Tough Stuff: Coping with Tough Stuff-Tips for Travel Nurses

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By TNAA Healthcare

August 1, 2021

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Coping With the Tough Stuff

This article provided by: Travel Nurse Across America

Nursing, often listed as one of the noblest and most trustworthy professions, focuses on compassionate care for patients. We often see images of nurses smiling at patients and sharing success stories, but as anyone in the medical field knows, that’s only one part of the story. Death, medical errors, and difficult prognosis are commonplace. And for travel nurses, who frequently travel solo or with a small support team, dealing with the tough stuff can be isolating.

Nurses deal with emotionally challenging situations daily. Unfortunately, a go-to guide on how to cope with death, loss, and mistakes doesn’t exist. But we do know it’s essential to take care of yourself, implementing ever-popular self-care strategies. It’s known that grief can impact the body physically, so eating well and moving your body can help combat those symptoms. It’s also paramount to acknowledge and care for yourself emotionally, whether it’s through faith, physical activity, or mental health care.

How Your Agency can Help

Again, travel nurses often are without their support systems. Think back to your first year of nursing or your perm jobs. Likely, you had coworkers, managers, and friends you saw consistently to whom you could vent or talk to when things went wrong at work. Whether they offered emotional support or career guidance during these tough times, when you’re on an assignment, you may also feel the loss of those support systems.

Emotional Support

tough stuff
Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

Look to your agency for emotional support systems. A great agency puts its nurses first, and that includes their emotional well-being. Here are some things to look for and ask about when interviewing an agency. Already traveling? Ask your recruiter if your agency offers emotional support.

  • Chaplain Service: Your patients utilize chaplains, and you can too. Some agencies offer a chaplain service you can call, text, or email. Typically they’re non-denominational and focus on being an outlet for you to help you move through the grief of tough times.
  • Paid Sick Leave: While no employer advertises using it for anything other than sickness, savvy nurses have used their accrued sick time for a mental health day. Ask your benefits team on how to utilize your sick time to ensure you aren’t penalized.
  • Employee Assistance Programs: Some agencies also offer access to help with work-life balance. For nurses coping with the emotionally tough side of nursing, these programs offer counseling services or can help you find a counseling service.

Career Support

Ask your agency about career support systems. Your agency should have programs designed to not only help you grow your career but also to protect your career. While you’re dealing with the emotional turmoil of making a medication error, your agency should be doing the groundwork to protect your license and your assignment. Here are a few things to ask your agency to check and ensure they have your back.

Malpractice and Liability Insurance:

This can be a convoluted area, especially if you travel with multiple agencies, can be specialty-specific, or if plan on doing volunteer work like medical missions or working as a camp nurse. However, ask your recruiter to find out if you’re covered. A great agency will ensure that they offer you protection and can explain what you may need to cover on your own. Plus, they can provide documentation should you need it if you plan on continuing your education into a nurse practitioner or CRNA program.

RN Support from Clinical Team:

Does your agency have registered nurses on staff? While speaking with a chaplain or mental health counselor is undoubtedly beneficial, sometimes it helps to talk to someone who has truly experienced the grief you’re experiencing. Whether it’s guidance or just a listening ear, you should have a team of people in your corner who can truly empathize with what you are experiencing.

Find Your Community

Travel buddies, Facebook communities, or even your recruiter, make sure you have someone in your corner you can speak to when coping with the tough stuff. This will help prevent burnout and keep you mentally healthy, which is crucial to providing top-notch care. Practicing self-care is always important, but so is advocating for yourself if an incident at work impacts your emotional and mental well-being.

If you are looking for more tips here are a few more great articles:

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