How to Make and Keep Friends as a Travel Nurse

It’s a common challenge faced by travel nurses everywhere: making and keeping friends. Frequent moves can take a toll on maintaining personal relationships and may even throw a wrench into making friends at new locations. Knowing an assignment will only last a matter of weeks can lead to superficial, arms-length relationships that don’t meet our deep need for meaningful connections.

And let’s face it, friendships don’t come as easily as they once did, many moons ago on the elementary school playground. But those in-person connections are worth the effort because they help the settling-in process and are critical to good mental health.

There’s no reason to let friendship challenges  tarnish the thrill of starting an assignment in an exciting new city. Check out these solutions to the making-keeping-friends challenges.

  • Be outgoing in the workplace
    Be intentional about connecting with your short-term co-workers. Jump into the thick of things with a smile and a positive attitude. Don’t wait to see who approaches you and invites you to the team. Introduce yourself, share a genuine enthusiasm for being there, and be physically and mentally approachable.
  •  Visit local hangouts
    The corner coffee shop, the Mom-n-Pop diner, the community ball field, or the library—anywhere the locals hang out offers an easy opportunity to meet people. Of course, don’t forget the workplace cafeteria, snack bar, or coffee café. Make an effort to mingle as you soak up and immerse yourself in the local vibe.
  • Seek a group to join
    Whatever you like to do in your off hours, there are sure to be folks in this new locale who enjoy those same things. So, look for a group related to your interests and hobbies or branch out to learn that new skill or hobby in which you’ve wanted to get involved for years. Utilize the plethora of at-your-fingertips resources available on, where like-minded people find each other.

So, you’ve mastered making new friendly connections, but what about maintaining relationships when assignments separate you from family and friends? 

  • Make video chats part of your schedule
    It’s never been easier to stay in touch than in today’s tech-driven world. What kept us connected during the COVID-19 pandemic can work for folks whose vocation, educational pursuits, or family needs create a physical separation. So continue to deepen the relationship with those co-workers you clicked with at your last assignment with weekly video calls. Be intentional about scheduling Zoom or FaceTime calls. Try to keep it light. Remember, it's mentally exhausting to listen to complaining and negativity. Do your best to steer the conversation toward hopeful notes - upcoming vacations, holidays, workplace successes, or that new thing you discovered to help you achieve a sense of restoration and relaxation. 
  • Sync days off and plan a centrally located meet up
    Plan to spend a long weekend or a string of days off doing something fun with new friends, old friends, or family. Better yet, schedule a vacation between assignments. Travel to where these special people live or arrange a trip together at a relaxing destination. Every minute spent organizing and making the arrangements will be worth the effort.
  • Take nursing assignments in the same city
    Double the adventure of your next (or the one after that) nursing assignment by traveling with a friend. Let your recruiter know that you’d like to be in the same facility or city for your next assignment. Practical benefits such as sharing housing and transportation costs make buddy travel as advantageous as it will be adventurous.

With a bit of thought and effort, travel nurses can have friendships that thrive both near and far.


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