Connecting with Full-time Staff as a Per Diem Nurse
It’s your first day on your new Per Diem assignment...
You’re excited about the new opportunity and to experience life at a new facility; you may not be quite as excited about once again being the newbie on your shift.
Connecting with the full-time staff at your temporary facility can be a daunting task, especially when your tenure is intentionally designed to be short-lived. But it’s also one of the most important things to ensure your happiness and satisfaction as a per diem nurse.
We talked with six RNs about their experiences with the relationship between per diem and full-time nurses. Here are some of their suggestions on how to connect with your colleagues and make a good first impression.
Introduce yourself and ask questions.
A firm handshake and a big smile can go a long way toward making a good first impression with your new colleagues. Be sure to introduce yourself with your full name and say hello to everyone on your floor or in your department, not just your fellow nurses.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. While it’s true that you bring a wealth of clinical experience to your role, you are learning a new facility with new procedures. You may not know where necessary supplies are kept.
The nurses that we talked to said while asking questions may cause you to feel self-conscious, overall, their asks were well-received by charge nurses, especially if they maintained a positive attitude.
When it comes to your first-shift experiences, the RNs that we consulted offered a wide variety of situations depending on your experience and liability expectations.
If you come to the job with lots of clinical experience, you may be given tougher patient cases.
Or … you may be given patients that may not require acute care, but are difficult to work with.
“I definitely was given more difficult patients (at first),” Joseph said. “Once they test you, things settle down though.”
Or … you may have an experience like Nilo, who noticed that “they usually give easier assignments to per diem nurses to minimize possible mistakes.”
Will your initial shifts be difficult or easy? It’s hard to tell. So, it’s best to be prepared for anything, especially in your first couple of shifts.
“You have to learn to adapt quickly,” Andrew said.
Be assertive … but not bossy.
One RN suggested that demonstrating competence and confidence was key to her success in connecting with colleagues, especially when the immediate welcome from the full-time nurses was not quite as warm as she had hoped.
“At first some of my colleagues were difficult,” Sara said. “I just show them that I know my stuff. It gets better.”
“I try to jump in like I am staff and show that I am a team player,” she said.
But … there’s a fine line between being assertive and being bossy. The phrase “I’ve always done it this way” will not help your cause in building rapport on your first shifts. It’s better to hold off until you’re a bit later into your contract before offering strong suggestions, and even then you’ll want to gauge how open your department is to receiving suggestions from someone who is filling a temporary role.
This may seem obvious, but a great way to make a good first impression with your new colleagues is to be willing to pitch in whenever and however needed.
“Being helpful goes a long way,” Andrew said. “They are usually understaffed and grateful that you’re there.”
Your first shifts at your new assignment may be challenging, but always remember to take a deep breath and focus on your patients. By maintaining a positive attitude and confidence, you’ll be on your way to connecting with your new colleagues.