Chronic conditions can be challenging for anyone, but they can be especially difficult for patients. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 30% of the adult US population suffers from chronic disease. They require regular monitoring and care that doesn’t always fit into a typical work week.
But what happens when the patient needs to go on vacation? That’s where your travel nurse comes in. You need to know how to choose a travel nurse so you don’t put the patient at risk of complications while traveling. In this post, we’ll outline the steps you should take when hiring your next travel nurse:
Understanding the Patient’s Needs
When looking for a travel nurse for a patient with a chronic illness, there are several things to consider. Patients with chronic diseases may be in pain and suffering from the side effects of treatment. They might also be anxious about their condition or worried about how it will affect their quality of life.
These concerns can cause them difficulty communicating their needs, especially if they don’t want to burden others with this information. You must understand how your loved one feels so that you can help them get what they need while traveling.
Moreover, some people with chronic illnesses cannot leave their homes due to limitations caused by their condition. In these cases, having someone come into your home could make all the difference between being able to go on trips or not. For the unversed, around 1,450,000 people in the US were employed in-home healthcare services in 2021.
Qualities and Skills to Look for in a Travel Nurse
To ensure hiring the proper travel nurse for the patient, you should look at the qualities and skills they have. Here are some factors you should consider:
Having the right education background is vital in the healthcare sector. There are various ways through which a nurse would have the education required to care for a chronic illness patient.
Most travel nurses have a bachelor’s degree, but this is not always the case. Some hospitals prefer that their travel nurses have at least a master’s degree. A nurse with a bachelor’s degree in nursing will give you an advantage over those without formal education.
There are two degrees for this formal education: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN). According to Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, BSN is for those without a bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, ABSN is appropriate for those with a bachelor’s degree but in some other field.
You need to choose between BSN grads vs. ABSN graduates. When it comes to the quality of education received, there’s not much of a difference between them. The actual comparison is required for aspiring nurses. But you can go with a travel nurse with any of these degrees.
Additionally, having a travel nurse by your side will ensure that he or she can treat your patient in multiple states. Currently, 39 jurisdictions are a part of the Nurse Licensure Compact, which allows travel nurses to work in various states. This enables travel nurses to work without having to apply for additional licenses.
▶ Compassion, Empathy, and Bedside Manner
When selecting a travel nurse for your patient, look for these skills:
- Compassion. Travel nurses need to understand what it’s like to be a patient with chronic illness.
- Empathy. They need the ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes and feel what they’re feeling. This helps them communicate better with patients and their families, who are often scared or confused about their illness.
- Bedside manner. A good travel nurse will communicate clearly with patients about their condition, treatment options, and prognosis without being too technical. He or she will listen attentively as the patient explains their needs to meet them.
▶ Clinical Expertise and Experience in Managing Chronic Illness
When selecting a travel nurse for a patient with chronic illness, look at clinical expertise and experience in managing chronic disease.
The complexity of chronic illness can make it challenging for nurses who are new to treating these patients. Hence, look for someone who has worked with people with similar conditions and knows how best to manage them.
Also, consider whether or not the candidate has experience working with your specific type of patient population, elderly or pediatric. Consider if they have specialties like wound care or palliative care that might be useful for your situation.
▶ Communication and Collaboration Skills
Patient-nurse communication and collaboration are critical to the success of any medical treatment. The travel nurse must communicate effectively with the patient and medical team to provide quality care. Communication with patients can take many forms: verbal, non-verbal, written, or electronic.
The travel nurse should also have excellent collaboration skills to work well with other team members. This includes working with doctors, psychologists, social workers, and other nurses who may be involved in treating your loved one.
Matching the Nurse’s Expertise with the Patient’s Needs
Matching a nurse’s expertise with a patient’s needs is critical to healthcare, especially in travel nursing. Travel nurses often work in different healthcare facilities and must be adaptable to various patient populations and clinical settings. Here’s a step-by-step guide to finding the right travel nurse for a patient’s needs:
- Assess patient’s needs: Start by thoroughly assessing the patient’s medical condition and care requirements. Consider the diagnosis, treatment plan, and any special needs the patient may have.
- Determine required nursing specialization: Identify the specific nursing specialization or expertise needed to care for the patient. This could include critical care, pediatrics, oncology, maternity, etc. Travel nurses mainly specialize in ICU, operating room, medical-surgical, and emergency room procedures. Additionally, they may specialize in obstetrics nursing, neonatal nursing, pediatrics, or geriatrics.
- Contact travel nurse agencies: Contact reputable agencies with experienced nurses. Provide them with the job description and detailed patient needs information.
- Review nurse profiles: Ask the travel nurse agency to provide profiles of potential candidates matching the job description. Review each nurse’s qualifications, experience, and certifications.
- Interview candidates: Conduct interviews with the selected candidates to assess their clinical expertise and ability to adapt to different healthcare settings. Ask about their experience with similar patient cases.
- Evaluate cultural fit: Consider the nurse’s interpersonal skills and ability to work well with the patient, other healthcare providers, and the facility’s staff. A good cultural fit is essential for effective care.
- Discuss expectations: Communicate the patient’s needs, expectations, and care plan to the selected travel nurse. Ensure they understand the role and responsibilities.
- Monitor performance: Continuously monitor the nurse’s and patient’s progress. Provide feedback and support as needed to ensure the best possible care.
- Evaluate continuously: Regularly assess the nurse-patient match to ensure that the patient’s evolving needs are effectively met. Make adjustments as necessary.
Preparing for the Assignment
The following is a list of tasks you can do to prepare for your travel nurse:
- Prepare the patient for the assignment. Give them some background on what it means to have a travel nurse. Also, let them know that this person may differ from their usual care team.
- Prepare yourself for the assignment. If this is your first time working with a travel nurse, ensure you’re also prepared. It’s essential that everyone involved understands what they need from each other. While it might sound obvious at first glance, sometimes people don’t realize how much work goes into ensuring everyone gets along well.
Continuous Monitoring and Feedback
The travel nurse should be monitored and given feedback regularly. This can be done in a variety of ways, including:
- Reviewing patient charts together. You can go through the chart with your travel nurse, looking at each entry to see if they could provide appropriate care. If there are any areas where you feel they could have done better, discuss it with them then and there.
- Conducting random visits throughout the day or week. If possible, do this without letting anyone else know it’s happening. That way, your patients won’t feel anything unusual about their care during travel.
We hope this article has helped you understand how to find the proper travel nurse for your patient with chronic illness. You can follow the tips mentioned in this article as the foundation and hire the right nurse. The best nurse for you will depend on your specific needs. So, analyze your needs and decide accordingly.