- Many nurses take up travel nursing to see the world while helping others. But what does travel nursing look like now during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here's what to know
The COVID-19 pandemic has been raging for months in the United States and is showing no signs of slowing down. Healthcare workers on the front lines are exhausted, both physically and emotionally, from caring for patients who have been struck down by the disease. Additionally, many have become ill themselves after caring for patients with COVID-19.
In many places, the shortage of trained personnel has become even more obvious during the pandemic. We need traveling nurses who are willing to step in where they are most needed and provide relief for overworked staff at hospitals around the country. But what should nurses know about working temporary jobs at different sites during the pandemic?
What’s the Role of Travel Nurse During Crises?
As the pandemic has swept across the nation, it has hit different areas and various populations at different times. Travel nurses are helping to fill in the gaps when large patient influxes occur. Even if they aren’t working with COVID patients directly, travel nurses help to ease the burden on permanent nursing staff, who may be overwhelmed by the ill patients coming through their doors.
During any public health crisis, the role of a traveling nurse is to help populations in need. In the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses are urgently needed to serve underprivileged populations and the elderly, who have been disproportionately affected by the virus. Traveling nurses have the ability to serve wherever they are most needed and are used to being adaptable in tough situations.
Don’t Discredit the Importance of Self-Care
Being a traveling nurse is challenging at the best of times. Moving frequently, having to learn the ropes at a new facility, and constantly getting to know new coworkers can be emotionally draining. Serving at different hospitals keeps things interesting, but it can also lead to issues like burnout.
During the pandemic, traveling nurses are experiencing even more hardships and obstacles. One nurse talked about the trauma of seeing so many critically ill patients talking to their loved ones on the phone, unable to see or touch them in person. These kinds of experiences, along with the fear of contracting COVID-19 and the sheer number of patients, can cause burnout and even mental health issues.
Nurses working on the COVID front lines have to make time for self-care, especially those who are working away from home. Traveling nurses should check in with friends and family frequently, set aside time for exercise, reading, or other enjoyable activities, and try to limit their exposure to upsetting news stories after work.
But Stay Educated & Aware Through News & Online Resources
As important as it is to practice self-care and to avoid spending too much time reading the news, it is important for nurses to stay in touch and up-to-date about the state of the pandemic and the country in general. Nurses have to follow best practices and guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and should stay informed about the latest scientific findings.
For healthy media consumption, healthcare professionals should limit their news to a few trustworthy sources and check them at a certain time each day. It’s possible to stay well-informed without letting news stories cause anxiety and other issues, but it takes effort to prevent news burnout.
Travel Nurses Continuing to Fight the Good Fight for Better Public Health
In the United States, we still have a long way to go in terms of equality in all facets of our society. During the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are becoming aware of just how much public health crises disproportionally affect underprivileged populations.
Unfortunately, these vulnerable populations are also more likely to receive poor healthcare overall. Health disparities affect people based on many factors, including race, income, education level, and disability. When public health issues arise, lack of proper healthcare means that people within vulnerable groups are less likely to recover or will recover with diminished ability to work and enjoy life.
We have a lot of work to do before solutions to these problems will be fully realized. In the meantime, travel nurses are fighting the good fight and coming to hard-hit areas affected by COVID-19. Caring healthcare professionals on the front lines continue to fight for better public health every single day.