Don’t let a difficult patient ruin your shift. Keep your cool under pressure with these handy tips.
Travel nursing is a rewarding career, but sometimes, you’ll meet a patient who ruins your day with their attitude. You know the type: rude, demanding, or maybe even downright abusive. Whatever the patient’s behavior, it’s still your job to care for his or her needs. So how do you manage to remain the awesome care provider you are when you are confronted with a nightmare patient? Here’s a checklist to help you keep your cool when treating a difficult patient as a travel nurse:
- Remember It’s Not Personal: People are usually in a hospital for a reason — they are sick. They might also be afraid, lonely, or on medication that makes them irritable. Everyone reacts to these situations differently, so It’s important to remember that your patient probably isn’t at his or her best around you. Cut them a little slack.
- Connect: Sometimes, patients just need someone to listen to them. Ask them what they are worried about, how you can help them in the current situation, or even begin your response with, “I understand why you might feel that way.” In most cases, patients appreciate your efforts more when you show them you care about them as a person, not just another patient.
- Remain Calm: When a patient becomes verbally abusive, take a deep breath and stay calm. This doesn’t mean you have to plaster a fake smile on your face. You can diffuse a difficult situation with concise language. For example, it’s better to say, “I understand why you are upset. Please know that I am doing everything I can to help you,” than “I am doing all I can here. You will just have to wait.” It’s also a good idea to set a time limit for how long you are willing to listen to their complaints, and then if necessary, inform the patient you will return when they are ready to listen to you.
- Know Your Emotional Triggers: Everyone has their own emotional baggage. Be aware of yours and what language might trigger it. If you are easily hurt by negative comments, take a few moments alone to recover before moving on with your day. Try to stay positive with a good sense of humor about the situation.
- Recruit Help: Unfortunately, even the above tactics might not be enough in extreme cases. Sometimes patients can become violent. These patients might have a mental illness, be intoxicated or drugged. Whatever the reason for the outburst, you do not have to put up with physical abuse. When necessary, alert your immediate supervisor to the situation or call hospital security to help.
As a healthcare professional, you know that caring for difficult patients is part of the job. Although it’s not easy, handling these patients doesn’t always have to be a chore. These 5 tips on treating a difficult patient will help you remain a professional, confident travel nurse.
It’s important to be respectful of your patients’ cultural differences.
As a healthcare professional, you meet people from all different walks of life. Understanding your patients from a cultural standpoint can be a huge asset to your career. It’s especially important for traveling nurses to gain appreciation for the population they serve at their different assignments. In large cities, there can even be several subsets of cultures within the population your hospital serves.
So what’s a travel nurse supposed to do? Obviously, you can’t learn every single language out there or be an expert in all cultures, but you can prepare a culturally competent checklist for yourself when you encounter a patient with a different culture from your own. Below are six steps to becoming a culturally competent nurse:
- Communicate: Does this patient speak the same language as you? If not, find a hospital translator. Communication is obviously the first step in discovering your patient’s needs. As the translator is speaking with the patient, notice the patient’s nonverbal and verbal cues. Different cultures have different communication values.
- Determine Level of Comprehension: Does the patient understand you? Head nodding doesn’t always mean they “get it.” The patient might also be embarrassed to ask questions. So gently ask them to repeat what you told them in their own words. If the patient can’t, then you or a translator can re-explain a diagnosis or the situation at hand.
- Identify religious beliefs/sexual orientation: Religious beliefs can have a powerful effect on patients as they cope with serious illnesses or choose treatment options. As a nurse, you’ll want to be respectful of your patient’s religious views and discover what treatments your patient is willing to accept. For example, some religions choose the power of prayer over medical intervention. Likewise, it’s important to know your patient’s sexual orientation for similar reasons.
- Determine Level of Trust: It can be extremely hard to treat a patient without their trust. If they don’t trust you, they may withhold crucial health-related information. Earning a patient’s trust begins with effective communication. So, be open and honest when communicating with your patient, and use a translator when necessary.
- Discuss Dietary Habits: Just like religious views, dietary habits can be a cultural factor in the life of your patient. You’ll want to discuss these habits with your patient and respect their wishes as they recover from a procedure. Showing respect for their values will help increase their levels of comfort and trust with you as their healthcare provider.
- Recognize your own cultural biases: Everyone has their own biases and cultural attitudes, so it’s important to be aware of yours. As a nurse, you should not allow your own cultural views to interfere with the treatment of your patient. Not sure where you stand in the cultural spectrum as a nurse? Take Top RN to BSN’s quiz to find out.
As a travel nurse, has there ever been a time when you needed to be culturally sensitive while treating a patient? If so, what steps did you take to ensure you earned that patient’s trust?
Travelers Conference 2016 is coming soon! Are you ready?
Whether you are new to the travel nursing industry or an expert in the field, there’s something for everyone at the Travelers Conference. Known as TravCon, this year’s weekend-long event, held September 25-27, promises to be the networking “Super Bowl” for traveling healthcare professionals. So that begs the question, are you ready for the 2016 TravCon in Las Vegas? Here are 5 tips for getting the most out of Travelers Conference 2016, so you can have a fun and productive weekend:
- Research: Before you even register or book your flight to Vegas, you should do your homework. Research which staffing agencies will be there, and determine which ones fit your criteria. You don’t want to waste your time at this conference talking to a recruiter whose company doesn’t fit your needs. Keep in mind what you are looking for in a potential employer, including the company’s reputation, benefits packages offered, traveling jobs available, and pay. Travel Nursing Central is a great place to start your research. Check out our agency rankings here.
- Connect: This event is a great opportunity for you to gain more insight into the traveling healthcare profession. Find the companies you researched as top performers, and introduce yourself to a recruiter. It’s usually helpful to put a face to a company. If you already have a great relationship with your staffing agency, this can also be a good time to introduce your travel nursing friends to your current recruiter. After all, this is how networking is done.
- Ask Questions: This seems obvious for a newbie traveler, but even a veteran traveler can learn new things by asking questions. It’s also important to ask the right questions. If you’re new to the industry, find out what it takes to be a successful traveling healthcare professional. If you’ve been around the block before, maybe now is the time to determine what you need to do to take your career to the next level. For the record, TravCon offers more than 25 sessions over the course of the weekend, and many qualify for CEU credits.
- Listen: Most people assume that networking is all about selling yourself as a potential employee to a company. You end up doing all of the talking, but learn practically nothing about the job or company. At the end of the day, networking is simply having a conversation. It’s important to remember that conversations are two-way streets. So, ask your burning questions, but then, really listen to the answer. Maybe a company you researched isn’t quite as great as it looked on paper, or perhaps a recruiter helped calm your fears about traveling with their agency.
- Follow Up: What happens at TravCon, shouldn’t always stay at TravCon. It’s always a good idea to follow up with the people you met. Whether it was a recruiter or just a new fellow travel nurse, you never know where these new connections will take you. In the age of social media, it’s also pretty easy to do. Connect with your new contacts on Facebook or LinkedIn and send a message. These relationships could be the start of a new career or friendship!
With these 5 tips, you’ll be sure to get the most out of your 2016 TravCon experience. To learn more about the conference, or to register for sessions, visit their website here.
For those travelers who have experienced TravCon before, do you have any other tips for what to expect during this conference? What worked and what didn’t?
A drug-resistant superbug, known as mcr-1 gene, has appeared for the first time in the U.S. Travel nurses need to be aware of the risks associated with this superbug.
Researchers recently reported a drug-resistant superbug gene has appeared for the first time in the U.S. Healthcare professionals are understandably concerned for the safety of their patients and the general population as a whole. In particular, travel nurses must stay vigilant as the nature of their jobs requires them to relocate to different facilities year round. Below are the top 4 things travel nurses should know about the latest superbug gene.
- It’s known as the mcr-1 gene: The latest superbug gene, called mcr-1, was found in a Pennsylvania woman with an e-coli infection last month. In her case, the gene mutated the e-coli bacteria to be resistant to colistin, a medication among a handful of antibiotics that can still treat drug-resistant strains of bacteria. Fortunately, her case was treatable with other last-ditch effort antibiotics.
- The gene can spread between species of bacteria: The mcr-1 gene is located on a tiny bit of DNA called a plasmid, which is easily transferable between species. Bacteria can mutate quickly, but the plasmid provides an extra shortcut. What scientists and healthcare professionals are worried about is the potential rise of a giant superbug. Hypothetically, the mcr-1 gene could pass on its traits to another bacterium with other mutations and create a giant superbug. This giant superbug would be resistant to all known antibiotics, and could throw civilization back to the era before prescription drugs.
- It’s nasty, and there are others out there: This mutant gene was first found in China in 2015, and since then it’s been popping up around the world. It’s also been found in a range of bacteria. Since the woman in Pennsylvania hadn’t traveled recently, it means that the mcr-1 gene has probably been flying under the radar in the U.S. for a while. Although this gene isn’t the giant superbug, it’s still hard to treat. The mcr-1 gene was resistant to several other classes of antibiotics, including fluoroquinolones.
- Your patients could be carriers of superbugs: For years, it’s been known that drug-resistant strains of bacteria have the potential to be found on medical equipment, and even occasionally healthcare workers themselves. However, a recent study conducted by the University of Michigan found that 25 percent of hospital patients tested had some sort of drug-resistant germ on their hands when they were discharged from the hospital.
The superbug may be a scary prospect, but arming yourself with knowledge can help protect you and the patients you serve. Click here to refresh your training on basic infection control and personal protective equipment guidelines. To learn more about the mcr-1 gene, you can read the published study in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy here.
As a healthcare professional, what are your thoughts on the latest news regarding the mcr-1 gene?