Traveling can be a fun and exhilarating experience, but the situation complicates itself quite a bit when it’s for work. Travel nurses have the opportunity to spend time in far-off locales, both nationally and internationally. Still, due to frequent travel and professional commitments, they may find it difficult to integrate themselves into the local community.
Fortunately, there are ways for travel nurses to cope with cultural shifts while prioritizing their mental health and professional responsibilities. Whether you’re preparing for your first assignment as a travel nurse or you’re a seasoned pro, you can always pick up some new tips to help integrate you on your next mission.
Become a Tourist & Practice Community Integration
As a travel nurse, you’re likely filled with wanderlust, eager to explore new people and places. Your profession allows you to do just that, so before arriving, it’s wise to do a bit of research, just as you would before going on vacation. Travel is a privilege, and just because you’re visiting a location for work doesn’t mean you can’t soak in the culture and landmarks while you’re at it. For instance, traveling nurses on assignment in Raleigh, NC, would be wise to research some of the top activities in Raleigh and the surrounding areas.
Attending local concerts on the weekend or finding a favorite coffee shop will help you feel more at home and provide the opportunity to meet locals and out-of-towners alike. You can also keep your adventurous soul alive as a travel nurse by spacing out your assignments to allow more time for independent travel or forming lasting bonds through a nursing unit potluck. While on the go, making your living quarters as cozy as possible will help you avoid homesickness and feel at ease in your temporary home.
Adapting to Cultural & Regional Differences
Working as a nurse, you’re likely accustomed to meeting people who come from all different walks of life. It may feel a bit different when you’re plopped in the middle of an unfamiliar culture, but the key to coping is recognizing the beauty of cultural and regional differences.
Understanding a patient’s culture can also help you better meet their needs and understand their behaviors, whether they’re a dying Hindu who wants their bed moved to face the East, an American who wants to be the first to know their diagnosis before any family members, or a Japanese who refuses to be housed in room number four (in Chinese and Japanese, the character for the number four is pronounced in the same way as the character for death).
Between and even within regions, work culture can be highly variable, as can communication styles. Observing and asking questions can help you better understand your role in the hospital and what is expected of you as an employee.
Keeping an Upbeat Attitude
Embarking on a career as a travel nurse can mean you have some important questions hanging over your head: Should you buy, sell, or rent a house? How do you plan to maintain relationships with loved ones while you’re off on assignment? What are your long-term career goals?
Amidst all the uncertainty, a positive attitude can work wonders. By taking some time to plan out your living situation and long-term goals, you set yourself up for future success. Some travel nurses decide to buy a home in one of the best cities for a travel nursing career, including locations as diverse as Washington, D.C., and Honolulu, HI.
When it comes to maintaining personal and familial relationships back home, nurturing long-distance family relationships is an important component of keeping you grounded and in good mental health. Staying in touch while traveling doesn’t have to be challenging with proper coordination, regular video calls, and frequent reunions.
Maintaining a curious, respectful attitude and gratitude for your opportunities will allow you to adapt more easily to the new cultures you find yourself navigating as a travel nurse.