Travel nurse loneliness is a common experience when working in temporary travel positions. While the opportunity to explore new places and earn a healthy income is a definite plus, the sense of isolation can be overwhelming. The very nature of the job can make it easy to adopt a lone wolf persona, given the newness that comes with each assignment. Nevertheless, it is possible to mitigate these feelings and embrace the novelty in a positive light. This article will explore strategies to overcome travel nurse loneliness and help nurses cope with this common challenge.
What Is A Travel Nurse?
As healthcare professionals, travel nurses are registered nurses who travel across states to provide care where it’s needed most. With staffing shortages being a current trend in 2023, travel nurses are in high demand due to unforeseen circumstances like pandemics or seasonal changes with a patient influx, or simply because staff need time off.
Nurses can take on assignments in hospitals and areas where they are looking to build their careers. At the end of the 13-week contract, they have the option to continue working in their current position, take time off, or pack up and head to another state – the decision is theirs. As high-demand professionals, travel nurses receive competitive pay and benefits, and they also have the opportunity to expand their skills and experiences ten-fold.
How To Overcome Travel Nurse Loneliness While On Assignment
As discussed earlier, working as a travel nurse can often lead to feelings of isolation, especially if you are on the assignment alone. While some nurses may choose to bring along their partners or family members, many are faced with the challenge of navigating a new environment on their own. However, it’s important to note that not every travel nursing assignment will be the same. In fact, some facilities may have a welcoming culture where coworkers are quick to introduce themselves and offer support. On the other hand, some may not have a culture of socializing due to the short-term nature of the position.
To ensure a positive experience and overcome loneliness as a travel nurse, it’s crucial to have a solid plan in place. This may include reaching out to fellow travel nurses, joining local groups or organizations, or even exploring the city and meeting new people. By actively seeking out social opportunities and connections, travel nurses can not only alleviate feelings of loneliness but also enhance their overall experience while on assignment.
Build Relationships with Coworkers
Establishing a positive relationship with your coworkers is the most obvious and essential first step to take as a new hire. Since you will be spending a significant amount of time with them, creating some sort of rapport is crucial. However, it is important to approach this task thoughtfully and tactfully.
To start, pay attention to the overall vibe in the workplace. If your colleagues seem distant or aloof, it may be best to wait until they become more at ease before initiating any introductions or conversations. Once you sense a level of comfort among your coworkers, you can take the initiative to introduce yourself. If you feel nervous or unsure, try to break the ice by offering compliments or asking for help while being polite and respectful. Building trust and credibility takes time and effort, but it is a vital component of creating lasting, supportive relationships. For more tips on how to make meaningful connections, refer to our blog here.
Find A Spot Outside Of Work
Finding a spot outside of work can be a great way to alleviate some of the emotional challenges of travel nursing, such as loneliness and isolation. If you have the opportunity to research your area beforehand or explore it after you arrive, you may be able to identify popular and busy coffee shops, pubs, parks, beaches, tourist areas, or even karaoke nights that could provide opportunities to meet new people or simply be around others. While you don’t need to immediately form friendships, socializing and interacting with others temporarily can help combat feelings of isolation. Sharing your story with those around you can also be a great way to connect and potentially receive assistance during your time in the area.
Find Somewhere To Volunteer
One effective way to combat the emotional challenges of travel nursing is to seek out social support. Volunteering is an excellent option for both socializing and making a positive impact on your community. There are a plethora of opportunities to volunteer your time, whether it be at food banks, homeless shelters, public libraries, charity organizations, religious organizations, schools, or wildlife and animal shelters. By researching and contacting local organizations, you can find a cause that aligns with your interests and values. Volunteering can provide you with not only the chance to meet new people but also a sense of fulfillment and purpose.
Bring Your Hobbies With You!
During those moments when you have time but lack energy, there is no need to force yourself to socialize. Staying in and pursuing healthy hobbies can help you recharge and prevent negative thoughts from taking over. You may find comfort in activities such as drawing, painting, knitting, crocheting, writing, or practicing yoga. On the other hand, if you are feeling energetic but not up for socializing, consider engaging in physical activities like hiking, bike riding, rock climbing, or fishing. These activities can help you expend some energy while providing a sense of fulfillment. Bringing your hobbies with you on your travels can help keep you grounded and provide a sense of familiarity, even in a new environment.
Find Social Support As a Travel Nurse
Are there other travel nurses in your area? The chances are high that you will be working in just one hospital among many in your location, which means there are likely other travel nurses walking the same path as you. You can easily connect with them through social media groups on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Reddit. These groups can help you find others living in your area and provide opportunities to meet up for coffee or a group outing. Meeting someone who shares your experiences and challenges can work wonders in overcoming feelings of isolation. Additionally, building a network of travel nurse colleagues can help you stay informed about new opportunities and provide support throughout your assignment.
TheraEx Staffing Services
As a travel nurse, you have the opportunity to provide your skills and expertise to various hospitals and facilities across the country, making it a truly rewarding profession. However, despite the perks of great income and the chance to explore new places, it’s not uncommon to feel isolated at times. If you’re currently experiencing loneliness or are worried about it in the future, don’t hesitate to try some of the helpful tips mentioned above. Remember that you’re not alone in this experience and that reaching out for support from fellow travel nurses or your medical staffing agency can also provide valuable resources and social connections.