Top 4 Ways Travel Nurses Can Overcome Hospital Cliques

Top 4 Ways Travel Nurses Can Overcome Hospital Cliques


What do college sororities, fraternities, and your workplace have in common? More than you probably would realize. So-called childish behavior does not end once adult life begins. Work cliques are a reality that have to be dealt with and hospitals are no different. But don’t let this scare you; we’ve gathered the top four ways travel nurses can navigate hospital cliques and better enjoy their new co-workers.

Understand Why Workplace Cliques Form

Long, difficult working hours for nurses often encourages survival techniques to get through the shift, so cliques can naturally form. They are not entirely wrong, Time Magazine says, so understanding why they are there is important. Cliques can be positive and helpful. A strong leader within a clique can mentor other nurses, build friendships, and provide stability.

Workplace cliques also form for the wrong reasons. Weak leadership or forced change easily breed discontentment that shows up in the form of passive aggressive groups and gang-like tendencies.

Show Kindness to All People

When you begin a new location as a travel nurse, try to keep an open mind to the change in culture. Northerners, westerners and those “bless your heart” southerners will all be different.

Dianne Gottsman, an Etiquette Expert and Modern Manners Authority, encourages you to get to know everyone, not just those who are venting about their bosses or new regulations. Complainers naturally focus on new employees that have a sympathetic ear, so remember to be cautious.

Start by being friendly to everyone, not just popular people. Cliques live by exclusion, but you can show compassion by doing simple things such as:

  • Giving a friendly smile
  • Asking how their kids are doing in school
  • Checking up on a co-worker after they’ve been sick
  • Offering to help with a difficult procedure
  • Volunteering to pick up something in the cafeteria

Avoid Gossip

Beginning a new assignment is an awkward time. Without realizing it, you may not act like yourself in an attempt to fit in. This is natural because new environments and so much change might tempt you to hot-wire connections quickly to feel like you are part of something. Sadly, gossiping about co-workers and leadership is an easy topic to choose.

Brené Brown, as quoted in the Huffington Post said, “A lot of times, we share things that are not ours to share as a way to hot-wire a connection with a friend. Our closeness is built on talking bad about other people. You know what I call that? Common enemy intimacy.”

Instead of finding a common enemy to build a relationship around, build your friendships on real foundations such as vacation destinations, yoga and exercise, a favorite sports team, pets, a love for coffee, or children.

Vent and Keep Living

13 weeks is the typical travel nursing assignment; if you become overwhelmed with a toxic workplace, remember that it will be over soon. When your time is up, you do not have to renew the assignment; you can choose to leave.

Enduring in silence doesn’t have to be your only response, you can reach out to your recruiter and let them know what is going on. Sometimes just sharing your angst and irritation with a friendly ear can release the emotion.

Remember to keep in touch with friends and family back home to help avoid burnout, as Career Intelligence suggests.

Having other friends, besides your workplace, is very important for a healthy emotional life. Keep in touch via Facebook or Skype. Create insta-stories about your new locations for your friends to see what is happening. Most importantly, remember to rest and relax. Burnout is real, and sometimes you need to get away from hospital politics for a while.


Just because you may encounter difficult situations while on assignment, this does not mean it has to be your only reality. Life exists outside of the workplace, so make sure to get out an explore your new setting. Sign up for a class at the local library, visit new museums and parks, or  attend a arts and crafts fair to meet some local, non-nursing acquaintances.  Travel nursing is about living life to the fullest.

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