5 Ways Healthcare Staffing Agencies Can Help Traveling Nurses Feel at Home on the Road
Roughly every three months, a traveling nurse packs their bags and heads for the next destination in need. Though three months may seem like just enough time to get settled, many traveling nurses don’t even get that; some move on after as little as eight weeks on a given contract.
And it’s not just the near-constant moves that can make it hard for traveling nurses to ever feel at home. Many contracts are in high-need areas, so even if the contract is long enough for them to get the lay of the land, the emotional toll can keep them from ever feeling relaxed.
On some contracts, nurses might also work longer hours than they otherwise would, leaving them with little time to meet people or make their new locale feel like home.
That’s where traveling nurse agencies can step in. Agencies can and should get creative to help their nurses feel at home. And, as a result, keep nurses doing what they love.
Here are five ways agencies can help their nurses feel more at ease on assignments:
1. Encourage Bonding Between Coworkers
Travel nurse rates are skyrocketing, especially as the healthcare community struggles to keep up with COVID-19. One hospital in Pasadena, California, spent as much as 32% more on traveling nurses in 2020 than they did in 2019. This represents not only a huge opportunity for traveling nurse agencies, but also for the nurses themselves as it means they’ll rarely be out on contract alone.
Fellow healthcare workers can be the family many nurses miss while out on the road. Take extra steps to connect nurses on the same contracts or on contracts in nearby areas. Facilitate a happy hour, organize a weekend activity or introduce the nurses before they even get where they’re going.
Helping nurses find a local support system that can actually understand the unique triumphs and stressors of travel nursing can make it easier for your nurses to feel well-connected everywhere they go.
2. Provide Mental Health Benefits
Though nurses are expected to be the friendly faces at every patient’s bedside, it’s a taxing job, and many nurses understandably struggle with mental health. A July 2020 survey of nurses in one Canadian province found that 47% of nurses struggled with post traumatic stress disorder, 41% faced depression and another 60% experienced high emotional exhaustion. The COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated all of these mental health outcomes, but it’s not completely at fault.
Negative mental health outcomes for nurses were actually correlated with poor workplace relations, organizational support and organizational preparedness, all of which can be impacted by traveling nurse agencies. Not to mention the high rates of loneliness, isolation and burnout nurses may face while on contract.
Since mental health is as important as physical health, agencies can offer benefits to support their nurses through the difficulties of life on the road. Make it easy for nurses to access therapy or other mental health support so that they can get help when they need it. After all, happier, healthier nurses are better nurses.
3. Offer Flexible Assignments
Sometimes, there’s just no place like home. Yet many traveling nurse agencies overlook where home is–to the detriment of their nursing team. Since contracts can pop up almost anywhere, helping nurses take contracts closer to home can do wonders for morale.
Though nurses do have a say in which contracts they take, agencies can make it easier to mix up contracts in far away places with contracts a little closer to home. Where there’s a contract, there’s a way, so agencies should pay attention to where their nurses call home and whether or not they can get them there.
This can be a win for both nurse and agency, since agencies can still fill contracts while nurses will feel supported by (and loyal to!) their organization.
4. Help Nurses Get to Know Their New Locale
A thirteen-week contract might not be quite enough time for a traveling nurse to be considered a local, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get to know the area like one. Helping travel nurses get to know their new home away from home can actually help them feel more connected to the place. Though agencies might think that educating nurses on their destination is a hassle, it can lead to greater satisfaction among the nursing team.
Put together guides for your most common/recurring contract locations so traveling nurses have a head start. Better yet, book them lodging close to the best things to do, see, and eat so they don’t have to waste their precious free time on the commute.
Agencies can even go the extra mile by connecting traveling nurses with other agency nurses who’ve been to that location before. This can be a great way for nurses to pick each other’s brains for the best pre-shift coffee stop, the best post-shift beer run, and even the best really-missing-home comfort foods.
5. Find Lodging That Feels Like Home
All hotels are not created equal, especially once you stay there for more than a quick overnight. Booking lodging meant for a pit stop can quickly become a nightmare for people like traveling nurses who have to make that hotel their home. Agencies can go a long way towards helping their nurses feel at home simply by booking the right hotel.
Amenities like on-site laundry, high-end coffee makers, and televisions with streaming services can help nurses feel like they’re actually at home. Try to find services and amenities that meet or exceed what a traveling nurse might want were they sitting in their own living room. Don’t skimp on the location, either–sticking traveling nurses with a lengthy commute eats up what little free time they do have.
Lodging solutions who are familiar with working healthcare staffing agencies, like Hotel Engine, can help take the guesswork out of booking the right hotels at the right price. Browse Hotel Engine’s network of more than 700,000 hotels around the world, filterable by price, amenities and location. Since you can also visualize all business bookings in one place, you’ll be able to more efficiently find lodging options for every nurse–and streamline all the billing and reconciliation required of long hotel stays.
No matter what you do to try to help your traveling nurses feel more at home, it’s guaranteed they’ll appreciate the sentiment. Nursing is an admirable job, and also an exhausting one. Aiding in providing ease to the travel will help them better focus on the important work at hand.
Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine’s audience and cultivating the company’s brand voice. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby Rockies with her dog, Albie.