Adapting to Different Healthcare Settings: 3 Easy Tips

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By Miles Oliver

March 2, 2024



Adapting to Different Healthcare Settings: Challenges and Solutions for Traveling Nurses

As a traveling nurse, one of the primary skills you should possess is the power of adaptability. Since you constantly move from place to place, you must quickly adjust to the new environment and different healthcare settings.

When visiting a new hospital or clinic, in addition to learning where everything is located, you also need to learn the protocols and how the team works at that new location. While there will likely be a learning curve, if you have a plan to hit the ground running, you have a better chance of success.

To better equip you for the future, here are some challenges to expect and solutions to implement as you adjust to new work environments.

Adapting to Different Healthcare Settings:

healthcare settings

Fitting In With Your New Staff in Different Healthcare Settings

The first of many things you’ll likely want to do when going into a different healthcare setting is to meet the medical staff that will be your team during this assignment. The trick here is to be open and approachable. To succeed, you must work together, so you must be able to communicate.

Don’t forget to ask all the questions you can so you’re informed and prepared to act at a moment’s notice. On the flip side, know when it’s time to listen so you can hear all of the finer details. Don’t assume you know how it’s done at this new place. Listen to instructions, and you’ll be fine.

Since your new coworkers will likely be busy throughout the day, and it may be hard to track someone down when you need them, ask if one of the supervisors can act as a mentor. Find someone willing to provide guidance and show you the ropes, and you’ll get on the right path. To retain the information you learn, write notes. Then, take them with you and refer to them when necessary.

Helping Your New Patients

You’ll also want to get used to speaking to and helping the new patient population, especially if they speak a different language. This is one of the reasons why expanding your language skills is a critical cultural competency in healthcare.

There are many advantages to being bilingual in healthcare. One of them is that the world is becoming more diverse, and patients speak more languages than ever, so you will be in greater demand. As far as the job goes, when you can speak the patient’s native tongue, you can be certain that you’re getting all the details and providing quality care. The ability to read in more than one language may also be helpful as a secondary form of communication.

Even if there isn’t a language barrier, there may be a learning curve when it comes to patients you’ve never worked with before, especially if you’re trying to convey new information. Each patient will have their own learning style. Some would like to hear you verbally provide guidance. Others will want to read their prescription and instructions. The best thing to do is ask the patients how they prefer to communicate and go with it.

healthcare settings

Learning New Protocols in Different Healthcare Settings

Perhaps most importantly, you’ll also need to learn the protocols and procedures that may differ from where you’ve been before. Try to understand as much as you can early on. The hospital may even have reference cards that you can study during breaks.

Start by learning the basic procedures in this new setting. Ask about their charting system and how to navigate tablets and electronic devices so you can find the data you need without confusion. Also, ask about the crash carts and the necessary codes you need to know. You’ll also want to learn about your specific schedule and how your day-to-day routine should be. Ask who creates the schedules if you need to call out for an emergency.

It’s also essential to learn about the health and safety requirements in your new hospital, including the exit plan in the case of an emergency and the personal protection equipment you should have on you at all times.

Finally, pay special attention to the biohazard waste disposal guidelines at the new location. The guidelines include segregating each form of waste and not throwing biohazard waste into regular trash receptacles. The containers must also be puncture-resistant and properly labeled. Everyone must be trained on how to move and handle the containers. Each hospital may manage these waste requirements differently, so ask good questions to keep yourself and the patients safe.


There are many considerations you’ll want to keep in mind as you travel from one healthcare facility to another, and proper preparation is a must. If you can, call or visit the hospital in advance so you’re not going in completely uninformed. When in doubt, ask questions and do your best to make a nice addition to the team.

We hope you found this article on adapting to different healthcare settings helpful. How do you adapt to different healthcare settings? Comment your tips for fellow travelers below.

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