I Hate My Travel Nurse Assignment – Now What?

i hate my travel nurse assignment
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I hate my travel nurse assignment… now what do I do? There’s nothing worse than getting to a new unit, being psyched to start your new job, and realizing that you’d rather be anywhere else in the world.  Whether it’s poor patient ratios, catty nurses, bad leadership, or it’s just flat out now what you thought it would be, hating your assignment is no fun.  If this is one of your first assignments I hope that this doesn’t deter you from travel nursing because it can be really, really awesome.  But if you’ve been a travel nurse for quite some time then you’re bound to run into this problem at least once.

Here’s what you do…

 

Figure out why you hate your assignment.

nurse in a cornfield with stethoscope in hand

Do you feel unsafe?

Do you have poor patient ratios?  Do you not feel like you’re well prepared to handle your assignment?  What exactly makes you feel unsafe?  If it’s something small I encourage you to go to the charge nurse or management and discuss it with them.  Maybe you’re used to only taking two patients and they stick you with three.  Talking with management may not change anything but if you approach the subject in a productive manner then maybe you’ll get some great feedback out of it.

However, if you feel unsafe to the point where you think your license is on the line, this is when you need to call your recruiter and think about backing out.  If it isn’t something that can be resolved and you feel unsafe then it is 100% okay to quit your assignment.  However, if you choose to go this route I think it’s incredibly important to keep an open dialogue with your recruiter so they know exactly what is going on.  Your recruiter should be your teammate, not your opponent, they should support what you want to do.  I also believe that it is productive to let management know exactly what makes you feel unsafe and why you’re leaving.  Hopefully, this feedback will allow them to grow and avoid the same issues in the future.

 


Are you looking for tips on finding a quality recruiter?  Read these posts:

Why Picking a Travel Nurse Recruiter is More Important than Picking a Company

Why it’s Important to Work With More Than One Travel Nurse Recruiter

How to Pick the Right Travel Nurse Recruiter For You


 

Are the nurses catty?

I’ve had my fair share of catty nurses and trust me, it doesn’t go away or get any easier.  But I encourage you not to let those catty nurses determine the course of your assignment.  Instead, focus on life outside of work.  The sooner you realize this is a poor reflection on them, not you, the sooner you will realize that you’re better off without them and you can focus on yourself.  Do the work and then have fun.  Try to remember that when you go to work, it’s just for 12-hours, three days per week… you can deal with some catty nurses for a short period of time!  Bring a book to work to stay productive, wear headphones when you’re eating lunch.  While you won’t be making any friends this way, you also won’t feel as left out.

Best of all, remember what you felt like when you’ve been on a unit with rude nurses and vow to never treat another nurse (traveler or staff) that way in the future.

 

Is it not what you expected?

Sometimes you can show up to an assignment and hate it simply because it wasn’t what you expected.  You could’ve been expecting a brand new, clean unit, and instead it’s an old and dingy unit.  That’s why it’s important to ask all the questions in your interview before starting your assignment.  This way you’ll get a better feel for the workflow and what you’re walking into and will hopefully be less surprised when you show up.

If your assignment is simply not what you were expecting, I urge you to stick it out and try your hardest to make the most of it.  Remember, the travel nursing world is a relatively small world.  You don’t want to burn any bridges, especially if you’re just starting out.

 

Do you feel homesick?

Although I’ve been a travel nurse for 4-years, I feel homesick every single time I get to a new city.  It’s really hard to be the new person over and over and when you first become a travel nurse you may not even realize that this part of the assignment can really suck.  Again, I’d urge you to stick it out if this were the case.  You are bound to get over your homesickness, and guess what?  If you can’t, you can pack your bags and go home.  In 13-weeks when your assignment is done.

 

Is it you?

Have you had this issue more than one time?  Did you leave your home hospital because you weren’t getting along with anyone and needed to start over?  Take this time to reflect on yourself and ask yourself the hard questions.  If it is you I’d recommend sticking it out, making the most of it, and then doing some work on yourself so that you don’t have these same issues in the future.  (And I say this all with love)!

 

Stick it Out.

nurse in burgendy scrubs in front of the painted ladies in san francisco

UNLESS YOU FEEL UNSAFE – I will always urge you to stick it out.  If you’re a new traveler (especially as a new traveler), and you up and quit your assignment, companies aren’t going to trust you and aren’t going to want to work with you.  And trust me, word can travel quickly in this small circle.  Know the difference between unsafe practices and simply not agreeing with how something is done, or not liking how something is done.

If it helps, start a countdown of how many days you have left before you can leave.  In the game of life, 13-weeks is actually a very short time.  I urge you to repeat this mantra:  “I can do anything for 13 short weeks.  I can do anything for 13 short weeks.”  Before you know it, you’ll be out of there and you’ll never have to go back.

 

It’s frustrating to not enjoy your travel nurse assignment.  Try to remember that you’re there for a reason and that people are counting on you to show up, be present, and do the work.  While I don’t encourage being a “yes man”, know your boundaries but also take responsibility for what you’ve agreed to do.

 

Have you had a bad experience at a hospital?  I’d love to hear about your experience.  Let me know in the comments below!

 

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Kylee is a traveling Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) nurse with a love for solo travel, wine, and Taylor Swift. Inspiring nurses to travel both near and far, Kylee began Passports and Preemies in 2017 while volunteering in Skopje, North Macedonia. Passports and Preemies was created as a way to reach nurses and advocate for the prevention of nurse burnout by traveling. Kylee is the original creator of the “8 Day Vacay” – a vacation geared towards nurses who aim to take advantage of the potentially 8 days off between work weeks with no need to use PTO.

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