Travel Nurses can Improve Shortage-Related Patient Care Outcomes
By Christine Whitmarsh, RN, BSN
Ideal patient care through the eyes of a camera lens in a futuristic movie might consist of a security camera mounted in the corner of a hospital room and a series of machines attached to the patient, monitoring their condition. Perhaps a nurse or similar human health monitor would be down the hall monitoring all the patients’ conditions for abnormalities. Poof! Nurses needed no more, right? Wrong – so very wrong.
Nurses, RNs in particular, are trained to observe even the most subtle changes in a patient’s conditions. Without adequate levels of nursing care, studies have shown that negative patient outcomes such as pneumonia, shock, cardiac arrest, and urinary tract infections increase*. Patient safety is also at risk without adequate nursing attention. As a neurological nurse, I learned how the slightest alteration in a patient level of consciousness can be an indicator of a worsening condition. These are signs that only a live, trained person can pick up on.
The level of care and attention to detail required for good nursing care takes time and therefore requires therapeutic nurse to patient ratios (California prescribes 5 to 1). Currently, because those ratios are not being met, there is a nursing shortage.
Travel nursing companies are recruiting trained RNs from all specialty areas to fill in the staffing gaps at hospitals across the country. Until and even after, nursing schools can catch up with the demand and start graduating more nurses, travel nursing companies can act as life savers to hospitals, clinics and other type of clinical settings where nurses are needed. A career in travel nursing gives the travel nurse the satisfaction of improving patient outcomes. In this very personal and also personally rewarding profession, where every nurse is aware that every patient is someone’s mother, father, child, husband, wife, brother, or sister, being a travel nurse and filling in staffing gaps, can be a very satisfying experience.
*Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
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.