Many thanks and congrats to the September 2015 Traveler of the Month, Kristi F., and also our Rising Star winner, Danielle D.!
Traveler of the Month Kristi has been in nursing for nearly five years, Travel Nursing for about a year and a half, and is currently on assignment in South Dakota. Shari D. is her Career Consultant.
“My background before traveling was as a float nurse. So, since I’ve been traveling I’ve done a variety of different assignments including med/surg, telemetry, stepdown, float pool, and oncology/transplant,” says Kristi. “I love that I don’t have a single specialty, so I can do and learn so much about so many things.”
Kristi’s favorite assignment so far was in Omaha, Nebraska.
“There is so much to do and see, and I got to watch College World Series,” she says. “It was just a great area and I loved the hospital! The staff was so incredibly nice, and I loved working on the tele/step down floor. It was the first time I had ever worked with post op open hearts, and it was incredible to see and learn all of that.”
In addition to loving her work, Kristi says she loves all of the possible experiences and new friends she gets as a Traveler.
“The best thing about traveling is that there’s always something different around the corner, and the possibilities are endless,” she says. “The amazing people that I’ve met along the way, and the things that I’ve learned have been great too!”
Kristi offers several great tips for new Travelers:
1. “Be as open, nice, and outgoing as possible at the very start of the assignment, regardless of how terrified you are. First impressions are pretty important, and if the staff likes you it can help prevent any bad assignments.”
2. “Talk, talk, talk to your recruiter. Be open, and let them know what you do or don’t want. Your recruiter can’t help you get the assignments you want and will thrive in if you don’t tell them what you want.”
3. “That being said, keep an open mind about assignments and be ready to show how skilled you are as a nurse. Also, realize that accepting constructive criticism makes you a better nurse. Realize that each hospital can do things differently; and when someone corrects your way to do things, it doesn’t mean that you don’t know how to do it, you just don’t know how to do it here. Listen, learn, and adapt. If you do that, great things will be ahead of you!”
Rising Star Danielle D., has her BSN, specializes in ER and is currently on her second assignment in Nashville, Tennessee. Bobby J. is her Career Consultant.
“I loved my first travel assignment in Indiana,” says Danielle. “I absolutely loved the staff and doctors along with the whole facility there!”
Danielle travels with what she calls her “gypsy family.”
“My best friend Tia, her husband Trevor, Derek and Michelle who are also both friends are currently on assignment with me in Nashville,” she says.
For Danielle, Travel Nursing is great for personal and professional reasons.
“The best thing about Travel Nursing is all the knowledge you gain by working at different facilities and locations. Also, the travel and adventure part of seeing cool things around the country is a highlight,” she says.
Any advice for new or aspiring Travel Nurses?
“For new Travelers, I would say to go for it,” says Danielle. “Find an awesome recruiter, a location you’d like to visit, and dive head first. You won’t regret it!”
Many thanks, kudos, and congrats again to the September 2015 Traveler of the Month and Rising Star — and thank you so much, Kristi and Danielle, for all of your hard work and dedication to delivering the best patient care!
Who will be the next Medical Solutions Traveler of the Month or Rising Star? Any Travelers whose hospital gives them a perfect evaluation are in the running for these two monthly awards — with Rising Star going to newer Travelers. Click here to find out what’s it’s all about and to discover how you could be the next winner of a $100 Visa gift card and, of course, bragging rights!
Travel Nurses give their all every day for patients nationwide, and, as this holiday season approaches, Medical Solutions would like to honor and thank nurses everywhere for all their hard work by supporting some of their favorite charitable efforts.
Throughout 2015 we’ve worked with charities that support kids with serious illnesses, nurses in need, and animals, and that provide clean water to improve health conditions worldwide, among many, many others. Whether through money donated or time volunteered, it’s important to the Medical Solutions family to give back to our community, country, and world whenever we can.
Now, we want you to let us say THANKS by GIVING to some of your favorite causes!
Please tell us: What nonprofit and/or charitable organization matters most to you — and why?
Your favorite cause could be small and local or big and international. It could be a place you’ve personally volunteered, or one that has helped you personally!
Just imagine, if you could help support any charity or nonprofit organization that makes the world a better place, who would it be? Got your answer? Great! Now be sure to submit your cause for consideration before November 30, 2015!
In December 2015 we’ll announce a very special surprise as a result of your submissions, and, in addition to some really great worthy organizations, there just might be a little something in it for some of those who submit their charity, too!
As Thanksgiving approaches, promising its annual bounty of good eats and gratitude, I want to share one more thing Travel Nurses can be thankful for!
Last summer we introduced a video series to help Travelers learn more about Travel Nursing — in a Jimute — with industry veteran and funnyman Jim Martin’s series of super-quick and helpful videos.
Learn more this month about pets & Travel Nursing — in a Jimute! Here’s Jim with some important info about traveling with your darling furry felines, cuddly canines, and other animal friends.
Jim’s right — you can absolutely bring pets with you on your Travel Nursing assignment! You will want to make sure that you’re working with a pet-friendly company in order to achieve this and to benefit from the extra help that a pet-friendly company provides.
Because we understand that an assignment just wouldn’t be the same without your beloved pets coming along on the journey, Medical Solutions has been pet friendly from the start. That means we work hard on your behalf to secure comfortable, pet-friendly housing, cover pet deposits for you upfront, provide info on pet training, share pet-related discounts that will help you save, and offer you any guidance that will help you succeed while traveling with your pets. Click here to learn more about Travel Nursing with pets. Just make sure to tell your Career Consultant that you will be traveling with your pet and they will help take care of getting it all set up!
Do you have a question for Jim to answer? If you do, or, if you’d just like to check out some of his other videos, click here to submit your very own Travel Nursing question and it shall be answered — in a Jimute!
By Chris Vinton, Medical Solutions Quality Assurance Specialist
One of the less exciting, yet most important parts of the nursing field is documentation. Documenting information properly is absolutely paramount to protecting you, your fellow nurses, the hospital, and your Travel Nursing company.
Having good documentation skills is essential to quality patient care, most importantly, because it protects your patients. Properly notating important information — such as medication administered or vital signs — will provide you with an overall picture of your patient’s health. Be sure to avoid general statements. Instead of writing “Administered 500 of saline” try writing “1100: Administered 500ml of normal saline using IV located at Median cubital vein.”
Granted, that entry is basically a novel when it comes to documentation terms and there are abbreviations. However, the second statement gave specific details and will give a much better view of the procedure or the patient’s health for you, the patient’s doctor and the nurse coming on shift after you! Even over-documenting small details that might seem meaningless could turn out to be significant and help uncover symptoms that may not have otherwise been caught.
In addition to patient protection, proper documentation protects you and your fellow staff! Even when the hospital staff does everything right, patients may not always respond to the care given. In which case, the patient’s hospital file and your documentation will go under a heavy amount of scrutiny. If things ever go really poorly, the patient’s medical record might be your first and only line of defense against a lawsuit.
Now, how to be thorough yet also brief? Each hospital does have approved abbreviations for medicine and many abbreviations are standardized across the industry. Be sure to check with your supervisor or preceptor and make sure you are using the correct abbreviation for the facility! You don’t want to be writing War and Peace every time you administer normal saline but at the same time, you do not want to under-document or incorrectly document treatment.
When going on a Travel Nursing assignment, be sure you are aware of what documentation system the hospital has. Some might have EMR and other hospitals might be old school and only use paper! Always be sure you make the time to document properly. As usual, documentation can’t be talked about without saying “If it wasn’t documented, it didn’t happen.” Always use good documentation to protect your patient and yourself!
Austin, Sally. “Stay out of Court with Proper Documentation: Nursing2015.” LWW. N.p., Apr. 2011. Web. 09 Nov. 2015.
Wang N., Hailey D. & Yu P. (2011) Quality of nursing documentation and approaches to its evaluation: a mixed-method systematic review. Journal of Advanced Nursing 67(9), 1858–1875.
Any family is lucky to be blessed by having a nurse in its ranks — even more so a family like the Mencks, who were blessed with two very special nurses: Medical Solutions Traveler Jessie Menck and her grandmother, WWII Cadet Nurse Dorothy Elizabeth “Betty” Menck.
Jessie has been a nurse for almost six years and has been traveling since February 2015. Her specialty is Maternal-Newborn Nursing.
She was on assignment in September 2015 when she let her Career Consultant Jessie K. know that her beloved Grandma Betty had just passed away.
“Betty was a WWII Cadet Nurse, part of a program that voluntarily recruited nurses with the slogan ‘A lifetime education in a proud profession with expenses paid’ and provided enough nurses for home and abroad that a nursing draft was avoided. She also later worked for the American Red Cross,” Jessie shared via email when Betty passed.
“She was so proud to see me become a nurse,” says Jessie. “When she first moved into assisted living, there were several of her nursing school classmates in the same building. I completed a one-year accelerated bachelor’s program at Creighton University and they were all amazed that I completed my education in a year and I would always tell them that I could not believe they had glass IV bottles and had to calculate drips by counting. I also would tell them that I was envious of the capes and caps they got to wear. There were even two of her classmates at her funeral service, they really had a tight knit group. She really was one of the most put-together people I ever knew — never a hair out of place and always offering to be the hostess or help others.”
Jessie vividly remembers the moment she knew she wanted to be a nurse.
“It was when I overheard a young pregnant lady I used to work with say that she ‘ate a can of peas for dinner.’ It never occurred to her that she should eat protein or change her diet while pregnant. I thought, if I could educate just one person, it would be worth it,” she says.
Jessie looked into the Army after graduation and thought about following in Betty’s footsteps, but it wasn’t quite the right fit and the military accepts very few nurses each year (they accepted just five the year Jessie graduated!). Nonetheless, she is in very proud of her grandmother’s story and is sure it’s a great experience for those who go that route.
In 2015, Jessie started Travel Nursing and says that has been a great fit for her. So far she’s worked one location, in Iowa, and has extended several times. She has a platform to go on adventures, but enjoys still being close enough to home to visit often.
“I like the feeling of freedom,” she says. “Back [home] it felt like that scene in Groundhog Day when he wakes up to the same song on the radio every day. Not only am I doing something new, I am also in a new place and getting to explore on my days off. I’ve had so many great trips for fun since I hit the road. My favorite fun trip was to Mackinaw Island.”
Thanks to all nurses, like Jessie and Betty, for the amazing work you do. We wish Jessie and her family the best as they heal from the loss of such an amazing woman.
And on this Veterans Day 2015, Medical Solutions extends an extra special THANK YOU to all of the awesome military nurses out there! We are in awe of you and forever grateful for your service.
Sure, Medical Solutions LOVES nurses, but we also ADORE all of the hardworking Allied Health Professionals out there making a positive impact in healthcare.
So, we wish you all a Happy 2015 Allied Health Professionals Week!
We also invite you to visit MedicalSolutions.com/AlliedWeek and tell us your title and your favorite part of your job.
Anyone can participate, but Allied Health Professionals who share their story on the page will be entered into a drawing to win one of five $100 Amazon gift cards!
We look forward to hearing your story, and thanks so much for all of your hard work!
Have you ever worked in a haunted hospital or creepy clinic?
Of course, nurses see all kinds of scary things each day on the job, but, in the spirit of the Halloween season, we specifically want to hear your supernatural tales, eerie encounters, and other creepy chronicles in nursing.
Maybe your unit went a little Twilight Zone, a ghost gave you goosebumps, or you spied a spook? Whatever the yarn may be, we want to hear YOUR scariest nursing story!
To enter the Scary Nursing Stories Contest, simply share your story in 250 words or less on this Facebook thread or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, now through November 1st, for the chance to win one of three $50 Amazon gift cards.
Happy haunting, nurses!
There are many ways to go about recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month each October. Some dress in pink, donate to breast cancer-fighting organizations, or do their first breast self-exam. Others may share important statistics, like the fact* that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, or that it’s the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and also the second leading cause of death among them.
For the Medical Solutions family — like so many others — the fight against breast cancer is personal, so we’d like to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month by sharing the story of our very own Amber Barna, BSN, RN, Clinical Director of Nursing at Medical Solutions, and brave breast cancer survivor.
Amber leads an amazing in-house clinical and quality team that acts as a constant resource for our Travelers. She also brings tons of sunshine and fun into our daily lives, and for that we love her tremendously.
Amber was kind enough to share her story — one nurse’s brave fight against breast cancer — in the Q&A below. Thanks so much, Amber, for sharing your story! You are an inspiration to us all.
When and how were you diagnosed with breast cancer?
In September 2009, after my doctor found a lump when I went in for a regular annual exam, I was sent in for an ultrasound. When the radiologist came walking into the room, I knew it probably wasn’t good. He told me that the lump was suspicious for cancer, but advised me to have a mammogram done. With that, I was set up for a mammogram and that radiologist noted a biopsy would be a possible next step. From there, I met with a general surgeon and had a surgical biopsy on a Friday then got a call that Monday that is was Ductal Invasive Carcinoma Breast Cancer. I was lucky because this is a common type of breast cancer.
I was a stage 2 they thought initially, but then there was micro-metastasis in my lymph node which pushed me to be an early stage 3. I had triple positive breast cancer, so I had to do 16 rounds of chemo to cover the breast cancer and metastasis to my lymph node. I also had to complete a year of an IV medication called Herceptin which combatted an aggressive trait of my breast cancer. Lastly, I am on 10 years of Tamoxifen which is an oral medication to better help me with reduction of reoccurrence.
Can you take us through your fight against breast cancer? How long was the process, what were some highs and lows, when did you know you were in remission and how did that feel?
For me, the biggest low was the day I was diagnosed, that night, and into the next day. I had no idea truly of what I was dealing with and the unknown was killing me. Once I found out the specifics after meeting with several doctors, that is where my fight or flight kicked in and I decided it was game on from there.
I had a bilateral mastectomy with lymph node dissection, port-a-cath placement and tissue expenders placed. This was pretty rough because I was sick for a few days after the anesthesia and not able to go home right away. Having two little boys at home, this was the most difficult piece. Also, once I went home, I couldn’t hold my boys and I had drains which the baby would try to pull at, so that was rough.
About a month after surgery, I started my chemotherapy. With chemotherapy came hot flashes. I was only 30 years old, so this was pretty rough as I have never been so hot in my life. I went through 16 rounds of chemo. The first 4 rounds were every other week, then 12 weekly treatments. I started the Herceptin during the last 12 treatments, so once I was done with chemotherapy I had about 10 more months of the Herceptin to complete via my port-a-cath. During some of the chemotherapy treatments, I would have to take shots in my abdomen to help stimulate blood cell production that was falling due to the chemotherapy. My husband learned how to administer this for me because even though I was a nurse and can help others, I could not get myself to actually give the injections.
During the chemo, I would go to my plastic surgeon who would inflate the tissue expanders every couple of weeks to stretch the skin and ready my chest area for the breast implants. I learned very early on not to eat prior to chemo, and after chemo to only eat somewhere that I wouldn’t mind if it made me sick and repulsed me after. This way I didn’t ruin any of my favorite dining spots.
Once I finished chemotherapy and my blood counts were normalized, I then had surgery to remove the tissue expanders and replace them with breast implants. The good part was it was an outpatient surgery, but this again meant I couldn’t hold my boys, so that was the hardest part of this. A couple more outpatient surgeries followed to put the final touches on the newly constructed breasts. In the upcoming year or so after this, I had a total hysterectomy which was not too bad at all and I only missed a couple days of work so that was good. After some time, I ended up having an implant rupture, so I had to have surgery again to remove the old implants and place new ones. That was pretty rough, but at least I got to go home the same day. During this entire time, I felt pretty good. I would get nausea/vomiting from the chemotherapy and surgeries, but I missed very minimal work time and the days of chemo I had a ton of energy because they would give me steroids before the chemo to decrease the reaction to the chemo.
I am in remission now, and I just recently at five years out got moved to only annual oncologist follow-up appointments. I was told at that appointment that my risk of reoccurrence was the same as the general population — which is awesome! I am “normal” again. I continue taking my Tamoxifen orally daily and have a little under five years left of this medication, but it isn’t too bad.
What gave you the strength to fight this disease?
Truly, my family, my kids, my friends and my work family. I had to fight because I couldn’t let them down. I was not going to let them down by letting this disease beat me. It wasn’t an option. I had a 4-year-old and 9-month-old when diagnosed and my brother had recently passed away, so I couldn’t leave my family or cause them more pain.
Do you believe that the process of being diagnosed and fighting breast cancer was any different for you as a nurse — with your clinical knowledge — than it might have been for a non-clinical person? If so, how?
Yes, I feel like I was more aware of what was going on and what I needed to watch for. At times, I think it almost made it worse because I knew too much of what to expect. They say ignorance can be bliss, and I truly believe that in this case. I also was not the best patient as I overdid it a lot. I much rather prefer being on the side of providing the care and helping others rather than needing help. That is just how I am wired, but I am truly so thankful for the amazing doctors and nurses who saved my life.
What did you learn about life from this experience?
Life is short. Don’t take it for granted. Just be happy.
As a nurse and as a survivor, what advice do you have for someone recently diagnosed and/or fighting breast cancer?
Attitude is everything! Stay positive and there is always a positive to EVERY situation. There are others who are stage 4 and who would love to have the opportunity to be going through treatment for cancer, so count your blessings and appreciate the opportunity to fight. Also, ask questions — lots of questions!
*Source: National Breast Cancer Foundation
By Chris Vinton, Medical Solutions Quality Assurance Specialist
While “waste” isn’t always a good word to hear in the nursing field, it is when it comes to narcotics. The proper disposal and documentation of narcotics is very important when dealing with controlled substances. When disposing of excess narcotics, always be sure you have a witness and are properly documenting the amount wasted.
First and foremost, check with your manager to see if there are any specific hospital policies regarding wasting narcotics, because hospital policies on the way narcotics can be wasted do vary. Some hospitals require a witness at every step of giving and disposing of a narcotic. Other hospitals have electronic systems in place to ensure the proper amount is drawn and given to the patient. Most hospitals state that narcotics should be disposed of in secure containers, such as a sharps container. Others allow narcotics to be wasted down a sink or even flushed down a toilet. A few hospitals in Australia require nurses to cover their teeth in silver food spray and yell “WITNESS ME!” before wasting narcotics.***
Excess narcotics should be wasted immediately. Keeping narcotics in unsecured locations increases the risk of them being lost or stolen and creating major issues in documentation. It is very important to have another nurse as a witness to the wasting of narcotics. You should never, under any circumstances, waste narcotics alone and should always have someone else sign off as a witness. On the other hand, you should never sign off as a witness for someone else if you didn’t watch the narcotics being properly wasted — doing so could implicate you as an accessory.
Wasting narcotics according to hospital protocol is especially critical for Travel Nurses. Trust is very important in the nursing field and building trust as a Traveler is essential to your success while on assignment. Properly wasting narcotics is an easy way to build trust and show to the hospital and your colleagues that you are trustworthy and 100% professional.
***This sentence is probably not true, but who doesn’t love a solid Mad Max reference?!
The Medical Solutions team created Travel Nurses Day in 2013 as one more way to honor all of the amazing Travelers out there. Once again this year, we had an awesome time celebrating the holiday with you leading up to Travel Nurses Day, October 9, 2015.
One of this year’s contests was the “Signs You’re A Travel Nurse” Instagram contest, and let me just say, many of you and your fellow Travel Nurses totally brought it! There were so many great pics posted on the Instagram hashtag (click here to see them all) showing off the fun and adventures Travelers have while on assignment. Whether it was a literal sign from your travels or a more figurative sign like being on the beach or inside of a glacier (for real; see below!), we want to extend a big thanks to you for sharing your awesome pics. It may sound corny, but you’re all winners to us!
Click here and scroll down to see the names of all the winners from this year’s Travel Nurses Day contests, but in the meantime, check out some of our champs and faves from the “Signs You’re A Travel Nurse” Instagram contest.