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Clinical Corner: Requirements for Tuberculosis Testing and Flu Vaccine

Requirements for Travel Nurse

So many requirements, so little time!

By Lalah Landers, BSN, RN, Clinical Nurse Manager at Medical Solutions

We often receive questions from Travelers wondering why each staffing firm and each hospital has different requirements for traveling healthcare professionals. Commonly, we hear questions such as:

“Why do I have to get another TB skin test or Quantiferon Gold?”

“Why do I need documentation of my flu vaccine?”

“Why do I have to take a PBDS or Behavioral test?” 

In a nutshell, every Travel Nurse company has different minimum protocols for their Travelers, and every hospital has different requirements for their staff. At Medical Solutions, we pride ourselves on being one of the most reputable staffing firms in the industry. While our minimum standards may be more extensive than other companies, we think it’s in the best interest of our Clients to get quality staff who are healthy, qualified, and have been thoroughly screened for any criminal history, substance abuse, or license action. It’s also beneficial from a Traveler perspective, because it helps make sure that are placed in a job that’s a good fit, and thus, is more likely to pan out positively for you.

This month, I’d like to discuss tuberculosis testing and the flu vaccine specifically.

“Another TB skin test?!”

With reference to questions about TB skin tests or Quantiferon Gold tests, both Medical Solutions and hospitals follow CDC guidelines when it comes to screening and treatment for tuberculosis. If you’ve had a past positive result, you will have to fill out a screening form annually, have a recent physical that is less than one year old, and also have a copy of your last CXR showing that you are free of any active tuberculosis.

If you have a positive TB skin test and this is the first positive test you’ve had, you will need a physical within 30 days of your start date, a new CXR, and a TB clearance form from your healthcare provider. Every positive gets reported to the local health department, and often you will have to visit the health department in your local area for clearance as well. So, please keep your CXR, skin test and Quantiferon Gold results handy so you can send them in with your other paperwork when starting an assignment!

“Why do I have to get a flu vaccine?”

Well, the answer is you don’t! But, if you choose not to, some hospitals won’t choose you! With the surge in numbers of annual flu cases in the U.S., most hospitals want to know that their healthcare providers have been vaccinated. If you aren’t vaccinated, then you may spread the flu virus to already ill patients. Some facilities take a firm stance on this — they will not allow you to work without proof of vaccination and make no exceptions. Other facilities will allow you to work, but you must wear a mask at all times while working. The choice is ultimately up to you whether or not to receive the flu vaccine. The reality though is that most hospitals won’t allow you to work in their facility without it. You are protecting your patients and most importantly yourself! Finally, please remember to keep documentation that you’ve received the flu vaccine on file, so that you can easily provide proof when necessary.

While the variance in requirements between companies and hospitals can be frustrating at times, we greatly appreciate our Travelers’ commitment to meeting all requirements and protecting the delivery of quality patient care. Thank you!

Click here if you want to learn more about Medical Solutions’ Traveler screening process.

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Sarah Wengert, a creative content writer for the amazing Medical Solutions based in Omaha, Nebraska. While I'm not a Travel Nurse, I love to travel and I truly appreciate the hard, important work that nurses do. I'm very happy to represent a company that cares so much about its people. Thanks for reading!