Working as a travel nurse allows you to experience brand-new facilities and parts of the country every few months — but it also means that you’re constantly adjusting to new routines and building layouts at hospitals and clinics where you work. Make the orientation process smoother by following these five tips:
- Ask a lot of questions at the beginning of your assignment. When you’re new, it can feel uncomfortable to pepper your supervisor or the other nurses and doctors with questions — but this is the best way to quickly find out what the procedures are and dive into your work. While questions about doctors’ preferences and where to find medications and supplies are expected, you’ll also want to ask about fire extinguishers, emergency exits and even stairs and ramps so you’re prepared. One of the most important things to locate is your reference manuals, so ask about these on the first day.
- Be as friendly and courteous as possible to coworkers. Your first few days in your new assignment are critical in making a good impression, so be sure to smile, introduce yourself and get to know the other nurses and doctors you’ll be working with. Have a positive attitude when learning about policies and facility procedures, even when you’re stressed, and let others speak before jumping in with suggestions. Forming good relationships early ensures that you’ll have a good team when a crisis occurs, and it also helps you ease into your job. Remember: You may work at this hospital later or meet a coworker at a different assignment in the future, so be conscious of the impression you’re making.
- Take extra time to become familiar with the hospital and the city. Unfortunately, your supervisor will have limited time to show you around during orientation. If you can, get to work a half-hour early or stay a few minutes later so you can walk around the facility and become comfortable with where the supply closet is, where medications are stored and how the phones and intercom systems work. Even if you can’t dispense medication or will be spending most of your time away from the phones, you can impress a supervisor and be indispensable during an emergency if you can grab something quickly and stay calm under pressure. Additionally, driving around the city where you work can be helpful if you’re asked to run an errand or simply have to take a different route to work because of construction.
- Request feedback from your coworkers early. Once you’re a few days into your new job, ask a nurse or doctor you’re comfortable with to evaluate you, whether you’re just learning a new documentation process or understanding the protocol for central line care. This is a natural time to ask coworkers and supervisors how you’re doing, since you’re brand-new to the team. It also ensures that you do things right the first time; a head nurse might not be kind if you make a big mistake a month into your assignment, especially on something you should have learned during orientation.
- Get specifics from your supervisor about the job description and expectations. Though you’ll probably only be working at the facility a few short weeks, it’s important to ask your leader what he or she expects and know your role on the team. You may be one of several nurses with the same role — or you may be assigned specific tasks that differ from your coworkers’. During your first week at your assignment, find out how you can best contribute, and then write down all of your resonsibilities and goals, if necessary, so you achieve them.
The nursing orientation process varies in length at each hospital or clinic. Are there things you wish you would have asked during orientation? Share them in the comments!