I Hate My Travel Nurse Assignment! What Should I Do?
As a traveling nurse, you would hope that every new assignment you take on will be an enjoyable, fulfilling work experience. Unfortunately, however, this may not always be the case. There are instances where you may think to yourself, “Wow, I hate my travel nurse assignment!” and wonder what the next best steps are for managing the situation.
Disliking an assignment from time to time can happen, so here are some things that travel nurses can do to handle this type of situation when it does arise.
4 Reasons You May Hate Your Travel Nursing Assignment
While every job can have its small annoyances, sometimes too many large problems can result in the position feeling unbearable. As a traveling nurse, there are multiple reasons you may end up feeling like you hate your assignment, especially if the conditions you work in, the people you interact with, or the policies you have to follow are not up to par.
- Negative Interactions with Hospital Staff
It can be common for staff nurses and traveling nurses to butt heads. Personality conflicts happen all the time and can quickly lead to a hostile work environment if not dealt with properly. You may find that staff nurses might act catty, bitter, or even jealous if you end up taking on more shifts or working in certain areas of the hospital they typically operate in.
Staff nurses are also usually aware that traveling nurses can make more money, which is a large point of contention. While Registered Nurses (RNs) make an average of $77,600 a year (as of May 2021), traveling nurses can make even more than this when considering the other benefits that come with their position, including daily per diems, housing allowance, and more.
Additionally, because nurses continue to be in high demand, hospitals and other healthcare facilities look to traveling nurses as a valuable resource, meaning they may be offered more money than the average staff nurse’s salary as an incentive to take on the assignment.
All these things can lead to conflict and tension between the regular hospital staff and travelers, making a traveler’s assignment not as enjoyable, especially if they have to deal with tension or drama directed towards them from their coworkers.
- Subpar Management
One disadvantage of being a traveling nurse is entering a new space where management isn’t familiar with you. While the management staff may have a sense of who you are and your skill level based on your resume, interview, and what your recruiter has told them, they haven’t truly gotten to know you as an individual. They also haven’t seen your work ethic in person, nor have they worked one-on-one with you yet.
For this reason, your managers may have a tendency to side with staff nurses when problems arise, since they are more familiar with those individuals. They’ve already had to manage those people before, so they are likely accustomed to how an employee may respond to feedback or constructive criticism. You, on the other hand, are coming in from the outside, so they might be wearier of you if problems occur.
Other management problems can include managers scheduling you for shifts you didn’t agree to, or floating you even if you were previously told you wouldn’t be in that position.
- High Patient Ratios
During your travel nursing interview, you will likely be told about patient ratios ahead of time. However, when arriving at the hospital or healthcare facility, you may learn that these ratios are much higher than what you were initially told.
Widespread nursing shortages have decreased the number of available medical personnel that can serve patients. With patients still coming in at a continuous rate, patient-to-nurse ratios can become unreasonable. If you weren’t told about this ahead of time, you might be dissatisfied once you arrive at your assignment to learn that it’s quite the opposite.
- Unsatisfactory Location and Housing
Not every location you travel to will be your favorite, and you may end up in a city or town that isn’t up to your expectations. The location may not offer much in the way of entertainment, or it may simply feel unsafe or run-down.
Likewise, your housing may not be up to par. If you choose to have your nursing agency find housing for you rather than taking a housing stipend, there’s always a risk that you won’t love where you have to live. You may find that your housing is dingy, in an unsafe neighborhood, or has features, like appliances, that are broken and don’t work.
If your agency fails to rectify a housing issue, you may quickly become unhappy with the assignment.
Advice for Handling a Horrible Assignment
While a horrible travel nursing assignment can be disheartening, there are ways to cope with and even avoid certain problems that may arise. Consider the following tips if you’re disappointed with your travel nursing assignment.
Avoid Quitting Entirely
We try to discourage nurses from quitting a travel assignment. You don’t want to burn bridges at the chance of derailing your travel nursing career in the future by developing a bad reputation at certain hospitals or their sister healthcare facilities.
Every hospital has a different policy for how they handle canceled contracts. Most of the time, these facilities want at least two to four weeks’ notice if you are planning on leaving. If you decide to quit and not give any notice, the hospital may put you on a DNR (Do Not Return) list for that facility and any of their sister facilities.
Instead of quitting a travel nurse contract entirely, we always recommend counting down the number of shifts you have left to make it seem like a shorter amount of time. Additionally, if you do want to give notice that you are leaving, consider the pros and cons of quitting early versus sticking the assignment out until the end. Most assignments are only 13 weeks, so it might be worth finishing the assignment instead of calling it quits.
If your assignment is so horrible that you think quitting is your best option, giving notice is the best way to ensure that you don’t make a DNR list, and that your recruiter has plenty of time to find you another assignment.
Maintain Positive Relationships and Interactions
While on assignment, it’s best to stay out of nurse politics and instead build trust with fellow staff nurses. You are all supposed to work as a team, and conflict will only make this challenging for everyone involved.
Hospital staff is usually under tremendous stress; between caring for patients, following correct policies, and building relationships with coworkers, many nurses will experience compassion fatigue and anxiety from all the pressure. These things can make it incredibly challenging to get along, since stress can lead to irritability and frustration.
When these situations arise, it’s better to focus on the primary goal by working together as a team. Patient care is your number one priority, so keeping this goal in mind is the best way to avoid extra drama.
Focus on the Experience
Sometimes, the best way to get through a horrible travel nursing assignment is to focus on the experience and why you’re there in the first place. While the highest payout can be a huge incentive for taking an assignment, the experience of traveling to that location is also a large part of choosing an assignment that’s right for you.
Traveling with an open mind is best, especially if you’re going somewhere you’ve never been before. Find things to do on your days off and see what the area has to offer. You may also consider traveling somewhere where you know someone, since having friends can always make the experience more enjoyable.
Talk with Your Recruiter
When experiencing an unsatisfactory travel nursing assignment, the best solution is to talk to your recruiter immediately. Your recruiter is there to play matchmaker for you and help you find an assignment that fits your wants and needs. If your current assignment is not up to par, your recruiter can help you pivot to something else that you may enjoy more.
Additionally, if you have problems with hospital management or housing, these issues can be addressed by your recruiter. They can work on your behalf to find a solution and make your assignment more enjoyable.
Our recruiters at OneStaff Medical are here to help you get the most out of your travel nursing assignment. To learn more, or to become a travel nurse, contact us today at 877-783-1483.