideas in mind if you’ve struggled to form community connections in the past, and make the most of your next travel assignment.