Do You Have the Personality for Travel Nursing?

By Aaron J. Moore, MSN, RN-BC, Ask the Expert blogger for TravelNursing.com

After many years of working as both a staff nurse and a travel nurse, I’ve met all types of nursing personalities. There are the outgoing nurses, the shy nurses, the confident nurses (including some know-it-alls), the hesitant new grad RNs and many more.  In my opinion, nursing needs all of these personalities working together.

Too many outgoing personalities on a unit could cause more conflicts and chaos, but too many shy individuals would mean no one would ever talk.  A good mix is best.

“But what about travel nurses?” people ask me. “Are hiring managers looking for a certain personality type?”

You have all kinds of personalities in travel nursing, but managers looking to hire a travel nurse do tend to look for certain traits.  For instance, it’s important that a travel nurse demonstrates that he or she can learn and adapt quickly, and will maintain professionalism with the manager, staff and patients.

Four important personality traits for traveling nurses:

  1. 1. A strong work ethic. Travel nurses have to remember that even though you may be the hardest worker out there, your new supervisor and colleagues don’t know you personally.  They could take an easygoing, laid-back attitude to mean you might be a little lazy at work.  Starting with your interview and your first few days on the job, make it clear that you are ready and willing to apply your skills, and that you will give this travel nursing job your all.
  2. 2. Clinical competency and team “fit.” As with any nursing job, the manager needs to know that you have the experience and skills to fulfill the job requirements and maintain the best patient outcomes. If you’re dealing with a manager who has had exposure to travelers in the past, he or she probably knows exactly what they are looking for.  So don’t be afraid to ask them what their needs are during the phone interview and then explain how you can meet those needs.
  3. 3. Confidence mixed with flexibility. Travel nurses have to have a certain amount of confidence to come into a new place and quickly adapt to a different way of doing things.  But that doesn’t mean you want to come across as pushy and overbearing.  Sometimes being the quiet RN who comes in, does your work and goes home isn’t a bad thing.  No matter your personality type, you can expect some butterflies on your first day, but be reassured that your recruiter can prepare you ahead of time and offer ongoing support. Your assignment facility will also offer an orientation to get you started and staff mentors and managers to help you succeed.
  4. 4. A “Go team!” attitude. The last thing that a manager needs to deal with is a traveler who makes others uncomfortable with their attitude, or who doesn’t work as a team player.  Managers have enough personality issues to deal with in their own staff! Despite any obstacles you may encounter, start every encounter with a smile and a positive attitude, and remember you are there to fill a staffing need and provide the highest level of patient care possible.

So should outgoing or shy personality types avoid travel nursing?  Not at all!  No matter how you are wired, make sure that as a travel nurse you come off as a confident nurse and a hard worker who will get the job done–and not be a hindrance to the personalities that already exist in any given unit.

And from personal experience I can tell you that travel nursing will introduce you to lots of other great nurses—with all different types of personalities—and many will become lifelong friends.  I wouldn’t have missed the experience for the world!

For more information and tips, get The Travel Nurse’s Guide to Interviewing (e-book) or read Aaron’s Ask the Travel Nurse Expert blog on TravelNursing.com.

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