7 Common Travel Nursing Problems and How to Handle Them

Travel nursing allows nurses to experience new places, avoid hospital politics, make good money and hone their skills. For hospitals, hiring travel nurses mitigates local nursing shortages and ensures good patient care.

Nurses with better qualifications will make the best salaries and find the best travel nurse jobs. Having RN credentials is good; completing an RN to BSN program is better. As with any job, the most successful travel nurses maintain positive expectations, but they also prepare themselves for potential problems. The best way to deal with conflicts is to eliminate them before the assignment begins.

Housing Problems

Disappointing accommodations can make you feel pessimistic about starting your placement. To keep this from happening, take the following steps:

Hospital Safety Issues

When hospital procedural problems go beyond annoying and venture into unsafe, your licensure may be at risk. Document all problems and talk to both the hospital manager and your recruiter. Turn down inappropriate patient assignments, and do not participate in any unsafe procedures. If you can find a way to amicably end the assignment, then try to do so. Also, report what you've documented to the appropriate officials.

Emergency at Home

When developing your contract, ask your recruiter how the company handles emergency situations. You want to be sure that you'll have recourse if one of your family members becomes ill.
If you're already in the middle of a contract, try to work with your hospital manager to obtain time off.
Realize that you may only be able to stay in your hometown for a few days, so build some time between the end of your current contract and the beginning of your next one for grieving and helping your family.

Problems With Co-Workers

In most cases, your co-workers will be cordial, even if they keep you on the outside of workplace cliques. Try to prevent potential conflicts by introducing yourself to the staff immediately and making sure to memorize your colleagues' names as soon as possible. Focus primarily on demonstrating competence in the first weeks. During the second week, consider treating the other nurses with muffins or by buying pizza as a "thank you" for welcoming you to their team. 

Abusive Patients

Some patients seem abusive and manipulative. However, remember that being a patient can be a frightening experience. Talk to upset patients in a quiet environment, and try to understand their fears. Also, find out what resources the hospital has for talking to patients that don't speak or understand English well. If you're dealing with a potentially dangerous patient, such as a psychiatric patient, then know whom to call if a crisis develops.

Pay Discrepancies

At times, you may be asked to do work outside of the contract and find that you aren't appropriately compensated. Start by talking to your recruiter to report the discrepancies. You'll find out whether your recruiter is a good advocate for you. You may have no choice but to complete the assignment, but you can be sure never to return to that hospital, and if necessary, reevaluate your recruiting agency.

Cancelled Contract

The most important thing to remember is that a cancelled contract may not be about your performance. Hospital demands may have changed, the hospital could be in financial crisis or you may not have fit well with that particular organization. Find out what you can about the cancellation, and contact your recruiter immediately. Your recruiter can make sure everything was handled appropriately and get you to your next assignment as quickly as possible.