You did it! You took a huge leap of faith hiring your first travel clinician to staff a critically open position at your facility. That challenge alone can be daunting!
There's a common misconception that travel clinicians are just contractors who have no emotional connection with your facility's unique mission and values. This simply is not true in the majority of cases. Many travelers choose to stay at their favorite facilities for up to a year, and even hire on as staff after an assignment is completed. There are some, however, who do not connect with their host facility and move on to the next assignment - nothing personal - but the best hospitals are able to attract and retain their travelers for multiple assignments. With that ideal outcome, the workload is reduced on the staffing department and there is a smoother flow when travelers are needed.
Assembling and retaining a great team of travelers is critical to the efficiency of the staffing process. Becoming a travel-friendly facility only helps in this process! Here are 5 steps to improving your chances of becoming a favored travel-friendly facility.
Step One: Setting Expectations
Organization is a hallowed principle to every traveler and it is the key to success in the traveling business. Each traveler’s ability to organize their entire assignment will directly correlate to its ultimate success. Setting the right expectations from the beginning will give any prospective traveler an insight to what they might expect on assignment.
Where does organization start? The Job Order. Each job order we receive at FlexCare is unique and different. The more details about the assignment the better. It gives our recruiters the ability to educate our clinicians on the exact details of the assignment and thus set their expectations correctly from the beginning. Details can include but are not limited to: work schedules, shift times, weekend work required, floating policies, time-off restrictions, patient population and unique trending cases. This information greatly enables our ability to make sure that each clinician booked to work at your facility has all available information to guarantee them a successful assignment.
Organizing the details reduces the possibility of future issues that sometimes arise when a clinician gets to their assignment without knowing major aspects of the job.
When it comes to setting expectations, our motto is, "There is never too much information we can provide to our clinicians." This approach allows us to inspire them to envision exactly what their assignment with you will be like!
Step Two: Pulling Out the Welcome Basket
This can be the most influential way to connect with a new traveler at any facility. We believe that every person is seeking a place of employment that truly values their contribution to the organization. When employees feel valued in their position, their ability to go above and beyond the call of duty is strengthened. Starting off on the right foot is paramount to the success of any assignment as a traveler. How can you achieve this? Welcome Baskets/Gifts! Traveling is a lifestyle of ever-changing facilities, co-workers, friends, and faces. This can be intimidating to most. The best way to lower fears and anxiety is to make each traveler feel a part of the team. Get creative and use the power of your organization. Branded water bottles/tumblers, key chains, pens and ID card clips make great gifts for any new traveler to enjoy while on assignment.
Contrary to most stereotypes, travelers love to be a part of the mission and will absolutely invest their heart into facilities that bring them into the fold and make them feel a part of their team.
Budget challenged? These welcome gifts don’t need to be complicated, they can be as simple as a card signed by members of their assigned unit with a few smaller, practical items. Or you can get extravagant and organize a basket with lots of goodies for your new traveler. How about a pizza party or potluck for the unit to welcome a new traveler? Any effort to make a new traveler feel a part of the team will not be wasted effort!
Step Three: Preparing Your Stressed and Overworked Staff
An important step for any unit is the preparation of your core staff for an incoming traveler. The misconceptions that are floating around among staff clinicians about travelers is very common. In an effort to clear the air, setting expectations with your staff will help everyone work as a team. Travelers are brought in to help hospital units in their time of need. However, the perceived differences in pay between travelers and staff can drive a wedge between them. Travelers are there to help, not take over, and most know that. Explain to your core staff why they are receiving a traveler and what that means to their overall wellbeing: less stress, less patient workload, better staffing ratios and an overall better patient care experience.
Address any grievances with staff before the traveler arrives.
Making sure each staff clinician feels heard and valued can dramatically help morale in the unit before the traveler arrives. It also enables the traveler to start and work in a welcoming environment free of drama and awkwardness. All efforts to provide validation to your core staff will help increase the chances of success in the unit.
Step Four: Creating a Team Atmosphere
Once your traveler has settled in, you can now begin to create a more unified atmosphere on the unit. If this happens organically without effort, don’t interfere. However, if you are sensing any division or lack of unity, you can consider ways to bring the team together. A few of the following ideas are sure to encourage unity:
- Potluck meals during shift
- Unit outings on the town
- Exercise groups
- Hiking together
- Going to see a show together
- Game night
It doesn’t need to be extravagant, it just needs to include everyone!
Step Five: The Big Send Off!
The ultimate goal is to create an experience for the traveler that encourages them to stay as long as they can. However, regardless of their length of stay, at some point they will likely move on to their next assignment. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t want to return later, and that's something that could save you additional time down the road. As a way to honor their contribution to your organization, I highly recommend throwing them a going away party or giving them a small gift. It could also be as simple as acknowledging them with a heartfelt letter that is sent to their staffing company. They and you will LOVE it!
Travelers are part of a tight-knit community and they are always sharing their experiences with fellow travelers.
Any gesture that acknowledges their time with you will not go unnoticed. They will talk to their traveling friends about how your facility was a fantastic traveling experience. Plus, they will be more likely to want to work at your facility again in the future. A little appreciation goes a long way!
I hope you're encouraged in your pursuit to become a travel-friendly facility! If you have ideas that can add to this list, we would love to hear them.
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