Adjusting (Fast) to a New Environment

In the event of starting your contract, provided that you took a new assignment with totally new factors like a new facility, new state, and sometimes a new specialty (although not entirely new since an assignment will require a certain level of experience). What you would certainly want is to get used to all of the new factors that come with the assignment so you can perform at your best. You may not realize it but there are times when a traveler takes a while to make the necessary adjustments and before one does, there’s only a week left in the contract. Unless the facility opts to have you extended, you might miss your chance to perform at your peak after you have fully adjusted to your supposed new environment.

Remember that we are working as a healthcare professional and we would want to make sure that we stay on our peak performance at all times and failure to do so can have undesirable results that would affect your professional license. This may not seem much at first glance but adjusting to your new environment can mean so much more.

Let us take a look at the common pitfalls when it comes to dealing with a new environment and discuss how we can manage it so that we won’t have to dwell on it for too long.

Get enough sleep

You may not realize it at first but you need to make sure that you are able to get enough sleep every single time you are on assignment. This may be quite a challenge at times when you are at home, all the more when you have a new living arrangement. The anxiety of being in a new place and new facility can be totally draining and if you lose sleep over it, it will surely affect the way you perform in the next shifts.

You can start by making sure your living arrangement would allow you to get a good sleep. Consider how comfortable you can be when you are finding a place to stay during your assignment. Here are some things you may consider:

• Foot traffic – (this is especially important if you are on the night shift since you will be sleeping during the daytime). Choose a place where you do not have to hear people coming and going outside your room. Do note that it is much harder to get a good sleep during the daytime compared to sleeping at night.
• Lighting – As much as we would want natural lighting to come into our room, we want to make sure that we can control it in such a way that we can allow light to come in when we want to but be free to still block it out when we need to get some sleep. If need be, you can always get a dark colored curtain or you can go a step further, get a sleep mask.
• Noise level – Needless to say we need peace and quiet when we are trying to rest. So our dwelling should have a tolerable level of noise both from movement outside and possibly any activities from our neighbors. It would also help if you get a white noise machine to drown out some of the unwelcome noise you might encounter when you are trying to sleep.

Get to know your facility more

It would really help if you make an effort in getting to know your facility as soon as you get the chance. You can do the following after orientation to make sure you get used to working in the facility. Surely there may be some quirks here and there that will not be covered during orientation so it would be best to do your due diligence to make your life easier while you stay in the facility.

Timekeeping – This should be discussed during orientation. Please make it a point that you remind your trainer to spend enough time making sure that everyone is familiar with the facility’s timekeeping. This can vary from completely automated to a bit more traditional pen and paper filing system. This should help you make sure that you do not encounter any concerns on the matter.
• Get to know your HR – you may not realize it but it is really helpful to get to know the go to person for human resource concerns. It would also be helpful if one could browse through the facility employee handbook. It is a sad reality that not all facilities are actually that “friendly” when it comes to travelers so the best way to go about it is to make sure that you do not overstep any boundaries and keep your nose clean.
• Interact more – I understand this could be an introvert’s nightmare but it would really help if you are seen more by the staff. Start with small greetings here and there and if you can, throw in a smile. You would be surprised how things would be more familiar if you have colleagues who are more at ease working with you.

Get to know the locality

If you find yourself working a 36 hour a week contract then you will definitely have a lot of time in your hands. Having four days in a week off should be more than enough to really explore the locale. Much like when you are trying to familiarize yourself with the facility, get to know the key points in the vicinity. To make things easier, try to picture your whole day when you are at home. What do you do first? Where do you get your favorite breakfast sandwich? Find a good coffee stand. Do you have a route that you do when you go for a run?

If you find yourself in a new locale (which you obviously would if you take on contract after contract). Find yourself good replacements for your daily routines. You would need new laundromats, a new breakfast place, a new coffee shop, and even a new bar to hang out when you want to blow off some steam.

Create a healthy routine

If you did not have one, then this will be a great time to start. Think of it as a clean slate. A chance to reinvent whatever you deem needed improvement in your home life, you have the chance to do things better when you are on assignment. This is not going to be a lot to ask from yourself but here are some things you can look into:

Exercising more
Eating healthier
Sleeping more

This may not happen overnight but if you are aware of what you are looking for then you can adjust to it sooner. You do not have to wait for things to fall into place before you start really enjoying your assignment. This is no longer about adjusting to what you had back home in order to function more efficiently. It is reinventing yourself. Drop the non-essentials and pick up the things that are good for you. This is a great chance for you to make changes in gaps. You can treat your assignment as a trial for what is good for you until you come up with the best routine and stick with it.

As I have mentioned before, you must do everything in your capability to take care of yourself in order to stay at your best while at work. Don’t forget that if you do your best and the facility notices, you will have a better chance at an extension and you will be able to enjoy all the work you have put in at the beginning.

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