This article is sponsored by Travel Nurse Across America®
Questions come up frequently about working in facilities undergoing EMR conversions. The usual, “What’s it like? Is it hard? What do they want you to do? I’ve work two EPIC conversions so far and am willing to do it again.
Both have been great experiences. I have also been involved in EMR conversions as a staff person several times too. My experience has been that the facility is bringing in traveling nurses to allow staff off the unit to do the intensive classroom training. I have been included in this classroom portion on one assignment (I learned EPIC right along with the staff) and not so on the other. To be fair, I declined on the second assignment since I knew EPIC already and was comfortable with what they were planning on teaching in the class.
In a conversion situation, the facility may not be bringing in additional nurses due to short staffing, although it has been part of the reason in my experience, so the work load is more manageable. Conversion to a new EMR also can mean work flow/process changes on the unit and I have been asked for input in process change, specifically because I was a traveler and have seen how “other places do it”. As a traveler, you are in a unique position to add input to a situation as an outside observer. Be cautious though, how you present your ideas for change.
Make certain you are not coming off judgmental about their crazy, multi-step system! Many times, you are working with staff who have never had the opportunity to work in other places and people cling to what they know because change is scary. So, keep this in mind. As travel nurses, we all expect change everywhere we go and have learned to adapt to this, and most of us like the challenge of the change, but this is not true for so many nurses at the facilities you are going to. Changing everything for them is like walking into a new job and some staff doesn’t handle it the best. Be open and patient with the staff and smile, because you get to leave in 13 weeks.
The “Go Live” date can be chaotic and tension can run high because everything the staff has ever known is now gone, throughout the whole house! Your lab orders are not getting released the way they always have, the new printers are screwing up, you’re scanning fluids and items you never scanned before, it can be crazy. The “old school group” and the “newbies” are now on an even playing field learning new things. My experience with EPIC conversions has been a good influx of IT people are on the units to help staff work through the roadblocks for several weeks, with hotlines available to call when you get into a jam. Many times, daily huddles at the end of shifts took place the first few weeks for discussion of “what worked, what didn’t and how do we fix it?” It seems, in my opinion, to take about 4-6 weeks after the conversion for the daily routine to really settle and be routine again. There are still the unusual, infrequent tasks that must be worked out in the system sometimes.
Because of the stress to the staff during this time of conversion, the hospital plans lots of activities for staff as stress relievers and just fun. Everything from Unit T-Shirts, free meals on conversion weekends, snack carts throughout the unit, upper management gets more involved and is more visible to the staff. These are all good things. One assignment had a room with massage chairs for the nurses and they made sure that all staff got to participate in that! The facilities use this time as a team building experience, as they should, because everyone must work together to get through the initial days of the conversion.
Overall, if you are comfortable with learning new computer systems frequently, and enjoy the challenge of helping people streamline processes, take an EMR conversion assignment. You don’t always have to know the new system to get the job, they can train you just like the staff. It’s something a little different from the ordinary and it can only help in future interviews for assignments to be able to say, “I’ve participated in X number of conversions” if you like the work. It’s a great resume builder.