Travel nursing is not always about luxurious vacation with pay. Nurses in this field suffer a number of difficult situations and/or circumstances. At times, big compensation and pros of travels undermine the demands of taking the role of a regular nurse. So now, I am sharing at least four hazards face by travel nurses.
Lack of Orientation
When a hospital is bombarded by nurses on strike, the solution is to hire a travel nurse to accommodate the ‘work gap’ left. The travel nurse is then assigned to the area immediately without being informed of the status beforehand. Other times, a travel nurse is given an assignment far from her experience because it is the area that needs staffing solution. For example, a travel nurse who has been practicing in the emergency department (ED) is put in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) because there’s a staff shortage. She does have a knowledge on how to take care a neonate, but is not an expert. She is then branded as a neophyte in the field.
Long Hours Shift
As a travel nurse you are expected to deal with long work hours. Your shift has the average of 12 to 16 hours per day. Having this number of hours strains your body and mind. Frequent long hours shift can eat your physical and mental health, which causes medication or treatment errors, and even lead to the revocation of your nursing license.
Pressure from Understaffing
Travel nursing become on point because of hospitals or health institutions who lacks nurses. They need to hire nurses from other land to compensate what they do not have. As a travel nurse, you have to be prepared with this situation as it can your dilemma later on. I was hired by an understaffed health facility, and certain problems appeared within. I was new and the senior nurse asked me to work on three patients. She didn’t tell me where are the IV insertion kit, and the do’s and don’ts when dealing with Arab patients. Thankfully, another staff, same age as me, helped me through. I then realised that senior nurses have negative feelings towards newbie travel nurses.
Violence and/ or Abuse
Nurses are subjects of abuse and violence, may it be from patient, another nurse, doctors, or other medical or administrative staff. So this does not exclude travel nurses. The facility I am working gave us a flat which I share with five other travel nurses (One roommate is a long- stayed nurse, the others are my friends from my hometown). Five of us got along in almost all things, while the only one is always the negative vibe spreader.
Another example of violence situation where travel nurses is at risk is being employed by a health facility located in a war torn place or a remote place. You could not run or find transport or access emergency response team immediately. Frustrations and anger from patients or family members can be exacerbated into violence, and a travel nurse is always the first subject.
Poor Agency Compliance
Another pitfall of being a travel nurse is having a tie with a poor recruitment agency. What you have discussed is different from what you are seeing or experiencing. Our agency gave us the contract that we food allowance every month, free accommodation and free transport in the duration of our two- year contract. In reality, the health facility explained to us that food allowance is included in our monthly salary. They would not give additional money to our agreed monthly compensation. It’s a free accommodation, but our appliances (especially the airconditioning) are always broken! We have a 9- hour shift, instead of 8- hour shift. We received pay same as the regular shift for an overtime work. We allowed to go out to make shopping and grocery twice a month (first two fridays). Speaking of reality.
These hazards of travel nursing may be overwhelming, but if you learn to adapt like what I am doing, you can enjoy the challenge and celebrate your anniversary with a peaceful morning shift.