advice

Surviving Your Shift 101

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8-12 hours is a long time in patient care world. Even the strongest of nurses can have moments of overwhelming stress and frustration. Here’s my tips for surviving those shifts when you feel like doing everything but smiling!

  • Get organized! Tasks can pile up in a matter of minutes; so, organization is key to keep things from going haywire. Learn to best prioritize your care. Find out the best way you keep things prioritized and plow ahead during your shift. If it helps, ask a more experienced nurse about how to prioritize your to-do list.
  • Get help! No one person can do it all alone. Teamwork is a beautiful thing when put to good use! There will be times during your shift when good help will be the difference between you drowning in your workload or staying afloat. Never be ashamed to ask for help as even the best nurses need a hand sometimes. Asking for help can make you a better team player because you’ll be able to recognize when one or your teammates needs you to return the favor!
  • Get funny! Learn to laugh at yourself. A good sense of humor can help you keep things in perspective and know when to take deep breaths. Laugh at yourself and watch your stress level come down immediately!
  • Get real! Dealing with stress and frustration is no fun, especially during long patient care shifts. But sometimes, we need to get real about why the stress is presenting itself. Do we need to get better at prioritizing? Are we dealing with personal issues while at work? Are we afraid to ask for help during a busy shift? There are real ways we can minimize stress and frustration once we get to the sometimes underlying causes. If stress and frustration frequently occur during shifts, it could indicate some things about us that need room for improvement (i.e., prioritization, teamwork, etc.). Don’t be afraid to change certain behaviors if they impede good patient care.

Well, I hope you found these tips helpful. Stressful shifts are sure to happen, but thankfully, there are ways to manage them. The most important thing is that we take deep breaths and plunge in to being great nurses who manage to give great patient care despite the stress.

Refreshing the Wanderlust: Dealing with Travel Nurse Burnout

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It’s that time again. Another contract is signed. You’re saying goodbye to new friends
and leaving to go off on your next adventure in travel nursing.

Sure, it’s awesome! I am currently on my 5th travel assignment , and I’ve had my share of great times. But, I also know how physically and emotionally taxing travel nursing can be. Frequent travel is tough on anyone, but the constant changing work environment can eventually wear out even the strongest travel nurse.

But there’s good news! There are ways to prevent your wanderlust from running cold. Here are a few.

Get some rest! It’s grueling to start a new assignment, especially during the first 1-2 weeks. New time zones can be a beast! Catch up on as must rest as you can while adjusting to your new surroundings.

Evaluate your goals. What are your reasons for travel nursing? Do you want more experience? Do you want to see new places? Do you want to enhance your resume? If you notice your excitement about travel nursing starting to wane, reevaluate your reasons for traveling. It may be time to change courses, and that’s okay.

Try a new activity! Look for new and fun things to do while on your assignment. It could be just the thing to re-energize your travel nurse experience.

Stay stress and drama free. One of the great benefits of working as a travel nurse is the ability to remain un-involved in hospital drama.  Is there strife between staff and management? It’s unfortunate, but not necessarily a concern of the traveler. You’re there to help, so you have to stay balanced. Of course there are situations that may stress you out, (frequent floating, various patient populations, etc.) and if it ever gets to be more than you can handle, talk to your recruiter.  Also keep in mind that if your assignment is not enjoyable, it is temporary.  Learn what you can from the experience and move on to the next adventure.

Happy stress-free, energy-filled traveling! Feel free to ask questions or leave a comment.

 

Travel Nursing 101: First Things First

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Okay, so you’ve decided to become a travel nurse, or at least you’re expressing interest. That’s great! It is a wonderful, rewarding opportunity.  I’m currently into my 3rd travel nurse assignment (like the shot of the bridge?) and I often get asked many questions on what travel nursing is like. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet  and befriend fellow travelers along the way. Through our conversations and my own experiences, I’ve learned quite a bit of helpful information.  So, I’m taking the next few blog posts to give some tips on how to make the most of  a travel nursing career.! Here it goes……

Travel Nursing 101: First things first.

The first thing I will tell anyone considering an assignment as a travel nurse is this: have a clear purpose for starting a career as a travel nurse.  Are you most interested in earning extra money? Are you traveling for the experience alone? Are you willing to work various shifts/units? Holidays?   Trust me, having the answer to these questions in the back of your mind will help you determine which assignments are best for you. Some assignments have great pay rates, benefits, etc, but aren’t necessarily in the most fun places and vice versa. Some assignments may require you to float to various units, work holidays and rotate between day/night shifts. Before you choose an assignment, decide which details you are willing to negotiate on.

Now that you’ve decided to travel, you need to choose an agency to travel with. Choose the right travel company. I repeat, choose the right company!! As travel nursing has expanded, agencies are expanding and becoming more competitive.  Truthfully, in terms of communication, contracts, housing, benefits, customer service, etc., some agencies are better than others. Pay close attention to an agency’s reviews before signing on with them!  There are several websites that can give you agency rankings. I like both www.highwayhypodermics.com and www.travelnursingcentral.com.

Use all the tools you can to get reviews. Do your homework! If you know a traveler, talk with him/her about their experiences. Do they like their company? What companies would they stay away from and why? Do they have a good relationship with their recruiter? Having a good recruiter can make all the difference in your travel experience. There are a lot of varied opinions about different agencies. You may have a great experience with a company while another traveler didn’t. Sometimes, experience is the best teacher. As a rule of thumb, though, if you notice several negative comments about an agency via word of mouth or web, pay attention.

Coming up in my next blog post,  I’ll tell you specifics about contracts. What needs to be detailed in your contract? What questions do you need to ask your recruiter? What questions do you need to ask when you interview for the assignment?  A good rule to remember: If it is not in your contract, it does not exist!

Stay tuned and all questions are welcomed:)

Advice to New Grads: An Interview with Seasoned Nurses

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I recently had the privilege of interviewing  two really great nurses.  Both have been in practice for at least 7-10 years and have worked in various roles (inpatient, traveling, charge nurse and outpatient). I figured that with their experience and skill,  they would be more than able to give great advice to new nurses.  I was right!

I asked 3 simple questions and I loved the responses!  They are brief and candid, yet powerful when you take them to heart. It struck me how much these ladies valued their roles as nurses. They’ve worked a little bit of everywhere, yet there are certain parts of their roles as nurses that have remained the same. I could hear joy and satisfaction in their voices! Let’s face it, not everyone can do it. Be proud of the decision you made to become a nurse. It was a good one! I hope their advice to you is helpful.

Here’s the interview, enjoy!!

    AVW: What’s been most rewarding for you as a nurse?

Nurse A: “Seeing my patients improve and go home! I love getting to know them and building relationships with them. It’s like they know you care because they light up when they see you.”

    Nurse B. “Building really close relationships with my patients and families. They were hesitant to conversate with me when I first started this position, but now they know and trust me. That’s a great feeling”.

  

AVW: What’s been the toughest part of being a nurse for you?

   Nurse A: “A patient that I had taken care of for a long time and built a close relationship with had a stroke at the end of my shift once. It was so hard for me to see that happen and go    through it with the family. I had trouble visiting them in intensive care. It was so hard. But, the patient’s doing well now and that’s great”.

Nurse B: “Honestly, it’s  hearing my patients sometimes lie about taking their meds at home. I know they don’t want to lie, but it’s hard when they’re trying to keep from looking bad. As a pediatric nurse, it’s sometimes very hard to witness poor parenting”.

 

AVW: What advice would you give a new nurse?

Nurse A:  ”You’ve learned a lot in the textbook world. The real world of it is a little different. The understanding of  it is important. Also, everybody has a different way of doing  things. Be open-minded to that”.

Nurse B:  “Start slow, but now when and how to dive in.  It’s tempting to take shortcuts, but don’t. Go home and know that you did right by your patients”.