Coping With a Bad Assignment and Leaving It Behind

Written by Rose Torrento on Thursday, September 02, 2021 Posted in On the Job

bad assignment Not every assignment is going to be your favorite. It’s just a fact of life. Seasoned travel nurses will likely recall bad experiences and stressful assignments that left them with burn out. If you find yourself in one of these situations, don’t let it sour your experience with travel nursing — especially early in your career. One bad assignment shouldn’t derail your enthusiasm or leave you questioning your career. Take the lessons learned, and leave the experience behind you.

Common assignment struggles

What makes a travel nursing assignment stressful? Environment and coworkers have a lot to do with it, but much will rely on the treatment you receive from clinical and administrative staff.

Staff nurses don’t always welcome travelers with open arms. A cold shoulder on arrival sets an awkward tone for the coming weeks. It is important to make a good first impression and do your best to forge friendships, but sometimes it’s a losing battle. The best any travel nurse can do is keep an open mind and focus on the work.

Inconsistent or ill-suited shifts can also sour an assignment. Floating between units is a typical part of travel nursing, but it’s less than ideal if you’re more comfortable working within your specialty or with a particular group of patients. Contracts usually give hospitals agency to station travel nurses wherever they need to fill a gap, so if you’d prefer not to float, be sure to let your recruiter know. They can negotiate details or exceptions with the facility and have changes written into your contract before you sign it.

better days

Look forward to better days

Travel nurses may find themselves stuck on the last crummy assignment even long after they’ve moved on to the next one. Holding onto anger or assigning blame only causes more stress, and it won’t change the outcome. Know you did the best you could, and remind yourself you can’t control the actions of others. Try these simple tips for letting go of stress after a tough assignment:

  • Write down your emotions in a journal or letter to yourself
  • Approach your emotions from a logical, factual standpoint
  • Try not to relive past experiences; look forward instead
  • Remind yourself of your value, worth, and abilities

Above all, focus your attention on what’s next. When you receive a new assignment, give it your all and put energy into building a positive experience. View every assignment — good or bad — as a learning experience. Don’t let negative emotions weigh you down. Figure out the big takeaway and apply it to future assignments. It’s a great way to get something from an assignment when it feels like it took too much from you.

positive experiences

Create positive experiences

There’s a little bit of good in every assignment if you know where to look. Next time you’re stuck in a bad situation, think about one part of the job that makes you smile, no matter how small, or use a tough assignment to focus on growing your own abilities. Sticking with a rough assignment will prepare you for others to come — and make positive assignments that much better.

Not all assignments are a walk in the park. Whether it’s tense encounters with staff nurses, management, or patients, you are bound to face challenges. What matters is that you take them in stride and make the most of the situation. Who knows? Maybe with a change in perspective, your assignment won’t be so bad after all!

It’s important to understand the difference between a poor assignment and one that violates your contract. If you believe you’re being treated unfairly or are being asked to go beyond your capabilities on assignment, contact your recruiter immediately. Health Providers Choice is here to advocate for our nurses and ensure they’re treated fairly in every assignment. Contact us today if you have questions or need to discuss your assignment.

About the Author

Rose Torrento

Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.