The Top 10 Things a Travel Nurse Should Never Say

By Andrya Feinberg, contributor

How often have you heard, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?” It’s crucial to remember these words of wisdom and how great of an impact it has on patients, especially in a hospital environment.

Onward Healthcare’s travel nurses work closely with other travelers and doctors, and nurses on assignment need to represent themselves with the highest standards of professionalism. Gossip and negativity are counterproductive and can affect the work environment, the traveler’s reputation and even patient care.


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Let’s take a look at the things a travel nurse should never say while on assignment:

1.    “I’m busy right now. I’ll get back to you later when I have the time.” At any given time, things in a unit can go from a state of bliss to full blown chaos. There are an endless stream of patients and not enough staff to help. That’s where you come in. Travelers are on assignment to fill a need in a hospital, and they’re being compensated to do that job. If you ever feel so overwhelmed you can’t step in, try and provide a solution. Reach out to the resources that are available to you. Call in another nurse on the floor or reprioritize what you’re doing. The permanent staff will be grateful for your initiative. And remember, no matter how busy or stressed you are, the patient should never feel it. By communicating with empathy and clarity, patients will feel comfortable and at ease no matter how much chaos is going on outside of their room.
Don't spoil your good reputation as a travel nurse by spreading gossip or being negative.2.    “At St. John’s Hospital, they did things so much better.” As a travel nurse, chances are you’ve seen things done differently, and sometimes even better, at other facilities. But it’s not your place to compare. Hospitals have different procedures, operating guidelines, and equipment, and your colleagues don’t want to hear about how much better things are at other facilities. You may sometimes say, “Have you ever considered doing things this way or that way? I’ve seen it done before and it might make your job easier.” More often than not, however, your best bet is to learn as much as you can while in a facility and do the job you were hired for to the best of your ability. Always remember that your experiences will make you a stronger and richer professional.
3.    “This town/city/state is boring/terrible/ugly. I can’t imagine living here.” When you visit a new location, you’re a guest. While a particular area might not be your cup of tea, try and see the positives in the experience. One of the joys of traveling is seeing things in a different way and travel nursing provides you the chance to explore new opportunities and see how people live in different parts of the country.
4.    “This job is terrible and boring.” Just like you’re a guest in a town or city, you’re also a guest in the facility where you’re working. Keep your negative opinions to yourself. If you find the job boring, just remember that you’re only there for a short time. Hospital staff work extremely hard to enforce and maintain a positive environment so that patients can heal and recover quickly. Be a part of the healing process by keeping your attitude positive.
5.    “I can’t stand working for Dr./Nurse/etc. ________.” Talking behind other people’s backs is a big no-no for travel nurses. Chances are that the person being badmouthed is someone’s friend, relative, or spouse. Don’t add to workplace drama and gossip, since this is how rumors get started. No one likes to be talked about--including you. If you have a reputation as a straightforward and trustworthy person, you’ll protect yourself and others from hurtful comments.
6.    “People here are so rude/obnoxious/etc.” As a traveler, you’ll soon learn that people in different parts of the country behave in different ways. While someone from California might find an East Coaster brash, this may have nothing to do with personality, but rather the local culture. Take seemingly difficult people in stride and embrace their differences. You might find that people who you initially judged wind up becoming lifelong friends.
7.    “I don’t know why I’m working here, but at least I’m making a lot of money.” Never discuss your salary with permanent staff. Who wants to hear that a travel nurse is making more than they are when they’re working just as hard? This can lead to resentment. If you keep your salary to yourself and do the best job you can do, you’ll be welcomed by the staff and made to feel like part of the team.
8.    “The staff/nurses/doctors at St. John’s Hospital were awful/mean/etc.” Again, never badmouth a facility you’ve worked at in the past. You never know who has worked there or who knows someone there. People have different personalities and facilities have different ways of operating and it’s not your place to judge. By maintaining a positive outlook and attitude, you’ll open yourself up to trusting relationships and more enriching experiences.
9.    “I hate working holidays.” Chances are, so does everyone else, and it doesn’t help to remind others what you hate doing. Holidays are when people spend time with their loved ones--away from work. Since hospitals never close, travelers work holidays, along with other nurses and doctors. As a travel nurse, you’re probably already away from home, so you’re better off trying to make the best of the holiday while on assignment, spreading some cheer, and having fun.  
10.    “I’m just doing this for the free travel.” While this may be true, it’s not something you should ever say. Instead, spread the word about the perks of travel nursing and all of the experience it has provided. You never know, you might even meet some permanent RNs who become your traveling companions in the future.

Remember that gossip and negativity do not belong in the workplace. It’s best to keep opinions to yourself and make a positive impact on others, while having fun and enjoying your assignment.

Are you ready to travel around the world, explore new places, and make new friends? Do you want to grow professionally and personally and gain valuable skills to advance your career? Join Onward Healthcare, and start your new travel nursing job today!



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