2020 is the year of the Nurse. However, 2020 has been a challenging year for the nursing industry and nurses. No one imagined for nurses to be the ultimate backbone of holding the states up during the pandemic.
Travel Nursing is challenging! Adding on the stressors of the pandemic, not being able to visit family, and dealing with racial injustices makes it even more challenging.
A few weeks ago, a new travel nurse approached me and expressed to me how she had a full meltdown at the end of her shift. This is her very first travel assignment. She is an experienced nurse, but I am unsure how long she has been a nurse. And this was her second day off of orientation.
Disclaimer: Not everyone experiences this during their assignments.
Before she could tell me her story, I already knew what went on because everyone on the unit (staff) were talking about it the next day shift. She was frustrated that there is no help on the unit and did not understand how the charge nurse did not help her with her patient load. She received an admission after she requested for the charge nurse to assign the patient to someone else. She stated how she was drowning with her unstable patient and did not want to receive a new admission during shift change. There are more factors that went on in the situation that will not be discussed.
My approach was simply empathizing with her and sharing my experiences on the unit. Not everyone experiences the same things. And as a travel nurse, sometimes you are asked to perform as though you have eight arms and legs. The conversation went on by me explaining to her what travel nursing is and how the facilities need us to help with their staffing issues. I later gave her three factors that I researched before becoming a travel nurse.
Why Travel Nursing May Not Be For You!:
Being a New Nurse: Being a new nurse is already tough within itself. In my opinion, having one year of experience is not enough to become a travel nurse. You may feel confident in your practice and competent in what you do. However, you may have not experienced enough for the limitations of being a travel nurse. You may be provided with one day of floor orientation to familiarize yourself with the unit. After the one day of orientation, you will have your own assignments and be asked to practice as if you are a staff nurse.
No Flexibility: The first thing a recruiter or manager will ask you before approving you for an assignment is if you are flexible. This could mean having flexibility in your work schedule. This could also be flexibility in your working environments and floating. I have had a time where I floated mid-shift to a different unit due to low census or short staffing. The facilities are not able to send travel nurses home in the middle of the shift so they will float you. And most of the time it is to a unit where you are not contracted. You could also be canceled the day of your scheduled shift and the facility has the right to cancel you for a shift or for the remainder of the contract. This is why being open-minded and knowing that these things are possible is important.
You do not Adapt Well: Nurses that begin travel nurses are more likely to travel in states outside of their homes. All states have different policies, procedures, and regulations. With this being said, travel nurses should have the ability to adapt to changes. Many things may be different from your home state. There will be different equipment and different ways to practice. For instance, in one facility you may be asked to pick up a unit of blood products. In another facility, you may be asked to send a form to the blood bank and retrieve the blood through the tubing system. This is why asking questions during orientation is important.
Before becoming a travel nurse, PLEASE do your research. It is not the same as being a staff nurse. There are many challenges that travel nurses face, and if you are not in the right mental or physical state, travel nursing may not be for you. Never be discouraged! Always ask questions!!