During these conversations, we put special emphasis on being prepared for the cultural differences that could arise both in and outside of work. As a refresher, cultural differences “are the various beliefs, behaviors, languages, practices and expressions considered to be unique to members of a specific location.”
Below, you’ll find some tips we provide our nurses on adapting to cultural differences at their new assignments:
Do your research.
As all nurses know, you can never be too prepared—and even when you think you’re traveling to familiar territory, it never hurts to take the time to research your new city/state’s history, local culture and the issues and topics that are important to the people who live there. Additionally, this will also position you to become familiar with the physical location of your new housing, what’s walkable around it, and where you can find the best service providers for the things you need, like salons/barber shops, gyms, grocery stores, etc.
When you start your new assignment, it will be critical for you to have one-on-one meetings with your colleagues to properly get acquainted and familiar with their work preferences and their backgrounds. Chances are, you’ll have some colleagues who are long-term residents of the location and can give you some insight on not only the work culture, but the community culture as well.
Additionally, unless you’re already familiar with where you’re going already, it will serve you to identify someone who may be willing to show you around your new home. Though we’ve encouraged you to do preliminary research beforehand, seeing your new location through the eyes of a local can provide you with greater context around the local culture.
Be a tourist.
As a travel nurse, you’re presented with the luxury to explore new places. What we find helps our nurses to feel more at home at their new location is to do as the locals do—find out where the people residing in your new city love to go, love to eat and why they love living in that specific location so much. Chances are, you may discover some hidden gems about the place that makes you love it even more!
Even with our most seasoned travelers, we always recommend that our nurses have a plan to manage the cultural differences in their new environment.
Once are arrived and settled in your new home, mark-up your calendar with activities or events occurring in the area that align or speak to your personal interests. For example, if you’re an art enthusiast and there’s an art show happening featuring local artists, this could be a great way for you to bond with your new setting. Furthermore, by actively putting the events on your calendar, it will not only give you something to look forward to, but it will provide you with the added confidence that you know what’s happening in your local community.
As you continue to travel to new places for your assignments, it’s important to remember that as you practice adapting to the cultural diversity at each location, you are also sharpening your emotional intelligence, enabling you to more quickly build trust and rapport with coworkers and patients. It goes without saying that the more work you put into adjusting to cultural differences, the more of this career benefit you can expect with each assignment.