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The Best Ways Travel Nurses Can Help During a Crisis

Posted on: July 02, 2020

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written by

Risa Kerslake, RN

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Travel nurses make up only a small percentage of the 2.9 million registered nurses in the United States, but you can offer a lot during crisis situations. The fact that travel nurses are so versatile makes you well-suited for the position to jump right in to help. Travel nurses have been used for crisis relief in natural disasters in the country such as hurricanes, but are now helping on the front lines of the COVID-29 pandemic. In fact, travel nurses have made headlines as many of them have been sent to areas where hospitals have been hit hardest. Here are some of the ways your role as a travel nurse can help the most during crisis situations. 

The ability to go anywhere

As a travel nurse, if disaster strikes, you are one of the few healthcare workers with the most flexibility to respond in a timely manner. You also have the ability to take assignments for several weeks to several months. In cases of a pandemic, there are different staffing needs for different hospitals and other healthcare facilities and you can help fill those demands. Likewise, your expertise may also be called on to specific parts of the country where positions need to be filled immediately. If your home licensed state is part of the Nurse Licensure Compact, it makes it even easier to travel to other areas, as 34 states currently participate. 

Expertise from your previous assignments

Even if you’re relatively new to travel nursing, you probably have a lot of experience to offer in your next assignment. Especially with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, many city hospitals have been overwhelmed with patients and that means nurses are being pulled in to help from departments other than the ICU or emergency room. Your expertise is an asset during this time. You have the opportunity to provide mentorship and education to regular staff who may be in over their head as they find themselves suddenly immersed in a makeshift ICU. You don’t even have to have spent time in either of these areas — public health experience is helpful too. 

Ease staff burnout

Your assistance is needed whenever healthcare facilities are over capacity or overwhelmed with an influx of patients whether it’s due to a national emergency or disaster relief. In a pandemic, it goes without saying that the hospitals in the country with the highest cases of illness also probably have the most nurses struggling with burnout to care for these patients. Travel nurses can help ease this burden by filling vacant positions in hospitals and other facilities where staffing is needed.  

Fill in the large gaps in staffing

When large amounts of staff nurses helping in a crisis are incapacitated themselves, this understandably places a strain on healthy employees on the front lines due to a shortage of help. Travel nurses can come on board and are usually up and running after a week of orientation. This means there is less interruption in staff, and better outcomes for patient safety. You may be used to filling positions due to maternity leaves or other shortages at a hospital, but these gaps can increase dramatically in a crisis situation such as a natural disaster or pandemic and the need for your skills and flexibility are greater than they ever have been.

Risa Kerslake, RN
About Risa Kerslake, RN

Risa Kerslake, RN, BSN is a Minnesota-based nurse and freelance writer. She has experience in a variety of settings including psychiatric nursing, triage, and case management. Learn more about her freelance writing at RisaKerslakeWrites.com.