Nurses of all kinds can benefit from developing their leadership skills, even if they don't ever end up working in a management role. Such skills help you work well with other nurses, adapt to new environments and make your clinics or hospitals better places. However, travel nurses face the unique challenge of establishing themselves in changing settings. But that doesn't mean you can't hone your abilities. Here are a few tips for training your leadership skills on assignment:
Learn from others
While travel nurses have to adjust to new settings, they also experience benefits long-term staff members don't: They are exposed to more techniques, practices and people. If you're a travel nurse, take advantage of this by working closely with your peers. Find out what they do differently and why. Seeing what works and what doesn't up close allows you to develop your practice and, in turn, offer advice to other health care professionals.
To get the most from these opportunities, be active. Ask your peers questions about their techniques, encourage feedback, communicate openly and share your own knowledge. The back-and-forth discussions you'll have will help you grow.
Great leaders are effective communicators. They get all of the necessary information across and ensure no one is confused. Good communication isn't a skill you're born with; it's one you learn. Travel nurses have plenty of opportunities to practice clear and concise communication. Because you have to navigate unfamiliar situations, you'll have to become comfortable getting information and reporting in. Be proactive by assessing situations in which communication was either seamless or broke down. What went right? What went wrong? How can you improve in the future?
Get a different perspective
Another benefit of being a travel nurse is that you're often removed from some of the issues in your workplace. Whether there's drama or politics happening, you are often not affected by it. This puts you at an advantage. Those sorts of things can get in the way of career development and providing the best possible care. The more you can remove yourself from such situations and encourage others to focus on what really matters – helping patients – the more positive of an influence you'll be. Bringing a new attitude to your workplace is a sign of being a strong leader – at least culturally. What's more, when you travel somewhere new and encounter the same problems, you'll know how to handle them.
"Continued education can mean better nursing outcomes and higher-paying roles."
Use your downtime
If you're in between assignments or not getting as many shifts as you usually do, make use of the extra time. You can take classes that further your career goals, whether that's earning additional certifications and degrees or moving toward a role as a nurse leader. In fact, the Journal of Professional Nursing recommended industry leaders evaluate how it can encourage nurses to continue their education. A more advanced degree can mean better nursing outcomes and a higher-paying role.
Much like nurses can learn from other health practitioners, you can expand your skill set by working with different equipment and technology. Due to variations in funding, one clinic or hospital you work in might have certain tools while others have something totally unique. If you ever come across equipment, machinery or software you've never used, ask for training and become familiar with it. In addition to knowing how items work, pay attention to how they're applied. This will expand your knowledge and allow you to become a leader in other assignments where you're the authority on such equipment.
Being a travel nurse affords you opportunities many other health care professionals will never have. Make the most of them by becoming a leader in your industry, whether you move into management or become the best nurse you can be.