How to Build Better Relationships With Your Coworkers as Per Diem

Sometimes being a per diem can make you feel like you’re the outsider looking in. Sometimes your coworkers can foster this feeling by giving you the cold shoulder in subtle or not so subtle ways.

This article will give you some tips for improving relationships with coworkers when you’re stepping into a per diem role.

Building Relationships When You’re a Pinch Hitter

A per diem hospital worker is the pinch hitter of the healthcare universe. They step in and do their best to hit it out of the park when a permanent employee is unavailable.

But there are challenges built into the role that regular full-time workers don’t experience. One of them is the effort to build relationships when you come into an established team.

Some people have natural energy that people respond to. But for other per diem healthcare staffers it isn’t so easy. What’s truly terrible is that sometimes we know that the people on the ground could be (perhaps) a bit more welcoming. The issue is so widespread, that the American Nurses Association (ANA) has a position statement on incivility in the profession.

Shelly Gable is a social psychologist at U.C. Santa Barbara. Her work seeks to define positive and negative communications in relationships. Her framework establishes types of communication that build or tear down relationships. For example:

  • Active construction, which is a type of human communication characterized by an enthusiastic and sincere response. Look for direct eye contact and conversations that solicit elaboration and sharing. For the per diem clinician, these are the relationships that make you feel more at home.
  • Passive construction elicits a less enthusiastic response. People that communicate in these ways are quieter or have lower energy. The people that operate in a passive construct are sometimes insincere or apathetic.
  • Active destruction is the opposite of active construction. It is a form of communication designed to stifle your enthusiasm. It can be demeaning or dismissive and it can leave you feeling embarrassed at trying to reach out to form human bonds.
  • Passive destruction takes the form of a coworker that changes the subject without even acknowledging your effort to make a connection.

Understanding these responses is step one when a per diem healthcare worker enters a new environment. But these constructs can also provide per diems with the framework to recognize how hospital workers respond to their overtures. It can help per diems understand how to respond in ways that disarm and engage these workers so that their experience is not of the outsider looking in.

Building better relationships when you’re a per diem worker can be challenging. But meeting and interacting with new teams can also be the best part of the per diem job. Recognizing these opportunities and challenges just comes with the territory when you are a per diem worker. MAS Medical works closely to find the best environment for our healthcare teams. If your current environment isn’t the best fit, perhaps it’s time to talk to us. MAS Medical can help you find a new position, whether per diem or permanent. Talk to our team – we can help.


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