9 Things Every Hospital Should Consider for Travel Nurses
Every hospital has turned to travel nursing to help fill a short staff in a pinch.
Any temporary position will have its learning period in any industry, but travel healthcare has its challenges.
These suggestions are designed to maximize efficiency for both parties and help ease the transition, not just for this contract, but for every contract to come.
Efficiency in travel healthcare is so important because the learning period is so short while the specialized, high skill role increases the stakes. After all, the facility is bringing in travel nurses because it needs help immediately.
1. Create a Special Orientation for Travel Nurses
Almost every facility gives its travel nurses the same orientation as their permanent staff. Many facilities do this out of lack of resources, and some just haven’t thought about it. The truth is travel nurses don’t need to hear about your facility’s benefit plans. That time can be better put to use, especially when the travel nurse is expected to hit the ground running.
If your facility doesn’t have the time or resources to make this change but see the issue, you can try something else. Placing your orientation subjects in time blocks allows the travelers to sit in for relevant items, which can free up time for things they wish they had time to do, like floor tours.
2. Equipment Orientation
Something travel nurses would love the extra time to do is equipment time. While the equipment is typically the same from facility to facility, variations in make and model can make a product seem foreign. A simple orientation upon arrival can save much needed time on the floor in crunch time.
3. Access Credentials
A huge time saver is to get all of your travel nurses the proper access to the tools they’ll need during their shifts. Facilities that ensure travel nurses have computer access to everything they need on their first day make a world of difference!
4. Email Access
Email is the primary means of communication in every hospital. Unfortunately, most of these facilities do not provide company emails for travel nurses. Not providing can become troublesome when the Unit manager is sending important information via email, and the travel nurses are continually playing catch up. Every facility should consider creating a temporary email for travel nurses so they can keep inside the loop along with their unit.
5. Provide a Building Map
Nearly every travel nurse taking a contract at your facility has never been to your campus. Their travel window is small between assignments, and most travel nurses are working to secure proper housing in that short window. Consequently, most travel nurses do not get the time before their first day to scout the facility as a local hire would. A building map with a legend of essential locations. These can be simple things like parking, bathrooms, cafeteria and vending machines, the staffing office, the security office, the orientation location, and any contact information.
6. Give Travel Nurses Cheat Sheets
As we said before travel nurses have to hit the ground running. To encourage this, facilities create incentives for travel nurses. Most travel nurses would agree that a facility cheat sheet can significantly increase their odds of success. These could include:
- Admissions and discharge steps
- Contact numbers for common resources
- General policies for individual units or the entire facilities
- A contact list of doctors with exclusive privileges as well as their specialties, practice, and name in the EMR system and preferred name
7. Housing Help
Housing can be so hard to find in some areas that most travel nurses will pass on an attractive contract entirely. Bigger markets like NYC and LA are generally places where affordable housing can be harder to secure. And in smaller rural areas it is harder to find adequate temporary housing.
It is not the facility’s job to find its staff housing, but it can be a huge help. They can become experts in their local area and provide inside information to help get proper housing. Local expertise can be a huge advantage in attracting talent in a competitive market.
8. Hold off on Floating (for now)
Floating comes with the job. But, holding off on floating travel nurses for a short period allows them to gain their footing better. Giving a travel nurse at least two weeks before floating lets them get familiar with the facility and their new team. Also, consider a travel nurse’s specialty if they have to float to units which they have no experience for then its much more likely their patient satisfaction and efficiency will go down. Another factor to consider is preventing burnout and fostering teamwork. Floating a travel nurse with the rest of the staff is an excellent practice for both.
9. Create a Welcoming Environment
Unfortunately, it’s uncommon for facilities to create a welcoming environment for travel nurses successfully. Simple gestures like introducing them to staff and inviting them to post-shift extracurriculars often are overlooked.
Some places have even been known to treat travel nurses more harshly. They are floated immediately, given the harder patients, and neglected to the point of isolation and marginalization. It’s a poor way to get great work out of your new travel nurse.
Making an effort to welcome a new travel nurse is essential to the job. A unit requires teamwork and dedication to survive, which requires every member to be involved.
Remember, travel nurses are there to help. They are required to do so much in such a short amount of time that their burnout rate is much higher in the beginning. Fostering a welcoming environment speeds the transition, which increases patient and job satisfaction.
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