Before leaping into travel nursing, I had a fresh two years as a nurse under my belt. I worked at one of the best LTC/Rehab facilities in town. We wore all white, we were never short staffed, and we got bonuses throughout the year and the food was AMAZING. I would “forget” my lunch when I worked days just so I could order from the kitchen. At one point early on, I had to float to the rehab unit for the first time. Do you known the ADON came to me at my cart and not offered her help, but insisted. She helped me pass pills as I put in a IV line and hung medications. This was unheard of in most other facilities around. We always had an abundance of supplies, the rehab patients and long term residents were treated like..people..as they should be. You could say I was spoiled, rotten. Along with my prison job, I worked in a few other facilities as agency here and there.
My First Assignment
I was hopeful, excited……and oh so naive. The first thing that hit me when I went through the door was the awful smell. No introductions, no orientation, just chaos. Little did I know, I was going into a reality that most nurses never to get to see. My first time counting off, the narc count was off and the off going nurse didn’t know why and quite frankly didn’t care. Supplies? What supplies? I couldn’t believe it, I was having to give my crushed medications with tongue depressors! As the weeks went by things began to get worse and worse. I was counting down the days.
Surviving The Chaos
Making sure you keep your patients alive, advocate for them, and always make sure you CYA! When I say CYA, I mean CHART! As a traveler you most likely will have a incident of staff or even other travelers trying to throw you under the bus. If you chart properly, I can guarantee that it will save you in the long run. Remember even if you did it and you don’t chart it…it was never really done. Treat your Narcotic book like it’s your life! Missing narcotics are a big problem in many of these places and sadly dishonest travelers and staff are the cause.
Travel nursing is a jungle, most places you go to will be understaffed, overworked, and in the process of being investigated by the state. Many times there is no orientation and no policy overview. You have 35+ patients some with behaviors, g-tubes, tracheotomies , wounds (no wound nurse), and short on CNAs to top it all off. Out of my two years, I’ve only been to one “up to par” facility, I actually couldn’t believe they even needed travel nurses and travel CNAs. As nurses we know we are the patients advocate, if you see something that shouldn’t be going on, remember if you don’t report it then your not doing whats best for your patient. This is so important in the travel setting.
As we all know, healthcare professionals who travel are paid a bit higher than those who do not travel. Being away from home, travel expenses, and much more lead to the increase in pay. Many times you will get hostility from staff, they feel you’re being paid more to do the same job. I’ve found that with most you can just explain to them that you’ve left your home, your family, and traveled hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles to come help them care for their patients. I always inform them that upper management are the ones that request that we come and we are not there to “take their job” we are there to help and to move on to the next place.
Once you find your place in the jungle, learn to navigate the chaos and find where you fit, travel nursing won’t seem so difficult. It can be rewarding, and the places you see along the way will be amazing.