By June 19, 2013 0 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: How to protect my license while traveling?

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Question ManAsk a Travel Nurse Question:  

I have been asked to take a telemetry test with the help of a clinical manager. I am a med/surg nurse and am not tele certified. I will be responsible for the patient and it makes me a little nervous. How can they give the hospital test scores for a nurse who doesn’t know anything about telemetry patients? Is this legal?

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

There are a few pieces of info that I will need to assume here. I assume that you are on a travel assignment and were contracted for a med/surg floor. If so, hopefully this is spelled out in your contract. If so, what are their reasons for making you take a tele test? From what you described, it does sound as if they are trying to put you into an area where you are not qualified (with the “help” of a clinical manager”).

The first thing you must do is call your recruiter and make sure they are in the loop on this. Hopefully, they will back any decision you will make as it is your license at risk.

Next, you need to be very clear about what it is they will expect of you after this test. Are they then expecting you to take tele patients? If so, what would be your comfort level in that? While it is outside your comfort zone, it could actually be a rare opportunity (while on the road) to learn a skill and perhaps cross-train in being able to take care of a different type of patient population.

I was trained in critical care, which meant that everyone assumes you can work backward. If you can take ICU patients, you can certainly take tele or med-surg patients. But I don’t know that many tele nurses got their start by doing anything in depth to become “tele certified”. If it is an area that interests you (and could open you up to more assignment options) it might be worth a more positive take on it.

However, you do want to have enough resources to be confident in your practice. If you don’t, then don’t risk your license. But, analyzing rhythm strips is not rocket science and I actually taught myself out of a textbook my senior year in nursing school. We did cover it in class, but by that time, I already had a good idea of what I was doing. Since I knew I wanted to go into critical care, I took ACLS just a month out of nursing school (and we are talking back when ACLS was HARD!!).

You can look at it as an opportunity, but don’t be afraid to stand your ground if it freaks you out too much or makes you too uncomfortable. Again, it is your license and you are the only one who can safeguard that. Look at it as if something happened and you were in court on the witness stand . Would you say, “I was made to take this test, but I’ve never taken these type of patients before” or would your response be, “Despite never having taken care of tele patients before, I studied rhythm strip analysis, had adequate support, was tested on my knowledge, and felt confident in my ability to take care of a new patient population with the knowledge and skills provided me”. If it is the latter, then maybe take an opportunity to learn a new skill.

Again, if it freaks you out too much, have a conversation with your recruiter and tell them that this is outside your comfort zone and likely not what your contract states you would be doing. So while not really “illegal”, it might be in breach of your contract and offer you a way out if needed.

Hope this helps and if you have the time, please post a reply on the site to let us all know how it turns out.

David

david@travelnursesbible.com

 

First time bonus!

About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies.

I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today.

I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

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