Maybe you’ve heard about the story the Los Angeles Times and the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica published last week, ‘Temp firms a magnet for unfit nurses.’ What was your immediate response to the story, did it make you upset and angry that they were badmouthing our industry or was there a little bit of truth to it?
The article depicts the healthcare staffing industry, more particular, the travel nursing sector as the “wild west.” With roughly 6000+ different agencies available to healthcare professionals, it may seem so. There are few governing bodies that watch over these businesses and only 2 come to mind, the Joint Commission and NATHO (National Association of Travel Healthcare Organizations). Without any real standards set in place by the government or other entities, many of the 6000+ businesses out there are “fly by night” and are just created to make a quick buck. These types of agencies are more prone and likely to attract nurses who think and operate the same way. I’m not saying all traveling nurses who travel with these types of companies think that way, but those who take their professions seriously aren’t typically in it for the money and are looking for companies who are like-minded . They are nurses who are dedicated to the profession of healthcare and the quality of human life is what drives them, not a completion bonus.
It’s a shame that the nurses written about in the article are ruining it for everyone else. There’s no evidence by any means that proves that travel nurses are different (or worse) than a perm nurse. The only difference would be in the title, remove the word travel and they are still the same, a nurse. In fact, I would say that many of the traveling nurses out there are far more experienced and have a vast knowledge when it comes to patient care. Often, that is the one benefit that is overlooked when it comes to becoming a traveling nurse, but one that should be advertised far more than any referral bonuses. Experience alone though, doesn’t make the nurse. Yes, there are some bad apples who travel, but there are rotten ones too who are permanent.
So who’s to blame? The nurses who travel, or should I say, run from their pasts? Or are the staffing agencies and hospitals who hire them the ones who should be at fault? You could probably say, all of the above. It is the duty of the individual nurse to open and honest with their applications, licensures, certifications and so forth. It is the duty of the agencies who hire nurses to do a complete and thorough screening of each applicant and it is the duty of the hospital to ensure all that is reported is current and correct. Without these checks and balances it would be like the free for all and many unfortunate patients would suffer greater pain and unease due to the fact that those who are hired to take care of them don’t care at all.
There is no sign of the nursing shortage easing up and until there are some greater liability measures put in place, there will be issues with some “nurses” here and there. It’s too bad that the few that bring down the name of travel nursing is having such a negative impact on the industry. All it takes is for the rest of you to continue doing what you do by providing the best possible care, respecting the lives of others and taking to heart what it truly means to be a nurse in the world today.
Here’s a little tip sheet to remind you of some of the issues that many of the bad apples have overlooked and what you can do to avoid such pitfalls. Nurse liability: Keeping you and your staff educated and aware..
Please comment and share your thoughts about the article and the issue of liability, I’m sure you all have some great input into the matter.