By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
Over my last four years being an active member of the travel nursing community, I have used Facebook groups for a lot of different purposes. From moderating to help a friend out, to running my own group, to utilizing the knowledge of experienced travelers within certain groups–I really have seen the good, bad, and ugly that comes with online communities.
While there can be a lot of drama and “keyboard warriors” who can get a little nasty, there is a lot of good that can come out of travel nurse Facebook groups as well. It can be a great way to network, meet people in your area, and educate yourself if you know how to sift through the not-so-great stuff.
You don’t necessarily need to spend a ton of time on Facebook to get benefit from the travel nursing groups. A lot of them already have threads that may cover exactly what you have questions about, so be sure to start with the “search” function at the top of the group. Use more basic terms first, then try to narrow your search from there.
Another important thing to note is the size of the group. The larger the group, the harder it may be to sift through the bad advice and find useful information. Another piece of this is knowing that larger groups are extremely hard to moderate. Generally speaking, every Facebook group has a few people running it who are in charge of shutting down negative conversations or removing members who are consistently disruptive. However, if you have 90,000 members posting and commenting, it can be really hard to stay on top of every single thing that is posted.
Smaller groups, on the other hand, may not have as much variety of information. The scope of experiences can be a bit more narrow, or if the group is really small (think less than 1,000 members), it may not have enough activity to get lots of interaction if you need to ask a question.
Also, take note of who is operating the group. Running a Facebook community takes a surprising amount of time and dedication if you want it to be successful, so most people running them are benefitting from the group somehow. There is nothing wrong with this at all, it is just a good idea to know if the person moderating is taking certain actions because they represent a specific company or brand. Knowing who the moderators are can also help you judge their credibility and knowledge if they are helping you with any concerns.
You can also skip any actual activity within the group by starting with the group files. At the top of the group, just below the header photo, there are a few different pages you can open up. One of these is a “Files” page where the group administrators can add documents or PDFs that they feel are beneficial to the members. This can include lists of trusted recruiters, questions to ask during job interviews, or even something simple like favorite hairstylists in each city.
These are great as well because you can download them to your phone or computer and keep them as quick references or even pull them up when it comes time to interview!
As for any negative or rude people you come across in Facebook groups, my best advice is just to ignore them. Some of these people are experienced travelers who have a bit more negative outlook and feel called upon to “warn” others of all the negative sides of travel nursing. Others may simply enjoy firing people up and watching the result. Chances are, engaging with any of these people will produce the same effect as engaging with your great-uncle Fred about politics–nobody will get anywhere and everyone will be mad. These are the sort of comments you just need to filter out and move on to the actually helpful content.
And the other great thing is there are some Facebook groups that are just for fun! One of my favorite ways to connect with other travel nurses in the area is to look for a Facebook group specifically for travel nurses in “X” city. So, for example, when I was in Phoenix I searched “travel nurses Phoenix” and filtered out groups and found this group where I was able to find a bunch of people nearby. Travelers were constantly posting group hikes, happy hours, and other events to get people together on their days off.
Facebook may not be everyone’s favorite social media platform these days, but it can have its uses when it comes to making friends or getting educated online. There is so much available in terms of function within the groups that it is hard to use another platform to accomplish the same goal. Don’t blow off Facebook groups completely, just go in prepared on how to wade through the useful vs non-useful information, and be sure to skip the drama!
Alex McCoy currently works as a pediatric travel nurse. She has a passion for health and fitness, which led her to start Fit Travel Life in 2016. She travels with her husband, their cat, Autumn and their dog, Summer. She enjoys hiking, lifting weights, and trying the best local coffee and wine.
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