Author Archive for Elena Barker

Elena Barker is a professional writer for Medical Solutions, one of the nation's largest travel nurse staffing companies. Elena specializes in writing about the healthcare staffing industry.

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Top Five Workforce Challenges Facing Healthcare Leaders

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Feeling frazzled? Overloaded by administrative paperwork? You’re not alone. In this era of clinician shortages and healthcare reform, healthcare leaders across the nation are all trying to do more with less. Here’s an overview of the top workforce challenges facing healthcare leaders in today’s ever-evolving landscape:

Rising costs:

Labor costs account for more than half of all hospital expenses, and they are expected to grow. In fact, 78% of healthcare executives predict their labor costs will increase in the next 12 months, according to a 2018 Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) and Navigant survey. Consequently, healthcare leaders must determine how to control labor costs while also continuing to maintain or improve the quality of patient care.

Shortage of qualified candidates:

Experienced clinicians can be hard to find. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. will need 2.3 million new healthcare workers to help care for a rapidly aging population by 2025. However, due to a persistent shortage of skilled clinicians, hundreds of thousands of these positions will remain unfilled. The shortage is particularly acute in the nursing workforce. The American Nursing Association predicts that 700,000 nurses will leave or retire from the workforce by 2024. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough new nurse graduates to replenish the workforce. A recent American Association of Colleges of Nursing report discovered that more than 56,000 qualified applicants were turned away in 2017 due to a limited supply of nurse educators.

Retention:

Even when healthcare leaders find and hire the right person for the job, it can be difficult to keep them. Nurse turnover is on the rise, and research shows that staffing challenges are partially to blame. The turnover issue comes with a hefty price tag for hospitals already facing financial pressure. A recent study in the Journal of Nursing Administration found that it may cost anywhere from $97,216 to $104,440 to replace a nurse.

Regulatory requirements:

Managing strict guidelines for compliance can be a bit of a juggling act for many healthcare leaders. That’s because there’s a mountain of paperwork needed to ensure each contingent clinician is properly credentialed and has a clean background. Failure to comply with these requirements could result in poor patient care outcomes, fines, or even lawsuits.

Efficiency:

Meanwhile, most healthcare organizations rely on several staffing agencies to fill their open positions. However, this arrangement can become problematic if each agency has different protocols, bill rates, and procedures for invoicing, payroll, and credentialing. When that happens, healthcare leaders can turn to a managed service provider or MSP to help streamline various contingent workforce processes.

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3 Healthcare Candidate Screening Best Practices

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Finding the right healthcare professional takes time. Teaming up with a healthcare staffing partner can help shorten your time-to-hire without sacrificing quality.

It’s no secret that great patient care starts with excellent healthcare professionals. That’s why a thorough employment screening process is essential to your facility’s hiring success. Consider the following best practices in healthcare employment screening:

Verify employment history and credentials: Performing a background check on each healthcare candidate is a standard step in the hiring process. After all, hiring decisions in both the acute and post-acute care sector can have serious consequences. For example, a healthcare candidate who provides false credentials or has a past negative employment event can risk the safety of your staff and patients, damage your organization’s reputation, and expose your facility to legal complications. For this very reason, many healthcare employers consult with a third party, such as a staffing agency, to help them avoid such hiring mistakes. In fact, most healthcare staffing agencies run background checks on their contingent clinicians before sending a candidate’s profile for consideration. However, not all staffing agencies follow the same screening protocols. So, before you partner with a healthcare staffing agency, find out what their screening process entails.

Maintain compliance: Healthcare organizations must also navigate the maze of healthcare compliance management. Failure to comply with state and federal regulations can result in hefty legal fees and fines. That why it’s a good idea to partner with a staffing company that can conduct initial and ongoing compliance checks for your facility.

Keep the candidate experience in mind: If an HR professional at your facility is manually verifying a candidate’s job history, educational background, professional credentials, while also reviewing several state and federal regulations, it can take weeks to clear an individual for hire. In that time, the healthcare candidate could potentially find and accept a job from a competitor. With today’s tight labor market, the healthcare organization with the most efficient hiring process wins the best and brightest candidates. Fortunately, a healthcare staffing agency can help accelerate your time-to-fill rate by taking on these administrative duties for you.  

Did you know that Medical Solutions provides healthcare facilities and organizations with a comprehensive employment screening process? Contact us today to learn more!   

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Top Tips for Hiring in Long-term Care

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Say hello to experienced candidates with these helpful hiring practices.

Thanks to the nationwide nursing shortage, it takes substantial time and effort to find, recruit, and hire the ideal healthcare professional, especially in the post-acute care sector. With that in mind, our team at Medical Solutions would like to offer the following advice for hiring in this special niche.

Interview with cultural fit in mind: It’s no secret that providing long-term care requires a certain temperament and skill set. These clinicians mostly care for an elderly population, so that means the job calls for individuals who are familiar with end of life care, have the ability to handle grief and loss, and can manage the job’s often demanding physical needs. To address this, you should have an extensive behavioral interview process that goes through certain scenarios. Additionally, it’s a good idea to ask the same questions multiple times throughout the interview to gauge how well they can handle repetition. Clearly, if the interviewee becomes easily frustrated answering the same questions, he or she might not be the right fit. After all, the individual may easily have to repeat instructions to an Alzheimer’s patient.

Set up a recruitment pipeline: Partner with a university or nursing school that can help you find and educate students and new grads on the benefits of working in the senior care space. If a local nursing school partnership isn’t an option, you can also enlist the services of a staffing agency. For example, Medical Solutions has recruiting experts on board who can help you quickly find the post-acute clinicians you need.

Don’t forget about employer branding and the candidate experience: In today’s digital world, it’s no longer enough to simply post a job and let the applications roll in. You need to find out what sets your healthcare organization apart and advertise that in the right spaces. For example, social media ads are one such way to attract and direct job seekers to your healthcare organization’s website. Then, make sure these candidates can easily and quickly apply for your open positions. If your online application process is too difficult, they’ll stop half-way through and leave your site.

Did we miss any other pro tips for hiring in long-term care? Let us know what works for you and your healthcare organization in the comments below!  

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4 Habits of a Successful Interim Nurse Leader

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Interim nurse leaders must act quickly and decisively, boost confidence among staff, and plan purposefully.

Your long-term care facility needs an interim nurse leader. Now what? As you begin your search, you should know that an interim nurse leader is not the same as a permanent nurse leader, even though they’ll have similar skills. An interim nurse leader must act quickly and decisively, boost confidence among staff, and plan purposefully. When they do, the permanent nurse leader can seamlessly step in with a strategy already in place. With that in mind, you should consider the following four habits all successful interim nurse leaders have in common:

Builds relationships: Whether permanent or temporary, great leaders know that connecting with people is at the heart of what they do. When you start looking for an interim nurse leader, keep in mind you need someone with great people skills. A temporary leader must be able to bring people together and move forward in times of uncertainty.

Understands context: A successful temporary nurse leader must also understand the nature of their role. Sometimes, an interim position can mean “hold-down-the-fort-until-we-find-the-right-person” while other times, the temporary role could become permanent. Either way, an interim leader must be able to read between the lines and adopt the right attitude for the job.   

Thinks strategically: Interim nurse leaders have the opportunity to improve an organization’s overall productivity, but they must be strategic. An experienced interim leader knows which changes need to happen today and which ones can wait. After all, it’s part of his or her job to establish short-term goals for the team and recommend a long-term strategy for the future, permanent nurse leader.

Acts decisively: Since their roles are only temporary, skilled interim nurse leaders must hit the ground running. And that’s because nothing stops productivity in its tracks like indecisiveness. A successful interim nurse leader will make decisions as if the job were already theirs, and then explain the rationale behind those decisions to their staff. In the process, they’ll bring stability to the team during a transitional time.

Are you looking for an interim nurse leader? Medical Solutions helps post-acute care facilities fill leadership vacancies with the right interim leaders. Contact us today to learn more!

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Four Practical Tips For Hiring Seasonal Healthcare Staff

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Flu season is upon us. For many healthcare leaders, this time of year can be unpredictable — patient volume can soar at a moment’s notice, and some of your perm staff may unexpectedly become sick. And while last year’s flu season was moderate in its severity, it lasted for a recording-breaking 21 weeks, according to the CDC.

To prepare for this year’s flu season, you’ll want to make strategic use of Travel Nurses and other temporary healthcare professionals. On that note, you should consider the following four practical tips for hiring seasonal healthcare staff:

Plan ahead: A last-minute approach to healthcare staffing can leave you short-staffed during the busiest time of the year, and that can be a costly mistake. To avoid these pitfalls, you should create your staffing strategy well ahead of the peak flu season. We recommend you start looking for temporary help in late September or early October. Hiring early also gives your temporary staff enough time to learn the ropes at your facility.

Team up with a staffing partner: A staffing firm, like Medical Solutions, can save you valuable time and resources by working on your behalf to pre-screen, interview, and recommend qualified candidates for your open positions. With their team of experts, you’ll be able to find the right healthcare professional who fits your organization’s culture. And when next year’s flu season rolls around, that same staffing partner can help you forecast your facility’s staffing needs using last year’s data.

Remember the candidate experience: Just like with permanent employees, competition is fierce when it comes to securing the best contingent clinical talent. If you make your candidates jump through hoops or complete several rounds of interviews, they’ll go elsewhere. A staffing partner can keep your hiring process short while simultaneously maintaining your high standards during a busy time.

Set expectations: This might seem obvious, but the Traveler should know how long the assignment will be. If there’s a chance for the temporary position to become a perm one, you should also let the candidate know ahead of time. Sometimes, a healthcare professional is merely traveling to test the waters at different facilities. If they know this temporary gig could become permanent, they might be more interested in applying in the first place.

For more information about how you can help prepare your facility for this year’s upcoming flu season, please contact Medical Solutions.

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State Spotlight: Wyoming

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Go West, Travel Nurses! The Grand Teton Mountains are calling you.

This month’s State Spotlight takes us to wonderful Wyoming. The Equality State is perhaps best known for its natural beauty. Those stunning landscapes provide the perfect setting for Travel Nurses to expand their personal and professional horizons. Read on to learn why you should consider Wyoming for your next Travel Nursing assignment!

Travel Nursing in Wyoming:

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There are approximately 31 hospitals in Wyoming, with several ranking high on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Regional Hospitals list. According to the publication, the top three hospitals in Wyoming are Aspen Mountain Medical Center in Rock Springs, Campbell County Health in Gillette, and Cheyenne Regional Medical Center in Cheyenne. According to Livibility.com, Wyoming’s hospitals employ nearly 9,000 people and contribute more than $45 million to the state’s economy.

In terms of licensing, Wyoming is both a compact state and a NURSYS state. However, it is not a walk-through state. To learn more about the Equality State’s licensure requirements, you can click here.

Wyoming Fast Facts:

State Nickname: The Equality State

Capital: Cheyenne

Largest City: Cheyenne

National Parks: 7

State Parks: 12

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Wyoming’s cowboy culture lives on in annual events, like the rodeo.

State Motto: “Equal Rights.”

State Flower: Wyoming Indian paintbrush

State Tree: Plains cottonwood

State Bird: Western meadowlark

State Rock: Nephrite jade

Congress declared Wyoming the 44th state on July 10, 1890.

Wyoming’s nickname stems from the fact that it was the first state to give women the right to vote and the first to elect a female governor.

The state is the 10th largest by area and the least populous.

Wyoming’s official state sport is the rodeo.

Famous people from or with Wyoming connections include Former Vice President Dick Cheney, actor Harrison Ford, actor Matthew Fox, author Patricia MacLachlan, writer E. Annie Proulx, singer/songwriter Scott Avett, and country music singer Chris LaDoux.

To Do & See in Wyoming

Thanks in large part to the state’s seven national parks, millions of tourists discover Wyoming’s charms every year. Yellowstone National Park, arguably the state’s most popular attraction, is home to the iconic geyser Old Faithful and the largest hot spring in the U.S. Yellowstone is also a hotspot for wildlife. If you’re lucky, you can catch a glimpse of bison, elk, eagles, wolves, or even grizzly bears in Lamar Valley, located near the park’s northeast entrance.

Close to Yellowstone is the Grand Teton National Park, which includes the Teton mountain range, the Grand Teton peak, and the valley known as Jackson Hole. From mountain-climbing, hiking, and camping, to fly-fishing, kayaking, and sightseeing, it’s no wonder the Grand Teton National Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The best time to visit is from mid-May to late September, according to the U.S. News Travel Guide. However, the winter months can be just as fun — you can hit the slopes here at several skiing resorts or soak your cares away in the nearby Granite Hot Springs. 

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Sunset at Devil’s Tower in Wyoming is a sight to behold!

Devils Tower National Park should also be on your must-see list during your Wyoming assignment. Considered sacred to many Northern Plains Tribes, the Devils Tower is a rock formation that rises 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. President Theodore Roosevelt declared this geological wonder the first national monument in 1906. In the summer, you can set up camp for a night or two within the park grounds, take a hike, or even climb the impressive Devils Tower. Plus, if you visit during the first full week of August, you’ll be able to experience the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally up close — Devils Tower is one of the stops on this famous motorcycle journey.

If you want a taste of the real Wild West, Wyoming is the place to be. Prime rib, country fried steak, and trout are all on the menu here year-round. Soda bread (a pioneer-days staple), Wyomatoes (a deliciously sweet tomato), Rocky Mountain oysters, and morels are also high on the list of fun treats for visitors and locals alike. After tasting these wonderful Wyoming specialties, you can wash it all down with an old-fashioned soda or a Boiler Maker, which is a beer chased with a shot of Wyoming Whiskey.

Ready for your adventure to incredible Wyoming?! Search jobs now to find your dream Travel Nurse job in Wyoming! Or, search all jobs here.

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State Spotlight: Alaska

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The Last Frontier State offers memorable experiences and beautiful views, like this one near the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska.

This month’s State Spotlight takes us to amazing Alaska! The largest U.S. state by area happily embraces its outdoorsy vibe, the arts, and a fresh take on local good eats. Read on to discover the adventures and culture that await you in The Last Frontier State.  

Travel Nursing in Alaska:

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Alaska is home to approximately 27 hospitals, 24 of these provide general acute care and just three provide specialized care. According to the U.S. News & World Report, the top three overall best hospitals in Alaska are Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska Regional Hospital also in Anchorage, and Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau. Alaska also ranked #25 in healthcare and #18 in opportunity in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 Best States List. Not surprisingly, oil, gas, fishing, and tourism are the bedrock of Alaska’s economy.

When it comes to licensing, Alaska is a NURSYS state, but it is not a compact state. You can learn more about Alaska’s licensure process here.

Alaska Fast Facts:

State Nickname: The Last Frontier

Capital: Juneau

Largest City: Anchorage

National Parks: 8

State Parks: 120

State Motto: “North to the Future.”

State Flower: Forget-me-not

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Denali is a Koyukon word that means “High One.”

State Tree: Sitka spruce

State Bird: Alaska Willow Ptarmigan

State Rock: Jade

Alaska was the 49th state.

Of the 20 highest peaks in the United States, 17 are in Alaska.

Denali, the highest peak in North America, is 20,320 feet above sea level. 

Alaska has 6,640 miles of coastline and, including islands, has 33,904 miles of shoreline.

Alaska has more land area than Texas, California & Montana combined.

Alaska is less than 50 miles from Russia.

More than half the world’s glaciers can be found in Alaska.

It is illegal to whisper in someone’s ear while they are moose hunting in Alaska.

Giant vegetables are common in Alaska due to the extremely long days in summer. Alaska has grown a record cabbage weighing in at 94 pounds.

The nation’s two largest forests are located in Alaska. The Tongass in Southeast includes 16.8 million acres and Chugach in Southcentral has 4.8 million acres.

There is no sales tax in Alaska.

Famous people from Alaska include, singer/songwriter Jewel, actor James Morrison, actress Irene Bedard, (the voice of Disney’s Pocahontas) former governor Sarah Palin, four-time winner of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Susan Butcher, baseball pitcher Curt Schilling, alpine skier and Olympic medalist Tommy Moe, and basketball player Carlos Boozer.

To Do & See in Alaska:

To live in Alaska is to be surrounded by natural beauty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In fact, the state shines in the summer and dazzles in the winter. From cross-country skiing to dog-sledding, it’s almost impossible not to enjoy all the outdoor activities Alaska has to offer.

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Dall sheep call Denali home.

For example, Denali National Park and Preserve is a great place to jumpstart your Alaska experience. Open from mid-May to mid-September, the park covers more than 6 million acres of land and is home to North America’s tallest peak, Denali. If mountain climbing sounds a bit daunting, you can backpack through the tundra, take a bike or bus ride down the Denali Park Road, check out a few glaciers, and even search for wildlife in the summer. If you’re lucky, you might see Denali’s famous Dall sheep or a herd of caribou. Wildlife sightings aren’t guaranteed, but you can still soak up all the scenic sights that make this park incredible!

While many people who visit Alaska come for the outdoor adventures, there’s also plenty to see and do in the state’s major cities, Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks. As the largest city in the state, Anchorage knows how to throw a good party and there’s always something social going on. If you’re there in the summertime, you simply must attend Anchorage’s Summer Solstice Festival and discover what a midnight sun looks like — Hint: It’s pretty fabulous! If you miss out on the Summer Solstice, don’t worry! There’s a chance you could catch a glimpse of the gorgeous green glow of the Northern Lights instead. Plus, Anchorage hosts the start of the famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on the first Saturday of March each year.

Fairbanks, the second-largest city in Alaska, offers plenty in terms of art and culture. You can visit the Fountainhead Auto Museum, where 85 antique cars are on display, as well as the Museum of The North, which is home to a 2,000-year spectrum of Alaskan art, the state’s largest display of gold, and Blue Babe, a 50,000-year-old mummified steppe bison.

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Kayak around misty Mendenhall Lake near Juneau, Alaska.

Meanwhile, Alaska’s capital city, Juneau, is a high treat for visitors. Take a boat tour around the coast for a chance to see a pod of whales and view the awe-inspiring Mendenhall Glacier up close. There’s also the Glacier Gardens Rainforest — didn’t know Alaska had a rainforest? — well, guess again! Plus, Alaskan Brewery and Bottling Company is a must-visit attraction, where you can take a seat in their cozy tasting room and sip on smoked porter and other award-winning craft brews.

If all that sightseeing and outdoor activity have you feeling hungry, then you’re in luck! In recent years, Alaska has earned a surprising reputation as a foodie destination. In fact, eating local isn’t just a fad—it’s a way of life here. And if you’re envisioning “Deadliest Catch,” think again. Thanks to some of Alaska’s creative chefs, fresh salmon burgers with chipotle blueberry sauce, spruce tips ice cream, and reindeer pate are now all a part of Alaska’s delicious food scene.

Ready for your adventure to incredible Alaska?! Search jobs now to find your dream Travel Nurse job in Alaska! Or, search all jobs here.

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Congrats to May 2019’s Traveler of the Month and Rising Star

Many thanks and congrats to the May 2019 Traveler of the Month, Ariane T. and also our Rising Star winner, Cheryll C.!

Ariane is an ICU RN with roughly 8 years of experience. She’s been traveling for almost a year now and she works with Career Consultant Katie Dick. She is currently on assignment in Boston, Massachusetts.  

Ariane loves that Traveling Nursing allows her to discover new places, meet new people, and try new food. With these benchmarks in mind, Boston has surpassed her expectations in every way.

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2019”s May Traveler of the Month is Ariane T.! Congratulations and thanks for all your hard work!

“I like to explore a new city by trying out the cuisine,” says Ariane. “Boston’s been wonderful—there’s so much to see and I’ve made some great friends!”

Her advice for first-time Travelers is simple and direct.

“Be open to new ideas and opportunities,” recommends Ariane. “And just remember, if it’s not the best assignment, it’s only 13 weeks!”

Thank you for your wise words and your dedication to patient care, Ariane! 

Meanwhile, Cheryll C., our Rising Star of the Month, is an RN, BSN and a case manager. Now on assignment in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Cheryll enjoys working with her Career Consultant Trista Farrens. She’s been a nurse for more than 25 years and has just recently dipped her toes into Travel Nursing. Here’s what her supervisor at her last assignment had to say about Cheryll:

“Cheryll has been amazing,” her boss wrote in a performance review. “She only needed a few days orientation and then was able to jump right in and carry a full caseload. Her work is excellent — we have received multiple compliments on her work and professionalism from staff, including the director of the hospitalist program.”

Trista, Cheryll’s recruiter, couldn’t agree more.

“Cheryll’s attention to detail, her patient advocacy, as well as her communication skills, make her a stand-out Traveler for Medical Solutions!” says Trista.

Thanks so much for all of your hard work and commitment to great patient care, Cheryll!

Could you be the next Medical Solutions Traveler of the Month or Rising Star? Travelers who receive a perfect hospital evaluation are eligible to win these monthly awards — with Rising Star going to newer Medical Solutions Travelers. Click here to learn more and to see if you could be the next winner of a $100 Visa or Amazon gift card as recognition for a job well done!

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5 Traits All Travel Nurses in Long-Term Care Share

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Providing care in the senior care space can be a rewarding career.

Do you have what it takes to be in long-term care? As most post-acute RNs and LPNs know, providing long-term care isn’t for everyone. It requires a certain skill set and temperament to be successful. Consider the following 5 traits all Travel Nurses in long-term care share:

Patience:

Most long-term care patients are seniors. The care they need depends on their situation—they could be recovering from a stroke, an injury, or suffering from Alzheimer’s. Whatever their situation, you should remember that your patient may require more time to move around or process a conversation. That’s why great long-term care RNs and LPNs recognize the need for patience when caring for others.

Empathy:

Someone once said: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It’s a good idea to keep these words in mind as you care for your post-acute patients. Ask yourself how you would want to be treated if you were in your patient’s shoes, and then act accordingly. And while many long-term care providers enjoy deep, meaningful relationships with their patients, you’ll need to manage the emotional stress that sometimes comes with this job. By its very nature, end-of-life care is different than acute care.

Strength:

While it’s no secret that nursing is hard work, this is especially true in the long-term care setting. You’ll need the physical stamina to occasionally lift patients or to assist them with various daily activities. Then again, you or your patient may have a bad day. When that happens, take a deep breath and draw from your inner, mental strength to help you carry on.

Dependability:

When someone needs long-term care, they’ve lost a bit of their independence. This loss of independence can be difficult to deal with, so keep that in mind as you care for your patient. After all, he or she depends on you to help them live life with dignity and respect.   

Flexibility:

In the world of post-acute care, situations can change in the blink of an eye. For example, your patient who was on the mend may suddenly fall ill. As such, the ability to be flexible is key. The most successful long-term care providers can remain flexible and easily embrace change.

Medical Solutions now offers long-term care job opportunities for both RNs and LPNs. If you are interested in applying for a long-term care travel assignment, contact your Career Consultant today or search for jobs here!

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Clinical Corner: Safety First!

By Phil Niles, Medical Solutions Clinical Manager

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Transportation safety is key while traveling to and from your assignment!

Healthcare professionals are not just patient safety advocates — they’re also public health and safety resources for the people in their communities. Injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44, according to the CDC. The good news is everyone can help prevent injuries and maintain a culture of safety. This month in Clinical Corner, we encourage you to learn more about important safety issues like preventing poisonings, transportation safety, and slips, trips, and falls.

Poisonings: Did you know that nine out of 10 poisonings happen right at home? You can be poisoned by many things, like cleaning products or another person’s medicine. Every year, poison control centers receive more than 2 million calls from people seeking medical help for poisoning. It is the leading cause of unintentional death, surpassing even motor vehicle crashes, and includes drug overdoses, inadvertent ingestion of drugs or chemicals, and exposure to environmental substances.

Meanwhile, drugs in the workplace have become a hot button issue in the healthcare industry. More than 100 people die every day from opioid overdoses, and 75% of employers say their workplaces have been impacted by opioid use, according to a recent National Safety Council poll. Only 17% of employers feel well-prepared to deal with the issue.

For the first time in U.S. history, the National Safety Council estimates that a person is more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than from a motor vehicle crash. In fact, workplace overdose deaths involving drugs or alcohol have increased by at least 25% for five consecutive years.

What you can do: Laws to fight opioid abuse are rapidly changing on the state level and may affect you as you accept traveling assignments in different states. Before your next assignment, make sure you have a full understanding of your soon-to-be state’s laws. You can regularly review the State Nurse Practice.

Risks of the Road: Summer brings out the orange. Orange cones, barrels, and signs reminding us all that road construction season has arrived. While almost everyone adjusts accordingly and knows that better roads are coming, there’s always someone who doesn’t plan ahead, slow down, or pay attention. In fact, distracted driving caused 3,166 deaths in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  

What you can do: Navigating unfamiliar roads and new cities is an occupational hazard for many traveling healthcare professionals. To help address this, you can always plan out your travel route beforehand, drive slow through work zones, and limit possible distractions while driving. After all, you won’t be able to care for others if you have a major accident.

Falls: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), most safety incidents involve slips, trips, and falls. They cause 15% of all accidental deaths and are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities. Additionally, more than one in four seniors fall each year. Many falls lead to broken bones or head injuries. Slips, trips, and falls extend to the patient in the hospital, and nurses must be vigilant in assisting all staff and patients with fall prevention. Risk factors for anticipated falls include an unstable or abnormal gait, a history of falling, frequent toileting needs, altered mental status, and certain medications. Among hospitalized older adults, about 38% to 78% of falls can be anticipated. Evidence shows that one-third of reportable falls with injuries in hospitalized older adults are linked to bathroom use. More than half are associated with medications known to contribute to falls, such as anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic drugs. Also, about 40% of falls occur within 30 minutes of an hourly rounding visit by healthcare providers.

What you can do: Nurses hold the key in a critical step in the fall prevention process by communicating the patient’s fall risk and required interventions to colleagues, the patient and family, and significant others who need to support the interventions. Using a systematic process to identify and address the fall risk can nearly eliminate anticipated falls, prevent unanticipated falls from recurring, and significantly decrease accidental falls.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility! A “culture of safety” describes the core values and behaviors that come about when there is a collective commitment by leadership, managers and health care workers to emphasize safety. All nurses, whether permanent or temporary, should be concerned with safety and should work as safely as possible. You should keep safety at the top of your mental checklist, no matter what task you are performing for yourself, your patients and your community. When safety is given top priority, everything else begins to “fall” into place.