Being a traveling clinician has its perks: competitive pay, the ability to see new places, and a wide variety of assignments. But all the excitement in the world doesn’t negate the fact that you’re coming onto a team where everyone else knows each other. And while you have the ability to form new relationships, there can still be a sense of exclusion, even in the most welcoming of departments. After all, you’re there to help out temporarily and eventually, your assignment will come to an end. So, how can you make the most of it, but feel like you are still part of the group?
Your assignment will probably last a few weeks to several months or more. You may be the one coming onto a unit or department while everyone has been there for a long time, but it doesn’t mean you have to do your job and go back alone to your home-away-from-home every day. There are plenty of ways to connect with your team and feel included. Here are things you can do to set down some roots, however temporarily.
Don’t wait for an opportunity to jump in
You’re there to help and to be an extra set of hands. There are a ton of chances throughout the shift to lend support to your team. Offer to jump in when your coworker is swamped with assessments, and grab that call light. Do what you can to be as helpful as possible and anticipate the times staff may need your willingness to help the most, such as the beginning and end of shifts and covering breaks.
Be open to learning new ways of doing things
Maybe you had another way of doing something at the hospital you last worked at. The last thing you want to do is come across as judgmental to your new coworkers. Or worse, outright complain about how things are done at this hospital. Before you tell someone that’s not the way you did it in the past, let yourself listen to how things are done in this unit. Being adaptable is probably part of the reason you became a traveling clinician anyway, so let yourself be open to new ideas. Besides, unless it compromises the health and safety of your patients, there is more than one way to perform a task and you may even find your new team’s way is more efficient for everyone.
Share your experiences
While you don’t want to tell someone, “That’s not how I did it at the last hospital,” you also have a lot to offer your team with new perspectives and fresh eyes. You probably have worked in several different specialties while traveling all over the country. Use that to bring new ideas to the table, but make sure it’s coming out respectfully, so you don’t come across as critical. Showing someone a new way to organize the medication rounds on patients to make it more efficient helps everyone out. Maybe someone you used to work with had shown you a useful hack to make a process easier. Pass this along to your new team and spread the knowledge around.
Put yourself out there
Whether you prefer to keep to yourself or love to strike up conversations with a lot of people, don’t underestimate the value of connecting with a few of your coworkers on an emotional level. Reach out to offer support or listen when someone has had a tough day. You don’t need to be close friends with everyone, but if you are able to make a few good connections throughout your time there, it can help you feel more included, and therefore make your shifts something to look forward to.
Get involved outside of work
When it comes to patient care, you’re, of course, all in. But much of building relationships with your coworkers happens outside of the day-to-day duties. Next time you are invited to come along to an event, say yes. Join your new coworkers for a happy hour or team-building activities thrown by your employer. Invite a few of them out for coffee before your shift. You never know what kind of relationships can be made by putting yourself out there outside of your employment.