Common Struggles for Travel Nurses of Color: Tips for Travel Nurses

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By Luke Smith

April 12, 2021



Common Struggles for Travel Nurses of Color

Diversity encourages both employers and employees to do their jobs at a high level because they’re able to honor who they are in addition to their work responsibilities. Hiring people of different races, genders, ethnic backgrounds, and sexual orientations brings several advantages to a workplace, including cultivating an inclusive work environment, inspiring creativity and comfortability, and better collaboration.

Although diversity in the workplace is essential to one that effectively celebrates differences, there’s no question that certain industries experience higher levels of resistance than others. The healthcare industry, for example, is notably behind in recruiting workers of color, hiring them across a variety of positions, and ensuring they’re treated well and respected. Travel nurses of color experience their own set of struggles when embarking on this career path that their other coworkers simply do not experience.

Here are two of the most common struggles for travel nurses of color. We’ll then touch on ways to remedy these struggles and navigate this unique career as a person of color.

Racism and Discrimination

One of if not the most common struggle among travel nurses of color are experiencing racism and/or discrimination from coworkers as well as patients. This rise in racist attitudes and sentiments towards traveling nurses of color is well documented in this study on racial discrimination faced by nurses.

It reveals that “two-thirds of nurses have observed racial discrimination or disadvantage that affected someone else in the last 12 months and nearly half have been the target of it themselves.”

The study also highlighted how these acts of racism and discrimination frequently involved staff members. The struggle to be treated fairly by peers and patients is often a leading factor in nurses of color leaving certain facilities or their jobs altogether because of the adverse effects this has on their life holistically.

Mental Health and Physical Wellness

Dealing with difficult patients, consistent racism, daily discrimination, and other sociological and societal issues can lead to significant mental health issues and a decline in physical wellness. But there is also the healthcare facility itself and its surroundings that could negatively impact the mental health and physical wellness of nurses of color.

Between protecting patients from COVID-19 each day and fighting racial injustice, travel nurses of color sacrifice their bodies and mental strength each day for the greater good of our world.

This very exhausting social and medical responsibility should be met with adequate mental health and physical wellness resources, but that just isn’t the case in many healthcare facilities. Either they aren’t as accessible to workers of color, or resources are limited if provided at all.

Forging a Path Forward for Travel Nurses of Color

Forging a path forward for travel nurses of color first means acknowledging all of the common struggles they face, starting with the above two. Until we’ve completely rid the world of racism and discrimination and prioritize mental health and physical wellness, you can begin a path forward by exploring pertinent questions like:

  • How can we remedy racism and discrimination in the healthcare industry as a whole?
  • How can employers work to adequately support travel nurses of color?
  • How can nurses of color find their voice and share their stories with confidence?
  • What resources are in place to ensure they successfully decompress from a stressful work environment?

Ensure you’re taking advantage of the resources available to you for advancement and employee support. You should also prioritize taking care of yourself physically. Make use of hotel fitness equipment and/or memberships to gyms you can access across the country. Socializing and networking are also important for mental, emotional, and physical health. Create a work-life balance full of connection, opportunity, and personal passions.

If you are a new travel nurse or looking into becoming a travel nurse:

Travel Nurse Guide: Step-by-Step (now offered in a PDF Downloadable version!)

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