Being a traveling RN or a locum tenens physician can be an incredibly exciting way to see the country. While on the road for your travel nursing jobs, moving from facility to facility can take its toll on your mental and physical health if you’re not careful, especially if homesickness kicks in. It may seem like burnout is inevitable; however, there are some simple ways to fend off burnout and get back to enjoying your time as a traveling medical professional.
Like homesickness, burnout affects all areas of your well-being and can manifest physically, mentally, and emotionally. Signs of burnout include both physical and mental exhaustion, feeling cynical about your new destination and position, and generally feeling blue or unlike yourself. In a 2018 survey by the AMA, research revealed that 42% of physicians experience burnout. If you let these symptoms continue without addressing them, you could risk more serious conditions, including clinical depression.
Here are five simple tips to help combat burnout while on the road:1. Have a life outside of work!
- This is your chance to travel around the U.S. and experience true freedom in new locations. Take a day where you banish all thoughts of work from your mind and go do something you enjoy. If you’re in Texas, try the famous BBQ. If you’re in Alaska, go kayaking with whales. If you’re in Florida, get some vitamin D with a relaxing day at the beach. Whatever your passions are outside of work, a few simple online searches can lead you to an activity you’ll really enjoy in your new home. Your locum tenens health options don’t have to be restricted to diet and exercise. Go enjoy yourself!
- Making sure you’re getting enough sleep can be difficult, but getting too little sleep (less than six hours a night) has been identified as a significant risk factor in developing burnout. The quality of your sleep also has an impact on your restfulness and your exhaustion levels the next day. Create a nightly routine and change up your bedroom conditions so that they are conducive to sleeping well. Purchase a sleep mask to make sure that ambient light doesn’t interfere with your sleep. Invest in a white noise machine or apps for your smartphone and keep your room cool to help you sleep more soundly. It’s all about what works for you, so it’s best to find consistency and develop habits around your preferences to ensure restful sleep.
3. Stick with a routine.
- If you have a standard workout routine, don’t let that slip while you’re away. Join a local gym, or if your home gym is available in your new city, see if you can transfer your membership. It could also be a great way to make some local connections. A balanced diet will also promote your travel nursing health and keep burnout at bay. Take some tips from the new healthy eating pyramid and remember your fruits and veggies, no matter how convenient fatty fast food may be! By keeping some key elements of your “at home” routine, you will help normalize your travel nursing experience, allowing you to get the most out of your time on the road.
- These days there is pretty much an app for everything, including tools to help you maintain your mental health. There are a handful of therapy apps readily available that allow you to reflect on your day and practice breathing and meditation techniques. Some great free meditation and mindfulness apps include Headspace, Calm, Buddhify, and Reflectly. If you are currently chatting with a therapist and are looking for options on the road, there are also teletherapy apps like Talkspace and BetterHelp, which pair you with a counselor and utilize secure text or chat messaging, video, and voice messaging options, depending on your plan and preferences. If you’re a current travel nurse or travel therapy professional with CoreMedical Group, you may also take advantage of our telemedicine counseling services partnership whether you are enrolled in one of our Anthem Medical plans or not!
- Lastly, if you need to talk about anything, your recruiter is always there to lend a listening ear. Having placed hundreds of thousands of travelers from locum tenens physicians to RNs to SLPs, they’ve experienced this before, and aren’t afraid to hear you out and help you find some solutions – especially if you are struggling at your latest facility. Plus, sometimes it just helps to vent and speak to someone who is familiar with your situation. Don’t hesitate to reach out!
Travel nursing can be a rewarding career choice, and if you are aware of your mental health and what you may need to steer yourself away from burnout, staying mentally healthy will be more accessible to you. Remember to check in with yourself regularly and switch up your routine if your joy starts to fade. Traveling is an adventure, and we don’t want you to miss it!