Since the novel coronavirus (COVID-19…like we have to tell you) reached pandemic status, a lot of things have happened. March has been quite a year…ahem, *month*. Sports have been canceled or suspended, children in schools all over the U.S. and around the world are now certified homeschoolers, and “social distancing” has become a household term.
For healthcare travelers, the most significant thing happening is the call of duty from healthcare facilities all over the U.S., but especially in states where COVID-19 has hit the worst thus far.
Jalen Moore, an Emerald Health Services travel nurse currently working in San Antonio, TX, gave us some of his inside knowledge on the situation, along with advice for other healthcare travelers as well as the general public. Here’s what we know:
1. Healthcare travelers will join the front-lines of COVID-19
On a typical assignment, travel nurses or other healthcare travelers are brought in to support and assist immediate needs at a facility, and the COVID-19 crisis is no different.
“The nature of being a travel nurse is being put where the hospital needs you, and the need right now is obviously for this [COVID-19],” said Moore. “That dynamic already exists as a traveler, and we’re used to hitting the ground running. In most cases, if you’re available then you’re taking the virus cases. As healthcare workers and as travelers, this is what we signed up for.”
2. The situation is ever-changing
It’s no surprise that there is new information introduced daily (or hourly, depending on how often you check the news) about the COVID-19 pandemic. But how does this affect hospitals dealing with the virus, and the healthcare workers who staff them?
At Jalen’s hospital, nurses have gone from wearing respirator masks around patients who may have the virus one day, to being told only to wear a surgical mask the next day. Policy is touch and go as supplies dwindle and new best practices become available.
“Honestly, we are figuring it out – as nurses we know how to protect ourselves, but running out of equipment makes it difficult to stick with one policy consistently, so things change as needed,” said Moore. “
4. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is limited at some facilities
The overwhelming response that Emerald recruiters have received from their travelers is that they aren’t scared of the virus itself, but they are apprehensive about not having PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) such as masks, gowns and face shields. Some nurses have been told they are limited to the number of masks per day, some must ask special permission to use a mask, and others don’t have access to masks at all.
“If you’re a travel nurse or clinician having difficulty accessing PPE, continue to advocate for your right to use this equipment when needed,” said Moore. “Having limited supplies at a facility is different than having no supplies.”
5. Educating about COVID-19 is a major part of travel nurses’ job
Aside from the obvious (providing medical care for patients), one of the major ways travel nurses can (and are) contributing to the slow-down of COVID-19 is by educating patients and their families. This does two things: 1) it calms hysteria by providing concrete facts, and 2) it gives people accurate protocol (following CDC and hospital guidelines) for when to quarantine, isolate, or come to the hospital.
“It’s not that all people don’t want to listen to us,” said Moore. “I think it’s just that people don’t quite understand the severity. In reality, the spread is dangerous, especially for the elderly or people with complications.”
Another issue, says Moore, is misinformation that is often spread via social media. “Don’t listen to rants of people who aren’t qualified to be ranting. Do listen to the experts and trained clinicians – we aren’t going to steer you wrong.”
Travel nurses’ job is to treat and educate. The patients’ and the general public’s job is to listen and follow instructions given by professionals (not your uncle on Facebook…unless he’s a healthcare provider, that is).
6. Healthcare travelers need to walk the walk
Nurses spend all day telling people it’s not good to spread COVID-19 to others, so if you are a healthcare traveler with reason to believe you have the disease, then you need to speak up. Emerald is currently offering full weekly salary and stipend for up to two weeks if you are required to be quarantined while on an Emerald assignment.
“Don’t put on a brave face if you have symptoms,” said Moore. “Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. Take care of the patients by implementing the knowledge you were given, protect yourselves and others. Stand up for yourself and let your company back you.”
7. This is everyone’s problem
One benefit of travel nursing is the ability to bounce from assignment to assignment, one location to another, and move on from the drawbacks you felt at a previous facility. Since COVID-19 is a global pandemic, shortages of PPE and overcrowding fears threaten healthcare facilities everywhere.
Rising to the occasion is the hallmark of travel nursing, and the incredible response of healthcare travelers to COVID-19 confirms their superhero status, wherever they may be on assignment.
If you’re a healthcare traveler seeking placement on assignment, Emerald Health Services is placing travelers nationwide at facilities offering rapid response rates and fast feedback – call 800.917.5055 to speak to a recruiter.
Current specialties in high demand at hospitals include:
- Intensive Care Unit (ICU/CCU) Travel Nurse (RN)
- Emergency Room (ER) Travel Nurse (RN)
- MedSurg Travel Nurse (RN)
- Travel Emergency Room Tech (ER Tech)
- Travel Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT)
- Travel Operating Room Tech (OR Tech)
- Travel Ultrasound Tech
- Travel X-Ray Tech
- Travel CT Tech
- Travel Social Workers
- And More!