Flexibility, Adaptability, Patience and Enthusiasm
All of the above traits are very important on relief trips! I believe that each warrants a word when it comes to relief work.
Flexibility – Be very flexible with your expectations. Despite a given itinerary, on some trips the plan changes as soon as you land. Timelines often fall apart and days may run very late with earlier mornings then expected. Transportation may not always be on time, and this may change plans. Keep in mind you are often working in an unfamiliar environment. Expect the unexpected.
Patience – Be patient and expect delays, long days and nights, and communication barriers.
Adaptability – I cannot stress this enough. Be prepared to work outside your normal work skills and parameters. For example, this might mean you doing wound care rounding on medical patients or seeing pediatric patients when you are an adult internist. For a nurse, this may mean working with adults despite being a pediatric nurse. Be a team player, and don’t complain about duties assigned to you. Often everyone is working a bit out of their norm when it comes to relief work. Work as a team and assist in anyway you can when out in the field.
Enthusiasm – Get excited about your trip and show it in the field. Get plenty of rest prior to your trip, for you may be working long hours. However, proper rest at night can sometimes be difficult depending on the environment you are working in.