By Christine Whitmarsh, RN, BSN
The tragic death of Natasha Richardson from an initially undetected and later fatal head injury is a reminder of the unique patient challenges faced by nurses working in winter recreation communities. While on assignment in popular travel nursing locations such as California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Hampshire, the travel nurse confronts a myriad of patient injuries resulting from skiing and other high risk, high intensity mountain sports.
A travel nurse working in the ER, as a flight nurse on a trauma helicopter or in neurology, likely understands the consequences of ignoring a “talking and dying” condition such as a head injury (an epidural hematoma in Ms. Richardson’s case), more than any of the professional, amateur and weekend warriors speeding down scenic, slippery slopes at breakneck speeds. Nurses working in these areas of the country and travel nurses fortunate enough to get assignments among some of America’s most scenic landscapes know better than most that an untreated head injury can quickly turn into a ticking time bomb. Working in these areas is an opportunity to connect textbook knowledge of head injuries with real life scenarios.
In addition to head injuries, travel nurses working in popular winter sports and leisure areas gain expertise treating patients with neck and back injuries, hypothermia, broken bones and other general trauma that a day on the slopes can earn even the most experienced sportsman. Of course, while gaining valuable experience and learning new skills working with trauma patients, the travel nurse with a personal passion for winter recreation has endless choices of activities to pursue during their days off. A travel nursing assignment in the mountains is an ideal way to gain new experience working in trauma settings while enjoying some of the nation’s most spectacular mountain scenery and diverse recreational activities.
Christine Whitmarsh is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from the University of Rhode Island. She is a freelance health journalist and medical writer and a contributor to Travel Nurse Source and Allied Travel Careers.