Travel nursing is a tough career choice with a wide range of unique requirements. Many of these are caused by the fact that the environment in which a travel nurse works is always changing.
Even though nursing is already a stressful profession, it's made even more difficult when you're required to adjust to a new environment, co-workers, and legal requirements on a frequent basis. In the article below, you will learn several handy methods for achieving success as you begin working in a new medical facility.
Getting Your Bearings
Before you can start working in a new location as a travel nurse, you'll need to understand the fundamentals of the facility where you are assigned. For example, you’ll need to understand your job duties and how to perform them to the best of your abilities. You’ll need to know how many patients you will be charged with, the charting requirements, and the layout of the building.
Pay close attention at orientation because a lot of the information you'll need will be explained to you in detail. If you still have questions, look for someone who can help you, such as the charge nurse on duty, fellow nurses, or a higher-up.
Make A Tour Request
You'll most likely be offered a tour of the medical facility at orientation. Having someone show you around is a terrific way to get your bearings. You’ll be able to locate and become familiar with critical features of your workstation, such as supply areas and crash carts. You can also ask plenty of questions on the tour, which can help you become further acclimated to your new role.
If you aren’t offered a tour, why not request one? Doing so shows drive and a willingness to be the best nurse you can be from day one.
Form Relationships with Supervisors Early
Getting in good with the higher-ups in the medical facility should not be seen as sucking up or brown-nosing. Instead, introducing yourself to your superiors shows that you are making an effort to understand the goals of the facility while following the necessary chain of command.
Determine your supervisor's preferred method of communication. Some people prefer to be contacted via phone or text, while others prefer to meet in person. It's critical to ask – not only to keep your boss happy but also to ensure that you'll be able to reach them when necessary.
Ensure That You Are Aware of The Rules
Though many things will appear to be the same when you move between assignments, each medical facility has its own operating standards. Get used to these modifications right away and ask for help from your superiors and peers if necessary, so they can help you become acclimated quickly during your stay.
Don't be afraid to speak up! Facilities recognize that these rapid transitions are tough and expect that you will require assistance along the way. Don't try to figure things out on your own; instead, rely on your supervisor and co-workers to give you direction. Keep key phone numbers in your pocket, such as those for the charge nurse on shift and the hospital nursing supervisor, in case you need help.
These contacts can also come in handy if you’re ever invited back. You may also find you make some friends and acquaintances along the way, which helps make the travel nurse lifestyle a little less lonely.
Obtain A Copy of The Policy and Procedure Manual
Because policies and procedures differ widely from one facility to the next, it's critical to locate and acquaint yourself with them as soon as possible. Ask if there are any "cheat sheets" accessible for easy reference or make your own to keep on hand.
Learn How to Use a Digital Charting System
Each medical facility you work at as a travel nurse will likely have a distinct charting system, which gives a documented medical record of services provided to each patient under your care.
With each project, you may find yourself having to learn a new digital charting system, perhaps in a matter of hours. To help you figure things out quickly, ask co-workers for tips and tricks on how to use the system in place. It might also be a great idea to keep the IT department's phone number on hand in case you need help on the fly.
Pay Attention to Timetables and Scheduling
Hospitals, clinics, labs, and doctor’s offices each have different methods of scheduling travel nurses. You may find yourself floating to various floors or working overtime. Pay attention to who does the scheduling and how it works. You’ll also want to understand how the facility handles call-ins and emergencies when those situations arise.
Bring Everything You've Got to The Table
Even if you'll only be working in one place for a short period, a travel nurse can make a significant contribution to a unit's performance. You may improve a patient's overall experience by offering your best in even the smallest ways. The lesson is to always bring your “A” game. Show up early and be the last to leave for every shift. And always be willing to lend a hand when needed. A travel nurse like that is usually first on the list when it comes to being invited back.
Maintain An Optimistic Outlook
A positive mindset and a cheerful demeanor will go a long way. Wearing a smile, though it may seem insignificant, will make you appear warmer and more approachable to patients and medical personnel. Maintain contact with the other nurses on your floor as well. Learn how they prefer to communicate and be proactive when reaching out. This will allow you to work as a team more efficiently, which will benefit your patients and the medical facility as a whole.
It can be difficult to be the new nurse on duty whenever you start a new contract. It’s best to leave your ego at the door whenever you start a new travel assignment, and during every shift. Assume whenever you start working at a new facility that everything will be different. Don’t be a know-it-all. Instead, ask for help and say thank you when given assistance. This can help you become friendly with co-workers, helping to foster stronger professional relationships.
Become An Excellent Patient Advocate
Travel nurses – and all nurses for that matter – are often the most important voices patients have. No matter where you are, use your voice and opinions, as well as your medical knowledge, to make an impact on the quality of your patients’ care. Even in the midst of turmoil, providing quality care to your patients is critical. Never forget that, even when the going gets tough.
Look Up the HCAHPS Scores for The Facility
Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is a patient satisfaction survey designed to help the government gauge patient perspectives on the quality of care at various healthcare facilities around the country.
What are the results of your unit's questionnaires, and where do you think improvements can be made? Many travel nurses are unaware of how crucial they can be when it comes to improving and sustaining higher HCAHPS scores.
If you find that staff could be more responsive to patients or the unit you work on could be cleaner, don’t be afraid to speak up. Any effort you put in to attain greater levels of patient satisfaction is good for everyone involved, including patients, the facility, and the medical staff.
Find The Crash Cart and Figure Out the Codes
Some medical facilities call them crash carts, while others refer to them as code carts or MAX carts. This is a series of trays, drawers, and/or shelves on wheels that are used to transport and dispense emergency medication and equipment. Patients’ lives may depend on you knowing where the crash cart is during any given shift.
This is information you’ll need to know right away, no matter where you work or what your specialty happens to be. Find out what the facility's codes and policies are once you've located the cart and ask for assistance if you need it.
Inquire About Timecards
Make sure you are clocking in and out each day in the proper fashion. Don’t assume you know how the timecard system works. Once again, every facility is different. You don’t want to lose hours, especially not overtime.
If you work with a travel nurse staffing agency, check to see if you've been given credit for the hours you've worked! Check with your agency on how to submit your timecards and learn how to clock in and out during every shift.
Understand Your Unit's Floating Requirements
Being a travel nurse requires a high level of fast thinking and adaptability, especially given the constantly changing work circumstances. Take floating requirements, for example. As a travel nurse, you may be asked to float to different units within the same facility to cover breaks and staffing shortages. During a floating assignment, you may find yourself handling job duties you aren’t necessarily used to.
While you presumably covered floating requirements during your interview, every facility might have different expectations. To avoid unpleasant surprises, find out what's on the horizon for your schedule so you’re always prepared when the need to float arises.
Schedule Time for Yourself
Working as a travel nurse can be stressful, especially as you go about learning all the new ways a facility has of doing things. Don’t become the nurse that works all the time, even during your time off. When you get days off or even weekends, schedule time to relax.
Travel nursing is exciting in that you get to explore new areas of the country or the world. Take advantage of that fact by doing a little sightseeing. Visit the touristy areas and take lots of pictures and videos to show your family and friends back home. The more time you take for leisurely activities and the more well-rested you are during your time off, the better you’ll be as a travel nurse the moment you arrive back on duty.
Maintain Healthy Habits
Another way to care for yourself is to eat healthily, get the proper amount of sleep at night, and engage in exercise daily. If you hope to be a good travel nurse and care for your patients the way they require, you’ll need to take care of your health needs first.
There you have it. Follow these tips if you hope to get acclimated quickly to any new medical facility as a travel nurse. You’ll need to roll with the punches when they come, which means being extremely flexible, but soon you will get into a groove that is good for your patients, the rest of the staff you’re working with, and the patients under your care.
Want to learn more about being a travel nurse or are you considering joining the long line of travel nurses who have come before you? Join Prolink and we can start you on the path to this rewarding career.