Staying Out of Hospital Politics in Travel Nursing

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politics in travel nursing

“My favorite thing about travel nursing is that I don’t have to be involved in hospital politics. I come in, I spread my sunshine for three months, and then I get to leave.” — Nancy Koopmeiners

Because travel nurses are on assignment for a limited amount of time, they don’t have to play into hospital politics. This is a big draw to the job for many travel nurses. Here are 5 tips to make sure you stay out of the drama in your unit.

1. Keep your head down

Since travel nurses are often called in during staffing shortages, crises, or other tough times, you know there’s plenty of work to do. Don’t let yourself be distracted from the hard work at hand by idle gossip, frustration with systems that don’t affect you, or other people’s issues with their job. You’re there to care for the patients and do your work, and that’s a full load already.

2. Remain neutral

“I don’t have to deal with the politics of being a permanent part of one hospital. I don’t have to get caught up in what benefits changes the hospital is making or the fact that they’re cutting PTO. I love not having to deal with that drama.” — Jamey Rains

Remember, you’re only visiting for a short amount of time, so chances are, it’ll be very difficult for you to know the full story of any issues going on in the hospital. Remind yourself of this and don’t take a position on the hot topics of discussion that center on the inner workings of the hospital. If it doesn’t involve you, you don’t have to involve yourself. If someone confronts you to take a stand, you can say, “As a traveler to this hospital, it doesn’t affect me in the long run, so I’d prefer to stay out of it.”

3. Change the subject

Sometimes you become the unwitting sounding board for someone’s complaints about the hospital. If you find yourself in this situation, do two things. First, acknowledge their feelings without committing to a position, saying something like “Sorry to hear that” or “I can see this really bothers you.” Then, find an opportunity to change the subject. Ask a question about their weekend plans, start talking about one of your patients, or ask if they’ve seen whatever Netflix show you’re currently binge watching. Diverting attention away from whatever hospital issues are absorbing their attention will likely be good for both of you.    

4. Focus on patient care

You’re there to be a nurse, not a therapist to your colleagues. While some venting is good and necessary, your coworker’s personal needs should not get in the way of you caring for your patients, nor should you be preoccupied with your fellow nurses’ drama. And while you’re not involved in any hospital drama, you can put that energy for nurturing and empathy toward your patients. Make it your priority to deliver the best care and tune out any other issues unrelated to that.  

5. Remain positive

“Don’t take anything personally. I’ve traveled to great places where people are nice to me. There will always be just one person who’s snarky or judgemental towards you. Don’t take it personally. It’s their home. Don’t let their negativity rub off on you.” — Jennifer Klein

You’re there for the entire travel nursing experience: the learning, the city, and the adventure. Remember that it’s only temporary. You’re there to care for patients and brighten their day. If hospital politics starts intruding on your ability to spread some sunshine, just take a few deep breaths to reset your mind, think happier thoughts, and move on with your day.

Travel nursing is like any other job where you work with people. Sometimes you get caught in the crossfire of something that doesn’t involve you and that ultimately doesn’t affect you. Whenever you find that happening, try out some of these techniques, shake it off, and get back to doing what you love.

Want more tips on how to live your best life as a traveler? Download our eBook, 7 Habits of Highly Successful Travel Nurses.

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