Monday, August 10, 2015

Crossing State Lines as a Travel Nurse

It’s never been easier to work in multiple states than it is right now in travel nursing

By Aaron J. Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert

I get asked all the time about crossing state lines and I’m here to ease any trepidations about that process – it’s easy and extremely important for a travel nurse to factor into decision-making. If you are like me, you look back on your initial NCLEX exam and think, “I’m not going through that again!” Well, luckily there is no test required to move from state to state, but there is some legwork involved.

In my career in travel, I’ve held six different nursing licenses and I’ve only had to work with one amazing recruiter named Lance. Much like a guide on your first European vacation, recruiters can navigate you through the confusing and new spots of traveling until you get your bearings. Since my first assignment was in California, I learned a lot about temporary and permanent licenses – and that not all states have these. Nursing licenses take longer in some states than others, but recruiters can help you cut through the red tape, and give you an idea how long you can expect to wait for a new license.

Now, the news gets better if your initial nursing license is in one of the following states: Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Wisconsin, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, or Maine; you are able to work in any of these states without applying for separate licenses. That’s right, one license will let you work in 24 states—and Montana will make it 25 starting October 1--because they are all part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC).

The number of compact states has expanded a lot over the years, and that is incredibly beneficial for any travel nurse. You can start assignments faster and expand your career options by region and setting. To learn more about the Nurse Licensure Compact, visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) website.

Another great resource to turn to is an organization and website called Nursys (www.nursys.com). This database provides licensure and disciplinary information of all licensed RNs and LPNs. The public can access this information for free, but if you want to upload your personal information (to keep your paperwork in one place), there is a small fee you can pay to do that.

Overall, getting a license in another state is not meant to be hard. Clean background checks, planning ahead (having the needed paperwork) and updated photos of yourself will help your licensing journey a lot. And, most importantly, talk to your travel nursing recruiter: they are experts and can get you going in the right direction.

Put all that hard work to use and explore the country in a way only travel nurses can!

Want to Learn More About Travel Nursing?
Ask Aaron -- our seasoned traveler! You can also find answers to frequently asked questions on our FAQ page, or request a call from a nurse recruiter with one of NurseZone’s staffing partners.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Staying Fit on the Road

By Aaron Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert

Exercise and fitness are experiencing a huge resurgence in popular culture. Thanks to technology breakthroughs and the expansion of gyms and fitness programs, we find ourselves exposed to it every day. And I think that’s a good thing. Obesity is a major problem in our society, after all, and as nurses we see and deal with the consequences of it on a daily basis.

Personal fitness can help us feel better and do our jobs better, but it can be challenging for travel nurses and even vacationing nurses to achieve when they are on the road. So if you’re interested in working out like I am, here are my top three ways to stay in shape while traveling:

1. Run. I enjoy running; not only can it help you explore your new neighborhood, but running is a cheap sport. Shoes and clothes are all you really need, and you probably have something suitable already. So add an iPod or smartphone with music, and you’re set to go. With all the map apps and websites available, you can find routes near you, no matter where you are!

2. Join a gym. You can try national chains; let them know about your travel situation when you ask about membership. They may let you transfer your membership from place to place, or use the facilities in different locations. Most of the big chains probably have a gym near you. CrossFit has also become extremely popular, and the locally-owned gyms usually have start-up, low cost options and multiple class times. Some local gyms in your assignment locations may have month-to-month memberships that you can try, as well.

3. Try a home gym. This can differ from place to place; as a traveler, I always had an apartment with some sort of gym. Not all apartment and hotel gyms are created equal, however, so you do need an alternative (see option 1 above). I also believe in home workouts when you can’t make it to the gym. I use a kettle bell, which is cheap and easy to pack in the car. And so many lifts can be done using body weight and are amazing workouts if you do them right: push-ups, pull-ups and squats, to name a few. Then there is the TV/video option. Many home workout tapes actually work, so investing in one might be a good idea when you’re on the road.

Overall, moderation is key. I used all the options listed above and they kept my fitness routine well-rounded. I also found that making exercise part of your day—kind of like brushing your teeth—forces you to get out there and do it even when you don’t want to. Finding someone to exercise with you and hold you accountable can really help, too, and it’s a great way to meet new people while traveling.

So lace up those running shoes and go for it. Then call your recruiter and look for an awesome place to go on assignment later this summer or fall. There are plenty more trails and adventures to discover.

Do You Have a Question About Travel Nursing?
Submit a question to Aaron, our travel nursing expert, today.
Or apply now to get started on a travel nursing assignment.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Equanimity: Is It Possible?

By Aaron Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert

I am not usually a word-of-the-day type of person, but I recently discovered “equanimity” and have since loved to use it. To me, this word can really apply to the life of a nurse.

Equanimity comes from the Latin word aequanimitas, meaning even-minded. The definition I like best is “a habit of mind that is only rarely disturbed under great strain.” Does that describe the nurses you know?

As nurses, we have to deal with stress on a daily basis. Caring for the sick, injured and dying can be tough and it requires compassion, which can lead to caregiver strain and stress. If you’re not careful, even the little things can start to add up, like what I call “call-light stress” and the fatigue brought on by working nights with little sleep and skipped meal breaks. And when the coffee pot stops working, everyone had better watch out!

Choosing to stay calm during these situations can really keep you going—even if you are traveling to a new job every 13 weeks or so. In fact, if you are lucky enough to work as a travel nurse, you may have a greater ability to keep stress under control. Travel nurses don’t have to endure all the meetings and bureaucracy that staff nurses do, they can often spend more time with patients, and they can spend their time off exploring a new city and experiencing new things. It can be like a working vacation.

So, I say, “Bring on the equanimity.” If we can find peace in all situations, we can really start to enjoy things in this life. Spend your work time working and your off time doing what you like. And when you fully enjoy your time off, you will be less stressed and more effective when you do go back work.

Keep calm and carry on!

With true equanimity, you don’t have to worry about the stresses of work following you home. You deal with things as they come up and take things in stride.

That doesn’t mean you won’t encounter stressful situations or you won’t feel stressed out at times: it just means finding peace at these times is possible. Two keys to success: (1) taking care of yourself, and, (2) coming together as a team to support each other.

I have rarely found a group of nurses and doctors that won’t rise up to great stress and overcome. Even if you’re the new guy or gal on that team, you’ll usually experience that attitude of, “We all went through this together.” We may not always keep our cool, but if we work together we will survive with our psyches intact.

This attitude of equanimity can be contagious; soon your co-workers and family will be asking what your secret is to staying calm. All nurses deal with stress, but with the right “habit of mind,” it won’t get you down!

Do You Have a Question About Travel Nursing?
Submit a question to Aaron, our travel nursing expert, today.
Or apply now to get started on a travel nursing assignment.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Top Apps for Travel Nurses

By Aaron Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert

In this technological age we want apps for everything, and our smartphones are filled with single-tap solutions to everyday problems and interests. While app stores have many things that could potentially be helpful to travel nurses, I’ve developed my own list of favorites, based on my travel experiences.

Below, and in no particular order, are my favorite apps for travel nurses:

Yelp
I have been a huge fan of this website for years. For a site that mainly started out as a way to get real-time reviews and recommendations on restaurants by real patrons, it has rapidly evolved into a list of nearly all businesses and venues. Personally, I still use this app mainly for restaurants. As a travel nurse, you move a lot and drive through many new places; this app can help you avoid a bad meal and find a nice place for a relaxing drink after a long drive or 12-hour shift. I have rarely been disappointed by my fellow yelpers and their recommendations.

Kayak
Travel search website Kayak.com quickly became my favorite site for finding the best deals on flights when it came out in January 2004. In its early days, Kayak only handled searched for flights and didn’t allow booking. Now you can prepay for flights, hotel reservations and even car rentals. One of my favorite things about Kayak is that it shows competitors’ pricing compared to theirs, saving you time and money. As this company expands, I look to see them becoming the main player for booking travel.

Expedia
Expedia has long been known as a travel search website, used by thousands for almost a decade. It allows for reviews, information and booking. The mobile apps have some mobile-exclusive discounts on last-minute hotel bookings, which can be good if you decide to drive that extra 100 miles toward your next assignment. They also put all the usual flight and hotel search functionality at your fingertips. Like any other site, take the reviews with a grain of salt, as some people may just be cranky that they didn’t get what they wanted. Expedia apps also have a unique feature that allows you to sort reviews by certain topics depending on your search.

Epocrates Essentials
This complete drug reference app allows you access to tons of information about prescribed medications, herbals and over-the-counter drugs. It includes cool features such as a pill identifier, drug interaction guide, lab references and a cool infectious disease guide. It’s like having a pharmacist, infectious disease doctor and medical reference book in your pocket.

Infuse and MedCalc
Both of these are handy drug infusion calculators. They allow you to put in patients’ weights and dose desired and spit out an instant infusion rate for you to use. The thing I like about Infuse is the fact that you can change quickly based of differing concentrations. Now you may ask, “Aaron, why do I need this silly app when all pumps are smart pumps?” Well, not all hospitals can afford the smart pumps you may be used to. Admittedly this was a few years ago, but I’ll never forget one of my assignments where my first patient was being sedated with propofol; the technology used to mark the infusion rate was a Post-it note attached to the pump that only worked in ml/hr!

ACLS and PALS Advisors
As an instructor for these wonderful classes, I always teach, “Don’t memorize this stuff. It’s in a book on the crash cart!” Well, some hospital may not have that book, and still I wouldn’t encourage you to memorize every page of the algorithms. Use these helpful apps as a review or to guide you through “unstable bradycardia with a pulse.”

Google Maps
I know there may be other maps apps out there, but Google Maps quickly became my “go to.” Most smartphones come equipped with some sort of GPS/maps app and it is usually the default on your phone. So you may have to download this one, but so far it’s never failed me, and it won’t cost you anything. Since you may be driving in a new city every few months for your travel assignments, you do have more chances of getting lost. Overall, you just need an app you can trust.

So download these apps, or find your own favorites. The most important thing is that you use your resources to make yourself the best travel nurse you can be. Enjoy the mobile life in travel nursing!

Do You Have a Question About Travel Nursing?
Submit a question to Aaron, our travel nursing expert, today.
Or apply now to get started on a travel nursing assignment.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Equipment Overload: 5 Tips for Nurses to Master the Unfamiliar

By Aaron Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert

Did you know that there are more than 10 companies that make IV infusion pumps? Just think how many pumps you might have to figure out how to use if you work as a travel nurse for a while--especially if you go across the country like I did.

In the modern healthcare setting, we have electronic equipment for everything from peritoneal dialysis to left ventricular assist devices. All of these devices require knowledge and skill before you can feel confident working with them. The sheer number of possibilities can produce anxiety in the most tenured of nurses, but there are several resources that can help.

Below are a few tips I picked up over the years to find these resources and make life a little easier when it comes to figuring out unfamiliar equipment.

1. Most units have a nurse educator; locate this person at the beginning of your assignment and use him or her as a resource when needed. Ask during orientation to have the educator go through any equipment you don’t know or haven’t used in a while; this is their job, so they should be more than happy to help you.

2. Do and see as much as you can during orientation, whether it lasts for one day or one week. If the person you’re assigned to shadow has easy patients, ask to follow someone else so you can experience how things work in the unit.

3. If you are assigned a patient who is using equipment for his care that you are not familiar with, don’t be ashamed to ask for a different assignment. If “just-in-time” education will work, then be a team player and help out. Ultimately your license is on the line, and the care of the patient comes first. So protect the patient and yourself by practicing within your scope and not doing anything that doesn’t feel safe.

4. Most equipment has online manuals. Look up the companies’ websites for helpful tips, videos, and PDF documents on how to use them. Many companies now have 24-hour help lines you can call, as well, and some companies post instructional videos on their own sites or on YouTube.

5. Most importantly, ask questions. The full-time staff at your current assignment know their equipment and will gladly share tips and tricks with you. I know there is a certain level of pride when it comes to admitting you don’t know something, but this is too important. Swallow your pride and ask someone.

In travel nursing, you must quickly learn how to use the resources available to you. A lot goes into being a competent nurse, and travel nursing increases the number of things you need to know. So take care of yourself and use your resources!

Do You Have a Question About Travel Nursing?
Submit a question to Aaron, our travel nursing expert, today.
Or apply now to get started on a travel nursing assignment.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

MRSA, VRE, EVD and C Diff, Oh My!

By Aaron J. Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert

Staff nurses have it hard enough, keeping up with all of the protocols, guidelines and best practices required by their facility. Travel nurses have the added pressure of having to deal with many changing protocols every 13 weeks or so, as they move from one facility to the next.

Some of these protocols can be tough to deal with, such as transferring of patients from tertiary facilities. Some are easy, such as AHA guidelines for stroke or heart attack patients. And others, such as infection control guidelines, have become extremely hot topics since Ebola showed its ugly head in the United States just a few weeks ago.

Below is a basic outline of what standard, contact and droplet precautions for infection control might look like at your facility. Always make sure and refer to your local policies and procedures for updated information and click here for more details from the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Standard Precautions: Standard precautions are used to care for all patients in all healthcare settings and apply to blood, all body fluids, secretions and excretions (except sweat), non-intact skin, and mucous membranes. Standard Precautions involve procedures to prevent transmission of infection through use of hand hygiene; personal protective equipment; respiratory/cough etiquette; special care in handling used equipment, linen, eating utensils; proper patient placement; cleaning and disinfection of surfaces; and safer sharps practices.
Equipment needed: As appropriate, gloves, gown, etc., including standard hand hygiene supplies and reminders.

Contact Precautions: These precautions should be used for specified patients known or suspected to be colonized or infected with epidemiologically significant microorganisms that can be transmitted by direct contact with the patient or indirect contact with environmental surfaces or patient-care items in the patient's environment. These measures are used in addition to Standard Precautions.
Equipment needed: Gloves and gown are mandatory here, folks!

Droplet Precautions: These precautions are used for a patient known or suspected to be infected with microorganisms transmitted by droplets (large-particle droplets that can be generated by the patient during coughing, sneezing, talking or performance of procedures). These measures are used in addition to Standard Precautions.
Equipment needed: Gloves and gown along with a standard mask that covers your face; this may include eye protection when appropriate. Note that the CDC’s updated Ebola protocols for personal protective equipment are much more detailed, and require more than a standard surgical mask.

Even though infection control guidelines can seem like standard protocols across all hospitals, there may be a little change here and there. So make sure and ask during orientation about what to do in all these cases, and where you can find the equipment you need. Even though the chances of you seeing an Ebola patient are very small, the chances of you taking care of a patient with Influenza are very high. So know your protocols and isolation precautions … and, as always, don’t forget to wash your hands.

Do You Have a Question About Travel Nursing?
Submit a question to Aaron, our travel nursing expert, today.
Or apply now to get started on a travel nursing assignment.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dress Code, What Dress Code?

By Aaron J. Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert

As nurses we know we have the overall best uniforms when it comes to jobs. I have heard them referred to as suits or pajamas. To me they’re just simple and comfortable. But in this day and age, even a simple thing like scrubs can be made complex with different colors and styles. Especially for non-style experts like myself; most non-work days I can be found in shorts, T-shirt and flip flops.

I have found that most hospitals are pretty easygoing when it comes to dress code. Any pair of clean scrubs will do. They are more worried about hand washing and a properly displayed name tag than what colors you are wearing.

Some, however, have taken dress codes to the extreme. I have worked at some hospitals that mandate embroidered scrubs in only a limited line of styles and colors that are bought through them. As a traveler, I have worked for this type of hospital. I was a little shocked the first day when I showed up to orientation and saw everyone else in these “designer scrubs.” I quickly went to the manager and asked what my dress code would be. Luckily, I only had to wear the light blue color that the other staff had and in any style.

This was the last time I made the mistake of not asking about the dress code at the unit ahead of time. Of course, I always waited until after accepting the job to ask simple questions like this, but overall it helped me better prepare myself for the first day.

I would rather avoid surprises on a travel assignment, and you can apply this process to any questions you may have. If you have a major question about your work assignment, ask during your interview. When it comes to smaller inquiries like dress code, keep these for after you’ve locked up the job.

In regards to scrubs, I always carried a random assortment with me. If I had to buy a certain type or color, I kept them after the assignment, since you never know when another job might call for the same type. Or you may just go back to that hospital system again in your traveling future.

So pull on those pajamas ... uh, I mean professional work attire called scrubs and call your recruiter about a job. Live your own adventure this fall--in comfort and style--with travel nursing.

Do You Have a Question About Travel Nursing?
Submit a question to Aaron, our travel nursing expert, today.
Or apply now to get started on a travel nursing assignment.