How to Advocate for Yourself as a Travel Nurse
Travel nurses can sometimes lead a tumultuous professional life. Each assignment can leave you feeling like a stranger in a strange land, and it can take time to find your footing among a new team in a new facility. Often, there’s also adversity to overcome along the way. That’s why learning how to advocate for yourself is an important skill for travel nurses to develop. Not only can it help you find your footing quickly at each new assignment, it also can help you prioritize yourself when the situation doesn’t.
Why nurses need to develop self-advocacy
Especially early in their careers, travel nurses can feel overwhelmed. It’s challenging to adjust to new facilities, schedules, coworkers, and processes every few months. But the more you advocate for yourself, the easier it is to establish a stable foundation at work. It won’t matter where you are — you’ll feel capable of determining what you need and how to achieve it.
Nurses also need to have the confidence and capability to stand up for themselves and communicate their needs in a professional setting. It’s unsafe for nurses and their patients if they’re put in a situation where they’re uncomfortable, burned out, or confused. Self-advocacy is often the only way to resolve these problems.
Learning how to advocate for yourself
There’s no “right way” to advocate for yourself as a travel nurse. It ultimately depends on the situation and your end goal. The first step is to figure out what you want out of the situation. Then, you can identify actionable ways to reach that goal.
For example, you might find yourself on an assignment with a hostile colleague, where bullying or derisiveness causes unnecessary stress. In this situation, advocating for yourself may mean speaking with that colleague or your supervisor. Or, perhaps you’re faced with expectations that are outside the realm of your contract. By self-advocating, you can ensure that you don’t overextend yourself and can ensure expectations, on both sides, are met.
Self-advocacy can even be internal. As a new nurse, you might deal with feelings of doubt or guilt in your professional abilities. Building confidence can help you feel more empowered in your efforts, experience more job satisfaction, and pursue more opportunities.
Self-advocacy is key to professional development
Advocating for yourself is not something everyone can start doing overnight. It is a skill that most people hone over time, and it starts by building confidence – in your morals and values and in your abilities as a nurse. It is a career-defining skill that you’ll carry from assignment to assignment, and can even improve other professional skills, such as communication and organization. By becoming your own best advocate, you will build stronger relationships and be part of solutions that mean a lot to you.
The key to self-advocacy is to not be afraid to ask for what you need, whether it’s help navigating a new department or additional assistance during a busy shift. Advocating for yourself means advocating for your professional needs — and by extension, the needs of your patients.