Thrown Away

In today’s society we have disposable diapers, disposable cell phones, and disposable cameras, but what about disposable nurses?

When a patient leaves a hospital we dispose of all the items that have been left behind including urinals, bedpans, water pitchers, adult diapers, and even a razor or two…  Are nurses also being left behind once the patient has left?

I have found that in times of crisis the travel nurse is greatly more disposable than a staff nurse.  The staff nurse gets counseling, a verbal warning, a written warning, suspended for some time, and THEN they are terminated, after, 5 times of having the same error. 

Now, if it’s a travel nurse, they will usually give you one warning and after that, it’s a good chance that your contract (which is really an “at will” contract) is cancelled, and you end up being just another disposable nurse.

Here is the top 8 things that can help keep you from being a disposable travel nurse:

  • Be very careful when wasting medications. Its common practice for two nurses to sign that they have wasted a narcotic and then the wasting of the narcotic is actually viewed by another nurse. As a traveler, this is a very dangerous practice!  Make sure that someone sees you ACTUALLY waste the narcotic!
  • When you are turning a patient with a Braden score less than 18 points, take another nurse or patient care tech with you to turn so that you have a witness that you actually turned that patient in case of a Hospital Acquired Pressure Ulcer (HAPU), which is very pricey for a hospital. You are also less likely to injure your back. And of course, DOCUMENT the turn.
  • Make sure that you document that fact that you went back to the patient after 30 minutes for IV medications or 60 minutes for PO medications.
  • If you don’t know that hospital policy on something, ask the charge nurse or your preceptor. Ignorance is no excuse and neither is, “Well, that is how we did it back home.”
  • Your patient is NOT at the nurse’s station discussing their new Prada shoes, their Louis Vuitton handbag, or the next part of their body to be changed by a plastic surgeon. Get down the hall with your patients!
  • Go above and beyond the call of duty. When someone needs help and you can help them, go for it. And have a good attitude about taking the next admit or switching with another nurse so that their care level isn’t so high.
  • You can’t tell the nurses how good you are, you have to show them! I don’t know how many times I have gotten on the good side of nurses just because of my knowledge that to get through a prostate with a catheter, you just wait until the catheter stops, have the patient cough, which opens it up more and then you can drive it in there!
  • Last but not least, if anything does go wrong, tell your recruiter IMMEDIATELY! A great recruiter will understand that you are a great nurse, but even great nurses make mistakes.

Be willing to go the extra mile, help out nurses along the way, cover your hiney in all situations, and find a great recruiter that believes in you!  By using these few tips, you have less of a chance of being the travel nurse that the hospital disposes of!