Why It’s OK To Ask Questions as a Travel Nurse

Written by Health Providers Choice on Monday, September 25, 2023 Posted in Travel Nurse Tips


One of the first words we learn as kids is “why.” From our earliest age, we’re programmed to question the world around us. It’s how we learn and grow. Asking questions is how we get the information we need to avoid mistakes — and learn from them.

In healthcare, asking questions is an everyday part of the job. Unfortunately, many travel nurses find themselves afraid or unwilling to ask questions while on assignment. No one wants to look foolish or get a reputation for being dense, but there’s a big difference between that and asking relevant, meaningful questions. In travel nursing, it’s not just OK to ask questions; it’s one of the best things you can do.

Benefits of asking questions

Each new assignment will be a little different, so it’s natural to have questions. Giving yourself the confidence to ask them can make your transition smoother. Travel nurses who’ve mastered the art of inquiry enjoy many benefits, such as:

  • Assignment basics: Each contract and healthcare facility are unique. By asking questions, you’ll unravel the intricacies of your assignment — from the shift and patient demographics to protocols and team dynamics — so you can hit the ground running.
  • Effective communication: Asking questions initiates a dialogue establishing your role on the healthcare team. Clear communication fosters trust and understanding among your fellow nurses.
  • Professional growth: Embracing your learning curve is an act of courage. Asking questions allows you to identify gaps in your knowledge and find opportunities for continuous improvement.

Navigating challenging situations through questioning

Beyond making your assignment transition easier, asking questions can help you overcome challenges in the workplace. It’s inevitable you’ll encounter unfamiliar protocols, conflicts, and delicate patient care scenarios. Curiosity and a willingness to question are powerful assets in navigating them.

Effective patient care depends on your ability to seek answers. Ask questions about responsibilities, processes, and decision-making to keep your patients safe and well cared for. Sometimes, asking “why” about a particular care choice can mean the difference between a positive and negative outcome.

In conflict situations, questions can offer insight into different perspectives, defuse misunderstandings, and establish common ground with colleagues.

Overcoming the fear of asking questions

It’s normal to feel afraid when asking questions. You might be anxious about people perceiving you negatively, feeling like you’re stepping on people’s toes or challenging their authority. You may think asking questions is a sign of inexperience or will disrupt the hospital workflow. But these fears can hinder your progress as a travel nurse.

To overcome your hesitations, start by recognizing that asking questions demonstrates your eagerness to learn and improve. It’s a sign of strength, not a weakness. Learn to frame questions effectively — focusing on the “what” and “how” — to make discussions more productive. Determine the best person to ask, and plan your approach (email, in person, etc.) to get the most effective response.

A supportive work environment is essential too. You must feel safe to inquire without judgment. A hospital culture that encourages questions not only helps you learn and adapt faster but also fosters collaboration and growth.

As a travel nurse, you’re often thrust into each assignment with minimal knowledge. You know how to do your job but not always within the framework of the facility or team to which you’re assigned. Asking questions helps to bridge the gap so you can focus on doing things right — instead of wondering if you’re meeting expectations. Ask questions early and often, and take the time to formulate good ones. You’ll be glad you asked them.

When it comes to questions, your Health Providers Choice recruiter is always ready to provide answers. We know travel nurses face a variety of unknowns between assignments. We’ll help you navigate them with confidence. We welcome your questions. Contact us online or call 888-299-9800 to learn more.

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.