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By July 13, 2012 0 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: I failed my EKG test, What now?


ekg testAsk a Travel Nurse Question:

I am a PACU RN with 14yrs of critical exp. I just had the shock of my life as my family and I were preparing to move to Washington DC next month for a 6 month travel contract. I took and failed the EKG test twice yesterday, partly due to over fatigue and stress. I studied my strips until 6am in the morning and decided to take it. Needless to say the rest of 80%(passing score of 85). I received the devastating news after I have given my current employer and apartment their 2 weeks notice. What can I do? Can I call the hospital itself to try to plead my case? HELP I NEED SOME ADVICE. WE ARE ALL PACKED AND READY TO GO.


Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

Testing and competencies are the only way that facilities are able to gauge the knowledge of the travelers they hire. Unfortunately, rarely do tests take into account external factors like the ones you mentioned.

To try to remedy the situation, I would not hesitate to call anyone who would be willing to listen to your explanation. I imagine that in PACU, you are not as focused on EKG interpretation as we are in ICU. However, you certainly need to show competency on dangerous arrhythmias that require intervention.

Do you know the results of your exam including which arrhythmias you missed? If you missed strips like first or second degree heart blocks that is certainly easier to argue than missing V-tach. Where did you take the exam? Was this administered through the facility or by your travel company? (assuming you are using a travel agency and not contracting with the hospital directly) Your company would certainly have a vested interest in you having the ability to keep the assignment. Do you have an option to retake the exam in another day or two? If you are with a travel company, what does your recruiter say?

Again, I would call anyone that will listen to your explanation. Also, ask them if there is anything else you can do. If not, I would ask your recruiter, or quickly call any company you are on file with, and see if they can find you another DC assignment. This is one reason I always encourage nurses to be on file with a h and ful of companies.

If you need some contacts at other companies, please feel free to email me directly at I actually had another traveler contact me who had lost his contract. I gave him my sources and he was able to find another contract in the area so that he did not have to head home.



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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