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    Ten Don'ts: Steer Clear of These Travel Nursing Pitfalls


    1. Don't try to change the facility's procedures.

    Avoid mistaking "new to you" for "wrong" when it comes to minor practice differences. "It's like going to someone's house. You have to play by their rules," says Kara Schaufert, lead nurse recruiter with Trustaff, based in Cincinnati. "They want you to come in and do things the way they're used to doing things. They don't really want to hear what they're doing wrong."

    "Suggestions in the wrong environment can come off as inappropriate and make you seem rude," notes Pateshia Blue, RN, an ER nurse traveling with RN Network, based in Boca Raton, Fla. "If their way does no harm to the patient and is efficient, just learn the way of that hospital and try to work with them." Wait until you've developed some relationships on the unit, and then offer your insights at a less hectic time.

    Until then, just count the procedural variations as an addition to your nursing experience. "Be flexible, courteous, and professional," suggests Mo Fregia, a senior staffing official with Cirrus Medical Staffing, based in Charlotte, N.C. You're there as a nurse, not a consultant, and creating conflict could jeopardize contract renewal or damage your agency's relationship with that facility.

    2. Don't get ensnared in office politics.

    Resist the urge to fit in by adopting colleagues' opinions of the hospital or its administration. "Go in with an open mind, and have a personality where you don't get into a clique," offers Maria Ford, RN, a medical/surgical nurse traveling with Trustaff. "Be as positive as you possibly can."

    A simple reason may explain your co-workers' discontent. Blue observes that staffing shortages often cause poor morale and frustration, which gives you the advantage of being an immediate cure for their woes. Joseph Taft, RN, a Cirrus Medical Staffing traveler, has noticed this at his central Florida hospital, which lacks a large pool of permanent local nurses and is thus overwhelmed by snowbirds each year. "You're there as a relief pitcher. The people might be a little fatigued when you get there. As you become part of the team and they get more rest, things will get better," he says.

    Even after you ease the unit's patient load and learn its procedures, if the ambient negativity is still too toxic, you hold another advantage: In the words of the nurse who inspired Ford to travel, "If you don't like a hospital, you never have to go back."


    James M. Fraleigh
    James M. Fraleigh is a freelance writer based in Westwood, New Jersey.