Your First Strike: What to Expect

By Becky Todzia, BSN, RN, Clinical Nurse Manager, ActionStaff

The unique world of strike replacement nursing is exciting, rewarding and unlike any other field of nursing employment out there, but there are some things to keep in mind when considering working a strike. Before you accept a strike contract, make sure that it fits your personality, abilities and style of nursing care. Read these 10 expectations so that you are fully aware of how things are managed while working a strike for ActionStaff:

1. Expect that you will most likely have a roommate. Unlike a travel assignment, you will be required to stay at the hotel that your agency provides, and you’ll also be assigned a roommate. Please be mindful of your roommate’s needs and space as you would want them to be of yours. You are a team!

2. Expect to put in 60+ hours per week. During a crisis, it is imperative to be flexible and understand that it is imperative for staffing needs to be met to ensure sufficient care of the patients in the facility.

3. Expect to come alone. Due to shared housing and security, you will not be able to bring a pet or any family members with you and oftentimes, getting your own room is not an option.

4. Expect to hit the floor running. Management will be available, but preceptorship or unit orientation that is common for a travel assignment will not be available during a strike, so you will need to use all of your expertise starting from the get-go. Your co-workers and patients will expect you to be confident, self-sufficient and highly skilled in your nursing abilities. This is why a minimum of two years of nursing experience in your specialty is required and also why nurses with previous strike experience are preferred.

5. Expect to possibly “make do”. Depending on where the strike is taking place, the availability near your hotel for dining, shopping, groceries and entertainment may be very limited and you may not have the luxury of finding exactly what you want or need near you. Grab some of your new nurse friends and order an Uber!

6. Expect to make some lasting friendships. Through the unique experiences that you will have with fellow strike replacement nurses, there is a special camaraderie which allows for some fun and interesting memories. Be sure to keep in touch with your new friends for the next strike!

7. Expect to be VERY flexible. You will need to be flexible concerning time, communication, transportation, housing, scheduling, food availability at certain times, floating to other specialties that you are experienced in, etc. You just have to “go with the flow” during a strike.

8. Expect to take care of yourself as much as possible. After your shift to go back to the hotel, go straight to your room to change out of your scrubs, and to be careful with your time management so that you get enough sleep that you need to properly function during the busy work week. Don’t underestimate how vital it is to keep hydrated, get plenty of sleep, destress (exercise, pool, hot tub), try to eat healthy as best that you can and to intake Vitamin C to boost your immune system.

9. Expect to be discreet. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is that you keep your strike employment to yourself while traveling at the airport, in public transportation and Ubers, at restaurants, in the hotel common areas, and everywhere else in-between. NEVER disclose to others that you’re in town for the strike. Be mindful of your surroundings and make sure that others know where you are headed out to while sightseeing, dining out, etc. Safety and security are of utmost importance while on site for a strike.

10. Expect to be respectful and professional. Whether it’s towards ActionStaff management, hospital management, hotel staff, your roommate, or anyone else – you are expected to be considerate AT ALL TIMES. It can be a highly stressful situation during a strike, but our nurses are expected to maintain a high ethical standard at all times. Enjoy your time in the new city, take great care of the patients, and leave the community with the best impression of strike replacement nurses possible. You will be appreciated!