Travel Nursing Challenges: "Where Do I Find That Dr's Number?"

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By The Gypsy Nurse

March 17, 2014



Travel Nursing Challenges: “Where Do I Find That Dr’s Number?”

Travel Nursing Challenges

There are many travel nursing challenges; leaving new friends behind, negotiating contracts, finding housing, etc.  One of the most frustrating for me is figuring out which physician I’m supposed to call, who I can’t call, which Dr’s prefer to be text’ed, etc.

You would think that a hospital that frequently uses travelers would have some sort of quickie ‘cheat sheet’ for all of us newbies?  Not necessarily the case.  So how do you manage finding the appropriate number and method of physician contact?

The first couple of weeks on the floor can be nearly overwhelming…even for this experienced traveler.  Learning a new charting system, where to find the IV fluids or dressing supplies and simply getting through the first several shifts with everyone and everything still intact can be a major challenge in some facilities.  But then what happens when you need the Dr?  And…need him/her NOW?

One of the ways that I combat this ‘unknown’ is to ask during my floor orientation (which is usually only one day), and take vigorous notes.

These 3 questions should give you the basics to cover any immediate physician needs:

  1. What is the standard process of contacting a physician at this hospital? Page? Text? Phone?
  2. Which physicians are ‘excluded’ from the standard process and how do they prefer to be contacted?
  3. Is there a listing of the physicians and their numbers?  It’s a long-shot but sometimes you’ll get lucky!

Not knowing or not following the hospitals standard operating procedure in this matter can sometimes cause a development of bad relations between yourself and the physician.

Personally Speaking: 

At one hospital I recently worked at; the night shift Hospitalist had given strict ‘orders’ to NOT be notified via text, pager or phone.  We (the staff nurses) were told to write our requests down on a sheet of paper at the nurses station and he would address them during his rounds which were done at 9pm, 12am, 3am, and 6am. I personally thought that this was a totally crazy and potentially unsafe procedure.  I once dis-regarded his orders due to a patient experiencing a potential blood transfusion reaction (as per the standard protocol orders) and thoroughly got my @$$ chewed.  Being an experienced RN, this didn’t phase me much and if the situation arose again, I would have notified him again…regardless of the consequences.  This experience did leave me concerned about the ‘New’ nurse and how he/she might have handled this situation or a potentially more threatening situation: Call the Dr and reap the repercussions or put the concern on a note and hope the patient survives until the Dr rounds?

– Gypsy

What interesting standard operating procedures have you seen in how hospitals handle the ‘call’ situation for their physicians? Do you have an interesting story you would like to share involving contacting a physician? Advice on how you mange this challenge?

We would like to hear your story!  Leave your comment here.

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