If there's one fear that seems to hold people back from taking the leap to being a traveling clinician, it's the fear of loneliness. I'm here to tell you that although you're always moving and in unfamiliar places, there's no shortage of opportunities to connect with other like-minded people. No matter where you are in life, you're always going to be surrounded by other people to connect with. Life is all about the journey and a big part of that is the amazing people you meet along the way. This career brings the perfect opportunity to meet life-long friends and have life-changing experiences. Whether you're outgoing or the most introverted, I listed a few tricks below for making new friends while on assignment!
There are several benefits of social media that are often overlooked. It's a great platform for networking and discovering new places in your area. Search for hashtags! The city you’re in (#Seattle), a local gathering, a venue, an event, etc, and check out recent posts. I search hashtags for everything and have tons of amazing finds and connections because of it. I use Instagram more than Google when looking for popular destinations in the area.
There's usually Facebook groups that offer a variety of options for getting out and exploring. If you're in a big city, there's most likely a “Seattle Travel Clinician” group that always has meetups going on. Search your hobby followed by the city (ex: Seattle Hiking) and you'll be surprised how many groups exist! The more creative you are with exploring online, the easier and more efficient you'll be in the real world when it comes to finding people and events that you are interested in.
This is such a helpful app when looking for people that are near you that enjoy the same hobbies as you. Some of my best friends are a result of this app and the networking it facilitates! You just create an account with your interests and location and it connects you with other like-minded individuals. The events are usually free and there's usually a lot of them. I especially love this app for finding local groups that plan hiking trips. When I was living in Seattle, there were so many events that it was hard to keep up! This group is designed for strangers to meet and network so don't hold back because you don't know anyone. You have to put yourself out there to meet people!
Connect With Other Travelers
The travel nurse community tends to do a great job of coming together and supporting one another. If you work with other travelers, and you almost always will, there's a good chance you already have a solid support system. It's amazing how our community comes together and creates unity. Network with other travelers and plan events on your days off. It doesn't matter if you don't know each other, you're both looking for the same things – adventure and a friend!
Use Your Local Resources
Ask staff nurses about the local scene. This one is pretty straight forward, but you still have to make the effort. There are usually other nurses with insight into the area and similar interests. They may have more of a “family-life”, but they also have experience in the area. Though not every nurse is the best reference, I've gotten great advice from staff nurses. Also, keep your eye out for bulletin boards and flyers at shops and stores you visit. Yoga studios, coffee shops, and loads of other spots have places where people post info for events and gatherings. These can make great resources and clearly, that's their objective. Ask people you meet and encounter. Just like your coworkers, this may not be a flawless approach since you may not know if the person you're speaking to has similar interests, but they are part of the community you are wanting to participate in, so simply make the effort. Food servers/bartenders, the person you chat with briefly while in line somewhere, basically, any stranger could be an excellent resource. Although it may not be ideal to walk the streets asking people for “things to do”, this needs to be mentioned because it's as simple as talking to people sometimes. Don't hesitate to push your comfort zone a little if you need. Travel nursing is as much about your personal development as any other objective, so if you don't naturally “chat” with people, this is a great place to start.
There has been no shortage of chances to network in my travel nursing career, but hopefully, these ideas give you some starting points where I was in the dark. The world has an infinite amount of interesting things and people for you to connect with, oftentimes, you just need to make the first move.