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How to Be a Team Player as a Per Diem Nurse

By Megan Murdock Krischke, contributor

Nursing is not a solo act, even for per diem nurses who may spend relatively short periods of time on a unit. Whether you are doing per diem nursing for one hospital or working per diem jobs at different facilities with the assistance of a nurse staffing agency, the best way to make it a great experience is to learn the art of being a team player.

Team-required trust

Dana Brownlee suggests per diem nurses can build trust by making the effort to get to know the staff.

“One of the simplest and most effective techniques for gaining trust is just getting to know people,” explained Dana Brownlee, corporate trainer and founder of Professionalism Matters. “A sales saying that I often reference is, ‘Know Me, Like Me, Trust Me.’ Generally, you need to know a person to like them, and like them to trust them, so a few simple icebreaker questions such as, ‘Where are you from?’ and ‘How long have you worked here?’ can go a long way.”

Dawn Nieman, BSN, director of nursing and central staffing at Beaumont Health in Michigan, adds that per diem nurses can gain trust by ensuring a positive patient experience, displaying a positive attitude and exhibiting strong customer service skills. “Additionally, seeking opportunities to help others and showing a willingness to be flexible show that you are a team player.”

“Ask others for help occasionally,” encouraged Brownlee. “Everyone likes to be valued/admired for their expertise so allow yourself to be a little vulnerable and ask for assistance.”  
For example, Brownlee suggested that a per diem nurse might say: "’I'm new here and not sure how your clinic typically does ‘X’. Would you mind walking me through this process so that I can do it correctly?"

Not only does asking for help increase trust, it shows your willingness to learn and to invest in good communication.

Asking others for help occasionally can be effective for per diem nurses to show their willingness to learn

Offer your best

If you are working per diem jobs with a nurse staffing agency like Nursefinders, you will have the opportunity to experience best practices in different hospitals. Sharing about a great system or solution you saw in another hospital can communicate that you are paying attention and that you want the best for this hospital, too.

“Be proactive, willing to pitch in, and volunteer to help improve a process when you see something needs attention,” suggested Brownlee.

At the same time, per diem nurses should be sensitive about when to speak up and how to do it, so they are not perceived as a “know-it-all” on the first day.

Brownlee cited an example of the right way to offer suggestions: “If there's a new online records management system and everyone seems to be forgetting to input vitals on a certain screen before the patient is seen, ask if it would be helpful if you made a quick Post-it note to put on the machine so everyone remembers. If you're worried about appearing too pushy with a suggestion, ask it as a question instead of making a statement.”
Example: “Jean, I know I've sometimes forgotten to input the vitals on this screen and was thinking about putting a reminder on the machine. Is that something you think could be helpful for others?”

Dawn Nieman says per diem nurses can show they are team players with strong communication.

“I am always impressed by a nurse’s ability to adapt to new environments and exercise confidence when practicing their skill set,” affirmed Nieman. “I am turned off by a lack of engagement with the organization, lack of follow through, overconfidence and/or a lack of teamwork.”

Per diem nursing is all about helping the organization where you are placed.

Nieman suggests asking the physicians, nurse managers and others that you support exactly how you can help.
Example: “I realize that I'm new to working with you so I just wanted to see if there's anything I could be doing to make things easier for you?”  

“They will love you and you will stand out from the crowd for sure,” she explained.

“We recognize our per diem nurses as valued team members. I recommend each nurse know and understand the health care organization’s mission, vision and values. A per diem nurse will achieve greater success if she or he is expert in their practice and specialty and demonstrates the ability to provide safe and high quality care to patients,” concluded Nieman.


Looking for per diem jobs? Nursefinders’ staffing professionals will find the right jobs for your specialty and your schedule. Contact the office nearest you today.



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