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By February 3, 2010 0 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: How can I do my part in Haiti as a travel nurse?


I’m still trying to finish what will be a three-part posting on transportation options while on assignment. However, I wanted to post a Haiti update this week since so many of you have contacted me wanting information on how to help.

 Right after the quake, I was initially sent a mass email from one of the travel us-haiti-earthquake-2010-1-19-1-42-38companies with which I am signed up. They were advertising a pay rate for any nurses willing to travel to Haiti to assist with the relief effort. It seems they might have jumped the gun a little as they quickly posted a note on their website thanking everyone for an “overwhelming response”, but stated that any deployment might be delayed due to the international response that was in place. They also stated that they had over 200 nurses on st and -by to be processed for deployment and they would contact them when deployment was likely. Even as this message hit their website, CNN was reporting that nurses were in short supply in Haiti.

Another travel company that initially posted for nurses wanting to help in Haiti has also stated that they will not be sending anyone at this time. They cite various issues that include general overall safety risks and increased risks of communicable diseases and infections. 

While all of this might make it appear that nurses are not needed at the moment, most of us know this to be far from the truth. I tend to believe news media organizations that are actually reporting from Haiti as opposed to any information we have here stateside. What we appear to be suffering from is the tremendous bottleneck that makes many relief efforts a nightmare. The resources are there, the need is there, what is not present is the infrastructure to get the resources to the need.

Those wanting to help should continue to contact agencies that are associated with the relief effort. However, one organization, BCFS, who is parent company to Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI), states that they are positioning their resources for recovery, rather than response. I would say that this is likely where most agencies will find themselves in the coming months. The recovery effort will certainly last for months into years and the need for healthcare will continue during this time.

For now, I would try contacting any organization that is involved with spearheading medical efforts such as:

The American Red Cross or The World Health Organization

This is not to say that individual healthcare or travel companies will not be sending any nurses, but many have advertised Haiti relief and now just have nurses “waiting in the wings” for potential deployment.

There are also now travel nursing companies that are advertising a need in Florida due to the influx of quake victims. The governor recently signed executive order 10-20 that directs the board of nursing to expedite the applications of any nurse, holding a valid nursing license in another state, to work in the state of Florida. The order is in effect for 90 days following January 25th, 2010. You can see the fees and download an application here: (if this link is broke click here for their main site)

However, I contacted one of my recruiters that works for a nurse travel agency located in South Florida. She wrote that they had been notified as of Jan. 28th that “most facilities are not experiencing a nursing shortage as a result of the recent tragedy in Haiti”. Therefore, many facilities are not even accepting the temporary practice licensure. So, if you are looking to take a Florida assignment with any company under this executive order, make sure that the facility in which you will be working will accept you under this order.

I will continue to pass along info as it becomes available and thank you to all that have contacted me wanting to help.

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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