Travel Nursing

Why Should Nurses Vote?

Posted in Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Travel Nursing

Why should nurses vote?

What’s at stake in this election for nurses? There are two vital issues; the economy and health care. In many ways these two issues are intertwined and they both impact nurses immensely.

In a struggling economy, be assured that hospital administrators will be making cuts to maintain some margin of profit or keep losses to a minimum. That means fewer nurses and a shortage of beds for those who need them most. In other health care settings, administrators will face similar financial decisions and will be making cutbacks in staffing as well.

As the economy began to take a turn for the worse several months ago, many non-active nurses returned to the field for their own financial security. This factor helped to temporarily address some of the shortage of nurses which in turn affected opportunities for foreign born nurses as well as travel nurses. With more permanent staff available, the need to help nurses immigrate or to use travel nurses has declined in some areas, and not in others.

Now as the economy worsens, the fear is that hospitals and other healthcare facilities will have to make mild to severe cutbacks. In states where mandatory nurse-to-patient ratios exist, hospitals will be forced to take a closer look at how much they can cut back and still offer quality healthcare in their communities. Mandatory overtime could and probably will become even more of an issue if that proves to be more economical for the facility.

Each of the Presidential candidates has expressed a view of the health care crisis in this country and has developed a comprehensive plan to address the issue. They have each made note of the nurse’s role in the health care system and expressed their level of support of nurses. After careful consideration, the American Nurses Association has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).

Each of the candidate’s plans for economic reform and for health care reform shows a deep concern for the American people in keeping with their own political party views.

The 2004 Presidential election was decided by a little more than 500 votes. This election stands to be a very close one as well. There are 2.9 million nurses in the U.S. and health care is the largest industry in this country. Your vote is very important. Please be sure to exercise your right to VOTE on November 4.

No matter who you vote for, the important issue is that you get out and VOTE on Nov. 4. Many states allow early voting to help those who may have scheduling conflicts on voting day. For nurses, this may be a very useful alternative, especially for those who work 7AM to 7PM and may not get to the polls in time to cast their ballot. Absentee ballots are another alternative, but it may be too late to request one now.

With rights come responsibilities. Make sure you make an informed choice. In many elections across the country, voters will be choosing state and local representatives as well as voting on ballot initiatives. Read your voter information carefully and research the candidates and issues; especially in regard to how they impact nurses and healthcare.

By Kathy Quan RN BSN. Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book and is author/owner of

© 2008 All Rights Reserved.

Protect Your Patients Get the Flu Shot

Posted in Nursing, Travel Nursing, Uncategorized

Protect Your Patients Get the Flu Shot

The 2008-9 flu vaccine is beginning to appear. This year, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says there will be an all-time high supply of the vaccine as manufacturers predict as many as 146 million doses will be available. This means many more people will be able to be vaccinated than ever before.

Health care workers often forgo the opportunity to be vaccinated and present a risk their colleagues and patients alike. Statistically, about 20% of the U.S. population gets the flu each year and up to 200,000 are hospitalized.

This puts nurses and other health care workers at tremendous risk for exposure. Even when asymptomatic, nurses and other heath care workers can then contribute to the spread of the flu virus.

A recent study of health care workers reported in the August 4, 2008, issue of Advance for Nurses found that 59% of health care workers surveyed did not recall having had any flu symptoms and 28% stated they did not recall having any respiratory illness. This gives rise to a false sense of security and perception that health care workers do not need to be vaccinated.

The ethics of this erroneous perception can lead to a violation of the moral code for health care workers to protect the public. Knowing that the risk of infection exists, nurses and other health care workers need to be vaccinated in order to do their part to help prevent the spread of the flu virus. The public believes and expects that health care workers will protect them from harm.

Last year the flu vaccine was found to be ineffective in covering the majority of flu virus that emerged. This year, manufacturers have changed the formula entirely and it will cover three new strains that research shows will most likely cause influenza this year.

Whether or not the vaccine covers the exact strains of active virus each year, those who are vaccinated and subsequently become infected with the virus will have a much milder case of influenza than those who are not vaccinated which also reduces the likelihood of complications which can lead to severe illness and even death.

Each year in the U.S. approximately 36,000 deaths are caused by influenza and the complications such as pneumonia. Those most at risk should be vaccinated, unless otherwise contraindicated. This includes children aged 6 months to 19 years, pregnant women, those of any age with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and lung diseases.

Those who reside in nursing homes and long term care facilities where influenza can spread rapidly should be vaccinated. Teachers, health care workers, and anyone who cares for the elderly or infirm.

Anyone who cares for or has contact with children under the age of 6 months should be vaccinated to reduce exposure to this age group which cannot be vaccinated.

Nurses need to take the lead and set the example for all health care workers as well as the general public to be vaccinated and protect others from the flu virus. This can be even more important for travel nurses who spend time in many different parts of the country. You can send an E-card from the CDC website to your colleagues, friends and family to remind them to be vaccinated as well.

By Kathy Quan RN BSN. Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book and the author/owner of
©2008 by All Rights Reserved

Joint Commission Certification and The Partnership of Two Industry Leaders

Posted in Travel Nursing

Welcome to the first edition of truNews, an online column dedicated to keeping you in the know about one of the most competitive firms in the healthcare staffing industry, trustaff! As one of top 500 fastest growing companies in the country today, trustaff is constantly improving to offer the best service and positions to our clients.

In April of this year, trustaff was awarded the Gold Seal for Healthcare Staffing Service from the Joint Commission ( This prestigious accolade is currently held by only twelve staffing companies in Ohio, a total of 176 companies nationwide, and shows that trustaff complies with the standards and guidelines set by the Joint Commission that ensure the healthcare staffing industry provides the best service possible. Recertification will be completed every two years via unannounced visits to ensure our continuing compliance with the Joint Commission.

We have recently moved! Our new facilities are located at 4270 Glendale Milford Road in Blue Ash, Ohio and feature the latest technological amenities helping us to better serve our clients. This facility places all of our divisions and departments together with much more room to continue expanding as one of the fastest growing companies in the country.

As a new part of the move into the new facilities, trustaff would like to extend a warm welcome to FirstCall who will be joining us at our new Glendale Milford location! FirstCall is a well established firm with more than twelve years in the industry and several large local clients. We are all looking forward to continuing the excellence of both FirstCall and trustaff as we serve all of our local and national clients.

Nurses Don’t Need to Feel Stuck

Posted in Nursing, Travel Nursing

Nurses Don’t Need to Feel Stuck

Historically, workers hired on after high school or college at the plant, the office, the mill, the mines. etc. and worked there until they retired. This loyalty was expected and those who didn’t follow this rule were scrutinized. Typically a gold watch was the prize for years of service upon retirement.

A couple of decades ago, workers began to figure out that the power to negotiate better benefits and higher salaries was to change jobs every few years. Slowly, nurses have begun to learn this as well.

It’s still easier for many nurses to hire on at the local community hospital and work there until they retire. And no doubt, there are some perks and advantages to longevity and seniority. However, there are still far too many nurses who are unhappy in their job and underpaid because they have worked there too long.

When there is only one community hospital in your hometown and you’re a nurse, that’s generally where you work. That comfort zone is hard to break out of. But nursing offers so many more options.

Nurses often love being nurses, but they don’t like their jobs. They don’t like their boss or some co-worker(s). They don’t like the days and shifts they have to work. They always get stuck working holidays and weekends. They miss out on their children’s activities. They never seem to get a full thirty-minute meal break, much less have two-hour power lunches.

Too many nurses feel stuck. They have worked on the same unit for so long they don’t think they can do anything else. The only option is to quit; and all too often that happens.

This has created a tremendous problem in the nursing profession and it is finally beginning to be explored. A significant number of nurses are not working as nurses, and yet we are approaching a critical shortage of nurses.

Unhappy nurses and those who are burned out, present a significant patient risk. Health care has no room for apathy. Burn out is stress taken to the nth degree. Stressed out workers make mistakes.

Continuing education providers and many employers are beginning to implement better programs to assist nurses to transition to other roles and fields. Nurses who have spent their career working with adults often pine for pediatrics, but feel completely incompetent and vice versa.

ICU nurses finding themselves completely depleted of adrenalin may be looking for something a little less stressful and yet need a mentor to help them slow down in the world of med/surg nursing or even home health care.

Home health agencies have begun to discover a gold mine in bringing retired nurses back into the field. Many of these nurses retired from nursing to raise families and now in their late forties and fifties, are ready to return to the workforce, but reticent to return to the hospital floor. Agencies have developed return to nursing programs to retrain these nurses and are finding them to be terrific employees.

Travel nursing can be a great option as well. It doesn’t always mean leaving home. If you live in or close to a large metropolitan area, you can explore the assignment opportunities at a hospital across town. Certain mileage restrictions apply, and high prices of gasoline can be an issue. However, living in your own home, you may receive a stipend for housing that you can apply to you gasoline costs.

If it’s time for a change in your career, don’t burn out. Move on!

By Kathy Quan RN BSN
Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book, and the owner/author of

The Nurse Practice Act

Posted in Nursing, Travel Nursing, Uncategorized

The Nurse Practice Act

Have you read your Nurse Practice Act lately? Do you understand your Scope of Practice? The Nurse Practice Act is a set of laws which protect the public from harm. It defines the formal education needed for a particular level of nurse and sets the regulations for licensure.

Click here for info on YOUR STATE’S nurse practice act.

The NPA defines the nurse’s scope of practice based on the content of the formal education and level of nurse. It is different for an RN and an LPN/LVN. It is also different for a Nurse Pratitioner.

Know Your Scope of Practice
The Scope of Practice defines your role as a nurse for the locality where you are presently practicing. This can vary from one state or province to another. If you are a travel nurse, or are moving to a new state, you need to read and familiarize yourself with the NPA and Scope of Practice for that state or province before you begin work.

You may not use the excuse that you aren’t familiar with your scope of practice as it is part of your role as a nurse to know and understand it. The NPA and scope of practice can be changed as education requirements change. Read your NPA often and stay abreast of changes in your state or province.

Take note that just because you acquire a set of skills or knowledge base from experience or observation in the course of your job, it does not mean you may perform them without certain limitations. In addition to your NPA you also need to be familiar with your present job description and the rules of your facility.

For example, the NPA may state that RNs can give IV push medications, but if your facility says that all IV push medications are to be given only by a certain level RN or even a physician, then you are not allowed to give that medication if you don’t meet the criteria set by the facility.

Each state board of nursing in the U.S. develops the NPA for that state. You can find a link to each state’s board of nursing here.

Don’t Overstep Your Scope
You are also responsible not to overstep your scope of practice regardless of what your employer may ask of you. This can be especially important if you don’t work in a traditional healthcare setting. Even within a healthcare setting, employers are notorious for asking nurses to stretch beyond their scope of practice to perform duties which can be questionable. Your responsibility as a nurse is to protect the safety of your patients.

New nurses in particular can often be intimidated into performing skills that they have not performed before, or not been checked off on, because the unit is short staffed and there isn’t time to find a preceptor or supervisor to help you with the procedure. This is really unacceptable and nurses need to remember the first rule of all healthcare, DO NO HARM. Don’t perform something you have never done before without appropriate supervision!

If you are a travel nurse and your skills need to be checked off before you are able to perform a procedure independently be sure you do so.

By Kathy Quan RN BSN
Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book and author/owner of

The New Kid on the Block

Posted in Nursing, Travel Nursing

Are you the new kid on the block?

Whether you’re a travel nurse starting your first or a new assignment, a new nurse grad, a float nurse, or you’re starting a new job, being the newest nurse on a unit can be intimidating.

A smile and a positive attitude go a long way in breaking the ice and starting off with a good impression. Take the lead and introduce yourself. Shake hands if appropriate. Remember this is not always acceptable for cultural reasons, for the germaphobe and for those who don’t like having their space invaded. But offering a hand even when not taken can be seen as a warm gesture.

There will almost always be at least one nurse who is cold and indifferent. The one who resents you being there for whatever the reason. Typically this is because the travel nurse makes more money, a new grad knows nothing, a float nurse will take no responsibility, or a new nurse threatens her territory. Sometimes you can melt the ice and other times you just have to let this person be and stay out of her way.

Your presence on this unit represents a double-edged sword. They obviously need your warm body, but they fear being burdened by a newbie who needs extra help. You can help to ease this situation by first recognizing this dilemma and then dispelling their fears by showing that you are here to help and not to be a burden.

Arrive early and be prepared. Bring your lunch, snack foods and a water bottle. Don’t bring all of your valuables and expect to have a safe place to put them. Lock them in the trunk of your car or leave them at home. Your essential licenses, ID and a few dollars can fit easily in a small pouch or wallet that fits in your pocket.

Make sure you have pens and your own stethoscope. A small notebook or PDA will show that you’re organized and ready to take a few notes. Ask for a quick tour of the unit and make note of where things are such as the linens, the kitchen, the med carts, the crash cart, the charts, and general layout of the unit. Then as you have time, explore these areas and familiarize yourself with the unit.

Hospitals sometimes divide floors into units with no clear delineation. Patients and visitors are often confused and go to the wrong nurse’s station. If you have a list of room numbers that belong to your unit, you’ll be able to sort it out more easily.

Observe the staff and learn about the “culture” of this group. Do they work together as a team? Do they all get along? Or do they all just do their job and not interact unless absolutely necessary? Who are the natural leaders? Who are the trouble makers?

Get your own work done and if you have time, offer to help others. If you have to ask for help with something, come prepared to return the favor. Remember that when a nurse has to stop and help you, his own assignment will be impacted.

Finally, don’t engage in gossip. You will hear plenty. Listen politely and go about your business. If co-workers pressure you to comment or take sides, just say you understand their positions, but you’re too new to have an opinion and get back to work.

By Kathy Quan RN BSN.
Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book and the author/owner of

Is Organization on Your Skills List?

Posted in Nursing, Travel Nursing

Is organization on your skills list?

Organization is an essential skill for nurses. Whether you are planning out your day, providing patient education or preparing to call a physician about a patient, having “all your ducks in a row” is of extreme importance.

Yes, many nurses are not organized and somehow they do manage to get through the day, but their stress levels are usually quite high. Taking the time to make sure you have dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s the first time around can save you a lot of heartache and frustration.

For example, you know that whenever you have to call a physician, he’s going to want more information. If all you can say is that your patient is still having pain after one dose of Tylenol #3 (acetaminophen with 30 mg. codeine), you’re going to be bombarded with questions.

If you’re prepared and provide the physician with a complete report of recent vital signs and a list of other pain measures you’ve tried along with a complete pain assessment, you’re likely to have an easier time requesting a repeat dose or additional medication.

When completing your charting, if you have a list of notes to review, chances are that your documentation will go faster and be complete and accurate.

In addition to your daily routine, keeping track of your professional information is important too. Learn to organize these items. A small file box or even a shoe box can be an easy way to keep track of this information. Make copies of your license(s). Put reminders on your calendar about renewals. Create a file for your ceu information and certificates. Keep a copy of your skills list and resume in a file and review/update them quarterly. Include any new skills, education, and experience you have gained.

You can and should also have electronic copies of all of this information. Scan paper copies such as licenses and certificates. Keep this information updated and accessible on your computer. Add a password to the file if necessary. You can also copy these files onto a CD which can be password protected as well. Put a copy in a safe deposit box or other safe place.

If you are a travel nurse, you will need access to this information often. Keeping it all together in one place will assist you in applying for new assignments efficiently. If you have access to both hard copies as well as electronic copies (i.e. .pdf or .doc files) of your information you will have options for emailing or FAXING the information quickly.

Keeping your CV or resume updated can be very rewarding. You never know when someone will ask for it and offer you an exciting opportunity. If you have to stop and create one, you might lose out.

While you’re at it, be sure to include organization to your skills list as well as your computer skills and proficiency with various software.

By Kathy Quan RN BSN.
Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book and author/owner of

Tips and Tricks for Travel Nurses

Posted in Nursing, Travel Nursing, Uncategorized

Tips and Tricks for Travel Nurses

Make the most of your travel nurse opportunities. Here are a few tips and tricks to assist you.

One of the best tips any travel nurse will give you is to do your homework. Read travel nurse blogs and nursing forums where travelers share their experiences both good and bad.

Another important tip is to understand an assignment fully before you accept it. Ask questions.

Be super organized. Know where all of your documents are and have them up to date.

Have a current resume and a list of all your skills and talents. Be ready to send it as a Word or .pdf attachment to an Email or to FAX it to your recruiter or hospital.

Have copies of your license(s) and lists of all recent CEUs. Know which states are part of the Nurse Licensure Compact. There are 22 states which accept each other’s nursing licenses. Rhode Island has signed the agreement and will implement it in July 2008.

Make a list of states where you would eventually like to travel. If they are not member of the Nurse Licensure Compact, know how to contact the state’s board of nursing to obtain a nursing license if needed.

Keep all licenses up to date. Let the ones you don’t intend to use again become inactive.

Have an open mind and be flexible about assignments. Some agencies refuse to let nurses be too picky about which units they will or will not work. However, make your career goals known to your recruiter.

Take care not to burn bridges. The health care world is small and mobile. You never know when you may cross paths with someone again.

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always read the small print and ask questions. Never make assumptions.

Be professional at all times; even when you’re not on duty.

Accept responsibility for any mistakes you make, learn from them and move forward.

Be careful how you word and share any bad experiences. State facts, not opinions. If you had a bad experience, say simply that you “would not recommend” an agency, hospital, unit etc. If someone wants details, do it privately over the phone.

If you have to get out of an assignment, discuss it with your recruiter and agency first. Give them as much notice as possible. If there’s a problem that they can try to fix, let them try.

Life happens and there may be a time when you have to get out or refuse an assignment last minute, but be sure your situation is legitimate. And make it be a rare occurrence.

Express your goals and needs in writing to your recruiter so that there is not a possibility of errors. When they change, update your recruiter. Important things to include would be who travels with you (family, friends, pets), any special needs you have such as handicapped access, close in parking, security arrangements, etc.

Travel nursing can be an exciting career option. Make the most of your experiences. Be organized, prepared and professional.

By Kathy Quan RN BSN

Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book, and author/owner of

More About Travel Nursing

Posted in Nursing, Travel Nursing, Uncategorized

More About Travel Nursing

Travel nursing offers nurses the opportunity to see the country while working at various hospitals on a short term contract basis. There are even some opportunities to travel to other countries.

If you live in a large metropolitan area such as Los Angeles, you can even live in your own home and be a travel nurse. Your commute has to be at least 50 miles one way, but in large cities and counties that is quite possible. And there are probably several hospitals you can rotate through.

Even in a rural community, if you live at least 50 miles from the local hospital you can contract through a travel nursing agency to work as a travel nurse in that facility. Some restrictions may apply and can vary from agency to agency and hospital to hospital.

Most travel nurses want to see the country, meet new people and learn about the cultures in the various regions of the U.S. They sign on with a travel nursing agency and accept an assignment in the region they want to explore for the next few weeks or months.

A travel nurse may reside in the northeast, and want to get away for the winter. Travel nursing positions are plentiful in California, Arizona and Florida. But they are available in all 50 states as well as a few foreign countries such as Spain.

The travel agency will negotiate the contract, help you with licensure in the state you wish to travel to and assist in finding housing nearby. They may also assist in your travel arrangements and in finding means of transportation in your new city.

Some travel nurses may choose to drive to their new location to ensure they have a familiar car. Some travel nurses have RVs which they take on the road with them. This minimizes the need to pack and unpack frequently. The agency will then assist you to find RV hookups for the duration of your contract.

Any special needs should be discussed well in advance with the travel agency such as pets or family or friends who will accompany you to ensure appropriate housing can be arranged.

Many travel nurses are married and/or have children. Sometimes the couple may both be nurses or one is a nurse and the other a physical or occupational therapist. Therapists can also find travel assignments and the same agency may be able to place both of you. Or they may work in cooperation with a travel therapist agency.

Children usually need school and after school care arrangements made. The travel nursing agency may or may not be prepared to assist you with these arrangements. Be sure to discuss this option when deciding on an agency to represent you.
Always be sure you understand an assignment before accepting it. Hospitals depend on these agencies for staffing and there may be serious penalties for failing to carry out a contract.

By Kathy Quan RN BSN
Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book, and author/owner of

Negotiating a Travel Nursing Contract

Posted in Travel Nursing, Uncategorized

Negotiating a Travel Nursing Contract

There are a few essential points to consider about travel nursing contracts. When interviewing a potential travel nursing agency, ask for a blank contract to get a feel for the things they typically include and negotiate.

Next, ALWAYS read each contract before you sign it. Don’t ever assume they are all the same, no matter how long you’ve been with this agency. Know what you’re agreeing to. So take a few minutes of quiet time to read it through carefully.

Before you ever accept an assignment, be sure you understand exactly what the assignment is. What type/size hospital is it? Which unit will you be assigned to? Who’s the nurse manager? What shift you’re expected to work; how many days/hours, which holidays, weekends, etc. What kind of orientation is included? What’s the dress code? Do you need scrubs, uniforms, or any special equipment? Will you be expected to draw your own labs? What is the float policy? What are the nurse-to-patient ratios? How many RNs, LPNs, and CNAs or unlicensed assistants will you be working with?

What is the actual pay? Are you salaried or hourly? What benefits are included and when do they start? What is the cost? Do they cover your family? What about liability insurance? Who pays for your travel expenses? Who arranges your itinerary? Can you work more hours?

Then you’ll need to do some research about the city and the hospital. What’s the population? What’s the median: age, level of education and income? What do local nurses make? What’s the cost of living? What’s the crime rate in this community? What kind of weather conditions can you expect?

You’ll also want to know all the details of the housing arrangements. Sometimes you’ll have a small apartment. Will it be furnished? Sometimes it will be an extended stay residence hotel. Sometimes it will be a standard motel or hotel room. Is there a per diem for meals? Will you have a kitchen and is it equipped? Are you expected to have a roommate? Who actually pays for this? Are you expected to pay and be reimbursed? What amenities are available or nearby? Will you have a rental car? What about security issues? Where do you park? Is it a secure or gated building or community?

Other considerations include any family or pets you may have and expect to accompany you on this assignment. Make sure the agency knows about them and makes necessary arrangements. You don’t want to find yourself in a strange city with your Labrador only to find out you’re not allowed to have him in your new apartment or hotel.

Discuss your own arrangements that may save the travel company money. Occasionally, you may have some of your own plans in a location. You may have a relative to stay with and don’t need housing. Sometimes your spouse carries the medical/dental benefits and you don’t need those. Perhaps you have an RV and won’t need housing, but will need RV hookups which cost considerably less than an apartment or hotel room. You should receive a stipend or an increase in your salary or hourly wages to cover these cost savings to the travel agency.

Make a list of all the things you need want and expect in your travel assignment and make sure they are all included in the contract. Don’t rely on an oral agreement.

Don’t ever accept an assignment until you understand it fully and are seriously ready to live up to the agreement. Hospitals depend on these agencies to provide quality nurses. The agencies depend on the nurses to fulfill their obligations. Life happens and there will be times when a travel nurse has to back out of a commitment, but these should be rare.

By Kathy Quan RN BSN

Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book, and author/owner of