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!