Lee Nelson
Lee Nelson
March 23, 2018 - 4 min read

Making Meaningful Relationships on Short Stints as a Travel Nurse

As a travel nurse, the excitement of a new place can be fun and adventurous. But without friends and family around, it can get lonely. Plus, it gets a little tough to get close to people you work with when you only have a short stint.

“Making friends in a new place can be really tough, especially if you’re only around for 13 weeks,” says Tameeka Williams, registered nurse and travel nurse with GIFTED Healthcare. “My first real travel assignment brought me to San Diego, and I could not have picked a better place to begin my travels.” She adds that everyone in San Diego was extremely welcoming and friendly. There was always an adventure being planned and she was always invited, which was very surprising at first.

“I traveled from Louisiana with a stereotype that Californians were not friendly. I found that to not be the case at all in San Diego.”

She adds that making friends outside of work can be a bit more difficult. But luckily, social media can be a great resource for networking with other new travel nurses in the area who are also looking for someone to connect with and get to know while on assignment. “I would tell a new traveler to get on Facebook and locate a travel nurse group in the city you are in, join the group, and you will find someone posting an invite to attend an event or just to meet-up,” Williams explains.

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How can they try to fit in at a new place of work when everyone else has been in that department for years?

“For me, it not too hard to connect with the nurses on my unit. Everyone is usually very welcoming and helpful,” she says. When she is in a new environment, she observes the atmosphere and personalities of those around her — observing people and their actions and how they treat others. She understands that not everyone will have her best interest at heart, and that is OK. She believes that as long as she continues to have a positive and welcoming disposition, the staff in her department will see those qualities and be welcoming in return.

One of the most important factors that determine if the staff will accept you is how well you do your job. There are some nurses who come to a facility and feel they don’t always have to comply with the floor policies. They may leave work for the day with unfinished tasks or leave a patient in a bad condition for the nurse coming on. That will make staff nurses not receptive of you, Williams says.

Why is it tougher to make close friends as we get older, and how can you get over that fear of rejection or get over our high expectations of what a connection should be?

“I turned 28 this year and place a higher value on friendships than I ever have before,” she adds. “I do not walk into every facility and expect every person that I befriend to stay in my life forever or meet all of the requirements I feel a lasting friend should meet.” This outlook allows her to be more open to new friends in new cities. Expecting a person who is living their own life and fighting their own battles to be a perfect friend is unrealistic.

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What are the things a travel nurse should remember not to do or say when starting out at a new place of work so not to offend?

Not completing all of the patient care requirements in the day is the biggest no-no, Williams says. “Starting a shift with issues that were left by the nurse on the previous shift is a huge nuisance. This makes it hard to focus on what you should be focused on – the patient. It also makes you feel as if you are doing double work,” she adds.

What are some great ways to meet new people in a new place outside of work?

A great resource to meet people is meetup.com.  You simply sign up, choose your city and select your hobbies, a list of groups that align with your interests will populate. I like to read so I find local book clubs in new cities. If you like hiking, theater or the arts you simply click that hobby and all of the groups for that area will populate for you.

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What are some of the best ways to find out about great restaurants, theater, and other activities in a town you will only be living in a few months?

When it comes to food and things to do locally the best sources of information are the locals. “Yes, you can Google restaurants. But I’ve come to find the locals know the hole-in-the-wall restaurants that have really amazing food or good hiking trails that aren’t mentioned on the internet. Yelp is another great resource that allows you to read customer reviews to help you make decisions,” she says. She also discovered Groupon when I came to San Diego. It helps her to find good deals on local activities.

When in a new town, what are your tips on staying safe when adventuring out on your own and trying to meet people? The best way to stay safe especially in a big city like San Diego is to use common sense. Don’t walk alone late at night. Have someone you trust with you and travel in groups, she says. “Trust your instincts,” Williams explains. “If something doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it. To sum it up, the best way to stay safe is do everything your parents ever told you to do.”

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