Life isn’t perfect. You may love working as a travel nurse or health care professional, but chances are good that you’ll eventually run into issues. Whether it’s an unexpected situation at home, the agency you work for, or even difficulties with the hospital, you’ll want to know the best way to handle the problem. Here are a few things you can do to resolve problems and get back to work.

1. Be open about personal issues.

Unfortunately, deaths and illnesses can’t be planned. While you may be a private person, open and clear communication is imperative. If you experience an issue that requires your immediate attention, such as a death, serious family illness, or even your own illness, let your company know ASAP. This will allow them time to develop a plan to help you work through the situation. Next, let the hospital know what is happening. To protect yourself and the agency from any contract cancellation penalty, it’s a good idea to keep documentation such as doctor’s notes, obituary, etc. Be sure to do your best to make the transition to the next nurse as seamless as possible.

2. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied.

This applies to the company you work for. For example, if you experience a problem with the agency, such as not getting paid correctly or being put in unsafe housing, stand up for yourself. Immediately make the company aware of the problem, provide documentation (if needed), and give them time to fix it. If the issue isn’t resolved in a timely manner, check with PAN Travelers (Professional Association of Nurse Travelers) for assistance. They act as advocates and can offer legal advice, if needed.

3. Be ready to adapt.

As a travel nurse or health care professional, you must be adaptable. For example, if you have an issue with a hospital’s policies and procedures, be aware that you’ll be the one expected to change. Keep in mind that hospitals may have good reasons for doing things a certain way, which may differ from other facilities. The exception is if you are asked to do something unsafe or ethical. Hopefully, this never happens, but if it does immediately talk to your employment agency. Be very specific with your complaints and allow your recruiter to work with the hospital to remedy the issue. This may or may not work. If you still aren’t satisfied, speak with your company’s chief nursing officer or clinical liaison for advice on how they would handle the situation.

4. Proceed with caution.

Unfortunately, you’re not always going to get along with your coworkers, especially those who are leery of travel nurses. If you find yourself in a hostile work environment, whether it’s with one person or an entire group, take the time to decide the best approach for dealing with the situation. You may find that you simply have to ignore the situation and go on with your work. If it’s unbearable, talk with the unit manager. If there is still no change in the situation, take the issue to your company. They may have dealt with similar issues in the past and may have ideas for how to “fix” things. Even if things don’t change, remember it’s only 13 weeks, and then you’ll never have to see those people again. Always be a professional.

Kyle Rhodes

Kyle Rhodes is the man who started it all at Focus Staff. An avid outdoor fan, when not captaining the ship, you'll probably find Kyle trekking through the woods or running a tough mudder. But whatever he's doing—helping health care professionals on their journey, coaching the team, or competing in some ridiculous fashion— he's all-in.

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