By April 13, 2011 0 Comments

Per Diem Corner: Tips for Staying Current and Competent

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Medical nurses are showing okay with fingersPer diem nurses have an enormous knowledge base, stemming from their ability to adapt to and provide quality nursing care in various settings. We are often the first to be consulted by our colleagues on how to perform a procedure, or to care for patients requiring extensive nursing care and monitoring. Our responsibility is not to be taken lightly, and the job is not for the ill-prepared. Per diem nurses must keep their knowledge current and their skills fine-tuned – our reputation, and our patients, depend on our ability to remain expert clinicians. So, how do we stay ahead of the game? Here are some tips to keep you current, competent, and certified.

Join a professional organization

Professional organizations are great resources in keeping you abreast of practice changes and emerging trends. Get involved in the professional organization related to your field of expertise, and open the door to continual education opportunities. These organizations provide trainings and continuing education units (CEUs) relevant to your practice, enhancing your knowledge base and skill level. Many nursing professional organizations offer publications monthly, quarterly, or annually. Membership fees vary in price ranges, however, are well worth the investment in your skill growth.

Participate in skill fairs and unit-based trainings

Many health care organizations provide nursing staff with periodic skills and competency-based training. These trainings are designed to keep staff nurses competent in the skills necessary to do their jobs effectively. Most times these skill fairs and unit-based trainings are conducted throughout the shift, and are open to all nursing staff on duty. Take advantage of these free training sessions, and of any opportunity to gain new certifications. This is an economical and convenient way of staying current in your nursing practice, and aware of facility-specific expectations related to nursing care and responsibility.

Seek certification

Are you a pediatric nurse? Do you practice as a critical care or medical-surgical nurse? Take your knowledge base to another level through certification. Nurses certified in their field of expertise gain greater insight and knowledge regarding skills necessary for a particular area of nursing. Preparing for and maintaining certification status adds accountability for per diem nurses to remain current in the care they provide. Seek certification, and increase your knowledge, efficiency, and marketability.

Teach your skills to others

Teaching is a wonderful way to stay current and competent in your nursing skills. Nurse educators have a huge responsibility to pass on knowledge and training that is current, evidence-based, and relevant. Teaching your nursing skills to others will not only broaden your depth of knowledge and expertise, it also forces you to keep skills current and up-to-date. As you prepare to impart into others your knowledge and expertise, you begin to seek opportunities for growth to enhance your teaching skills. Teaching someone else to do what you do is an excellent way to remain accountable for honing your own nursing skills.

About the Author:

Brandi London is a registered nurse with a wide variety of clinical experience in medical/surgical, progressive care, emergency, and telemetry environments. Her nine years of nursing experience includes seven years experience as a per diem/float nurse. Brandi currently works as a clinical coordinator for a local school of nursing while continuing her clinical experience as a per diem nurse for a local teaching hospital. She looks forward to completing her Masters of Science in Nursing degree with a concentration in nursing education by October 2011. In her spare time, Brandi enjoys dancing, spending time with her family, and supporting the visual arts.

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