5 Caffeine Alternatives For Travel Nurses

Take a crack at drinking coconut water instead of coffee. This refreshing beverage can help you stay alert during a long shift.

Take a crack at drinking coconut water instead of coffee. This refreshing and healthy beverage can help you stay alert during a long shift.

By Troy Diffenderfer

TravelNurseSource.com

We’ve all been there. The last few hours of a particularly tough shift just seem to crawl by. You’ll often grab another cup of coffee to get you through the day. How many cups is that? Four? Five? You might have even lost track.

Unfortunately, too much caffeine can become detrimental to your health. High blood pressure, heart palpitations, and trouble sleeping are just a few issues that could plague your nursing career. Luckily, these 5 caffeine alternatives for travel nurses will allow you to power through those rounds without the negative side effects.

  1. Teas: Many nurses are leaning toward tea for their energy fix. Green tea, Reishi mushroom tea, and yerba mate all pack a punch in the caffeine department. In particular, yerba mate is a great alternative to coffee. Preferred by many, yerba mate is filled with nutrients and provides the same coffee-like buzz. Even better, this alternative can also minimize the “crash” that many coffee drinkers experience. Yerba mate is made from the naturally caffeinated leaves of the celebrated South American rainforest holly tree.
  1. Coconut Water: Not too fond of tea? Consider trying coconut water as your new beverage of choice. Known for its natural energy boosting properties, coconut water is a cleaner, more nutritious coffee alternative. Coconut water is naturally sweet, contains bioactive enzymes, and is chock-full of electrolytes, which makes it a good replacement for sugary sports drinks. Not surprisingly, this awesome refreshment’s popularity is on the rise.
  1. Smoothies: Trade in your sweet latte or flavored coffee drink for a fruit smoothie. Oftentimes, that afternoon slump you might experience isn’t from a lack of sleep — low blood sugar levels could just as easily be the culprit. So, fight the afternoon doldrums with a smoothie. Bonus tip: add nuts to your smoothie for a high-protein pick-me-up.
  1. Wheatgrass: What better way to start the morning than with a shot? Okay, not that kind of shot. We’re talking about a wheatgrass shot. Wheatgrass is a trendy alternative for those clinicians who need an energy boost pronto. Although it’s an acquired taste, nutritionally-speaking, wheatgrass is off-the-charts good for you. This natural energizer is full of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
  1. Exercise: Many assume that you need some sort of drink or snack to replace the typical boost you receive from coffee. However, exercise can actually go a long way to keeping you motivated throughout the day. A morning jog or daily stretching can help you tackle the day head-on. Exercise also releases endorphins, which help you feel energized and happy. Plus, you’ll be practicing healthy habits as well.

Make sure when you go to grab that cup of coffee that you’re thinking about these great caffeine alternatives.

Troy Diffenderfer is a digital content editor and marketer for TravelNurseSource.com. He’s worked closely with travel nurses all over the country to provide information as well as job placement in the field. In his free time, he enjoys reading as much as possible and listening to a wide range of music. He strives to provide the best possible content for all his readers in an informational and entertaining manner.

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Five Blogs Every Travel Nurse Should Follow

These blogs can help you find the tools you need for a successful travel nurse journey.

These blogs can help you find the tools you need for a successful travel nurse journey.

Whether you’re new to travel nursing or a veteran, you need to be armed with the right tools to help you navigate your travel nurse journey. Fortunately, there are several blogs out in the social media universe to help you do just that. Even better, Travel Nursing Central has the rundown on which travel nursing blogs every travel nurse should follow in order to have a successful career below:

The Gypsy Nurse: Along with a new look, this trusted travel nurse blog also recently rolled out an excellent travel nurse toolkit. From a pay calculator to a housing database, you can easily find the information you need before you hit the road.

Travel Nurse Classroom: Mike, a former travel nurse recruiter, is the author of Travel Nurse Classroom, a blog and podcast.  The podcasts tackle complex industry topics, such as how to negotiate your pay, and have a refreshing agency insider viewpoint. This site deserves a second glance, especially if you’ve ever wondered about the inner workings of a healthcare staffing agency.

TravelNursingBlogs.com: This gem of a blog has a “Ask a Travel Nurse” section. It can be an incredibly powerful resource for new travel nurses. You can get answers to your most burning travel nurse questions from an experienced current traveler. What’s not to love about that?

Blue Pipes: Does tax season make you break out in a cold sweat? You’re certainly not alone. A travel nursing career can make for a tricky tax return, but don’t fret. You can find out all you need to know at Blue Pipes, a popular travel nurse blog. We really enjoyed this site’s comprehensive four-part article series on tax deductions for the travel nurse.

Travel Nursing Central: While we don’t mean to toot our own horn, the fact remains that TNC is a great resource for the travel nurse. TNC provides travel nurse advice, hospital reviews, and a travel nurse checklist. Our team also highly recommends reading the Top Travel Nursing Companies. These ratings are based on reviews from actual travel nurses, so it’s a great way to learn which agencies are respected by your peers.

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Top 5 Fitness Apps for the Travel Nurse

Fitness apps for the travel nurse

Jump-start your fitness goals for 2017 with these apps for the travel nurse!

January is all about New Years’ resolutions. If you’re like most of us, somewhere on your list of resolutions for 2017 is getting back into shape.  Heck, maybe you’re one of the lucky few who actually kept this resolution last year, and now you want to maintain your fitness level.

Wherever you fall on the spectrum, it can be hard to keep your workout schedule when you’re a travel nurse. To help you reach your fitness goals while you’re racking up those travel miles, TNC has the top 5 fitness apps for the travel nurse below:

MapMyRun: You’re new in town — again — and you have no idea where the best jogging routes are. With MapMyRun, you’ll never be at a loss. From hiking trails to city streets, this cool app can help you find where all the cool kids are running these days. When you find a route you love, you can save it or share it with an online community of more than 40 million members. Plus, MapMyRun will send you tips on how to improve your workout so you can reach your running aspirations.

7-Minute Workout Challenge: This popular high-intensity circuit workout app can really benefit the busy travel nurse. You can do the challenge anywhere. All you need is a wall, a chair, and hypothetically 7 minutes of your time. You can repeat the workout to maximize your results, so 7 minutes could turn into 21 minutes if you’re going for the gold.

The workout includes a series of 12 bodyweight training exercises like squats or push-ups. Each move should be performed for roughly 30 seconds with a 10 second rest in between. Get ready to sweat, because the “high-intensity” part of this routine is no joke.

Dailyburn: If you like the idea of a personal trainer in the comfort of your own home, then DailyBurn could be your new fitness obsession. Dailyburn is an online streaming video program that allows you to pick from a variety of exercise routines led by several fitness experts. Fans of Dailyburn like the diversity of workout options. However, unlike some others on this list, Dailyburn is subscription based.

Sworkit: This fitness app has been likened to Spotify, but instead of song playlists, you can create a playlist of workout routines. The app allows you to choose from a variety of fitness programs or build your own. Plus, you can tell the app how long you want to work out for, so you can time it to your favorite TV show or podcast.

MyFitnessPal: This free app tracks your food intake and workouts to help you make better lifestyle choices. It’s a digital diet and exercise diary meets calorie counter. The best part? The app has a database of more than 5 million different food items, so it’s easy to track your intake no matter what you eat.

These top 5 fitness apps for the travel nurse make keeping your New Years’ resolutions easier than ever before!

What are some of your favorite workout routines when you’re on the road? Tell us in the comments section below!

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5 Holiday Decorating Tips for the Travel Nurse

With the holidays almost here, it’s time to deck those halls! As travel nurses everywhere know, decorating in a temporary home can sometimes mean wishing for a Christmas miracle. Never fear! With these 5 holiday decorating tips for the travel nurse, you’ll be able to make your home feel merry and bright without the help of Santa’s elves.

  1. Christmas wreath

    You can make a big statement in a small space with these holiday decor ideas!

    Invest in temporary wall hooks: These little gems make holiday decorating a breeze, especially for the travel nurse on the go! Hang these hooks anywhere — they’re easy to install and they won’t mess up your walls come January 1st.  Plus, they are perfect for Christmas stockings or wreathes! Which brings us to our next point…

  1. Purchase an evergreen wreath: Don’t have the space for a tree? No problem! Use a real pine wreath for instant holiday style. They’ll make your apartment smell like a Christmas tree without the mess. What’s not to love about that??
  1. Add sparkle with twinkle lights: Create a winter wonderland in just minutes. White or colored lights hung from your ceiling or draped gracefully over doorways can add a touch of glamour to tiny spaces.
  1. Hang ornaments from bookshelves: Who needs a tree to decorate when you have a bookshelf? Dress up your ordinary furniture with ribbons and glittering glass balls for full effect. Those wall hooks we mentioned earlier might come in handy here. Extra tip: you can hide the hooks if you stick them on the top of your furniture.
  1. Add a holiday throw pillow: If DYI really isn’t your thing, you can simply spruce up for your living room couch with fun, holiday throw pillows. No fuss, no muss. We told you it was easy! Need a few ideas? Click here!

Thanks to these 5 holiday decorating tips for the travel nurse, you’ll be ready for the season in no time!

Any decorating tips that we missed? Let us know how you adorn your apartment for the holidays in the comments below!

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Top 9 Tips for Adapting to the Night Shift

Switching to the night shift can be a rough transition if you're not prepared. Follow these tips to stay happy and healthy during your assignment!

Switching to the night shift can be a rough transition if you’re not prepared. Follow these tips to stay happy and healthy during your assignment!

By Haley Thomann

Fusion Medical Staffing, LLC

So you are about to embark on a new journey and a new contract. The pay is great. The location is perfect. The only thing holding back your full proclamation of excitement? You are going to be working nights — for the first time!

According to fellow travel nurses, here are the top 9 tips for adapting to the night shift:

  1. Block schedule: This seems obvious, but make sure you ask about your schedule. It can be very tough to transition back and forth between day and night when your shifts are separated throughout the week. Use that last night shift of the week to have a shorter sleep, it will help you adjust to daytime hours when you are off.
  1. Invest in room darkening curtains: This tip was unanimous when it came to our night shift warriors — even if you don’t work nights, these things are AMAZING! Toss in some ear plugs and a sleep mask if you are really sensitive.
  1. Request top floor apartment living: Since most people are working “normal” hours and have the weekends off, they aren’t usually considerate of the person sleeping below them. Make sure to request the top floor whenever possible for a little more peace and quiet.
  1. Start your day with breakfast: Some prefer to wake up at 5 p.m. and have dinner, but this is your new morning. Start it with breakfast! Regardless of what you eat when you wake up or before you go to sleep, make sure it is not something super heavy!
  1. Stay healthy: From eating healthy to getting exercise, these things will help your body stay functioning through the change and long hours. Consider meal prepping and packing a healthy lunch to keep yourself from grabbing junk food on your way home to crash for the night. (well, day.) Sleepless = bad cravings.
  1. Avoid caffeine: Yeah, we know, it sounds crazy! Why wouldn’t you slam a bunch of coffee and energy drinks to make it through? All that caffeine will start to take a toll on your body, so instead, STAY HYDRATED! It will help you in so many ways. Some travel nurses also suggest if you are going to have that caffeine, cut it off at 3 a.m.!
  1. Get some outside time every day: Soak up that Vitamin D! It certainly can’t hurt. If that still doesn’t feel like enough, invest in a nice sun lamp!
  1. Laugh and smile daily: Seems like weird advice? Night shifters typically have less social interaction, which can create issues with communication and the smoothness of a shift. Make sure to interact and bond with your coworkers. It will give you that little boost!
  1. Consider how you are getting home: Some of our travelers have had a bit of a commute when heading home after working nights. If you are too tired, DO NOT DRIVE HOME! Call a friend or take a little nap. Another tip from several of our night shift pros — wear DARK sunglasses when you head home in the daylight. That light can trigger your body to stay alert and awake, which will keep you up when you are trying to wind down.

Most importantly, listen to your body. It is a good idea to take a break from night shifts if you have been going at it for a long period of time. You know your own body, so take the best care of you that you can. Don’t be afraid to ask your coworkers what helps them out too!

Haley Thomann has been with Fusion Medical Staffing for just over 3 years, managing all its social media and content. She absolutely loves her side of the job because she gets to interact with amazing travelers, help potential travelers find the answers they need, and represent the Fusion brand. Outside of work, she loves spending time with her husband and 1-year-old daughter, Dylan Olivia. For more travel resources from Haley, check out Fusion’s blog at http://blog.fusionmedstaff.com/ or connect with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hwenthe.

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Top 6 Travel Nurse Myths Busted

You’ve been thinking about travel nursing as a career option for a while now, but you’ve been hesitant to take the plunge. Maybe, you don’t think you can hack it as a travel nurse because you’re naturally shy, or you’ve heard from your friends that travel nurses are given difficult patient loads. Well, Travel Nursing Central has busted the top 6 travel nurse myths wide open below. We bet you’ll be surprised by what you might learn.

Travel Nurse Myths

Don’t let rumors or myths scare you away from a rewarding travel nurse career.

  1. You Must Be Outgoing: While being an extrovert usually helps, it isn’t required in a travel nurse. In fact, most travel nurses believe that being a team player is the more important trait. You’ll make friends faster among the hospital staff if you can quickly learn the hospital’s routine, bring a positive attitude and hit the ground running with your awesome clinical skills. Outside of the hospital setting, there are plenty of perks to traveling alone. First of all, you get to schedule your adventures and enjoy them at your own pace. Going on a hike or indulging in your photography hobby are just some of the activities you can enjoy solo. However, if you’re still worried about how you might handle traveling, you can test the waters by sticking to a location fairly close to home. Then you can truly decide if the travel nurse lifestyle is for you.
  1. You Don’t Get to Choose Your Travel Assignments: Nothing could be further from the truth on this one. You absolutely have a choice when deciding where you want to travel. Your traveling company might not always have a job available in your dream location, but that doesn’t mean you have to go anywhere you don’t want to. Just let your recruiter know a few of your top location preferences and your recruiter will find jobs for you. Overall, remember to keep an open mind about where you decide to travel. You could be surprised to find that you enjoy the slower pace of a small town hospital compared to the rapid-fire pace at a sprawling facility in New York.
  1. You Can’t Take Your Pet with You: There are many companies that will accept your pets as a package deal and will gladly find pet-friendly housing for you. But, not all agencies are willing to let your furry friend come along for the ride. Moral of the story? Do your research before you sign a contract if you want to travel with your pet.
  1. You Aren’t Eligible for Benefits: Almost all travel staffing companies have a benefits package for their travelers, so this myth is a pretty easy one to debunk. However, benefit packages vary greatly with the traveling company. Here again, it pays to do your research. Find out which benefits are the most important to you and go with the company that offers them. You can start your research on TNC’s agency reviews page here.
  1. You Get the Worst Patient Assignments: There’s also the assumption out there that travel nurses get the worst patient assignments. Again, this isn’t usually the case. As a travel nurse, you are there to lighten the hospital’s patient load. Most staff members are happy to have you there, and your patient assignments won’t necessarily be more difficult than a permanent nurse’s load. However, if you know you don’t want to be a floater, put it in writing if possible. Your contract can sometimes be your best protection.
  1. You Will Make Tons More Money as a Travel Nurse: This myth is a bit of a gray area. Many times, travel nurse pay is typically better than a permanent position, but that might not always be the case. There are some assignments that are incredibly lucrative, but others can be comparable to seasoned nurses’ current pay. The key here is to remember that your pay as a travel nurse is usually based on a number of things, including whether or not you take company housing, enroll in company health insurance, and/or the location of your assignment. Again, this all depends on your travel company and how they handle pay. Be sure to ask your recruiter about this issue before you sign a contract, and remember the power of negotiation!
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Ask Travel Nursing Central: Contract Questions

Questions about travel nursing contracts

Reading your travel nursing contract can sometimes leave you with more questions than answers. It’s important to know what you’re signing up for when you agree to a travel assignment.

Your contract is arguably your most important tool to help you navigate the sometimes uncharted waters of your travel nursing career. It can also be the most confusing. Fortunately, Travel Nursing Central is here to help you map out your professional path. We posted some of your frequently asked questions about travel nursing contracts and our answers here. Please keep in mind that our website should not be substituted for legal counsel. Rather, we hope this information helps you become a better advocate for yourself. As always, we recommend that you speak with your recruiter before you sign or break your contract.

Question: “I am on my first assignment in Kentucky. I agreed to this job because the agency and the hospital both made it sound so much better than it actually is. I took a night shift job, which was a huge mistake. I’m not sleeping well, I’m sick 24/7, and I feel depressed and yuck. On top of that, my contract is extremely vague, and things don’t make any sense to me now. I missed a shift, and now they’re taking money away from me. I want out — I’m going through so much and frustrated. Help!”

Answer: “I’m so sorry your first traveling assignment hasn’t been a fun experience. Even though this trip wasn’t everything you’d hoped it would be, you still have options.

In your case, I recommend that you let your recruiter know how you’re feeling about this assignment so far. If your recruiter has your best interests at heart, she or he should be able to reassure you and offer advice on what to do next. Maybe this current assignment is almost done, and you can soon relocate to another hospital with better hours. After all, that’s the positive side of traveling nursing—most assignments are short.

If your assignment is truly unbearable, you can quit, but make sure you read your contract thoroughly so that you understand the consequences. Some contracts have monetary penalties for travelers who end an assignment early. Again, you can always ask your recruiter to go over your contract with you to explain anything that seems vague to you.

For future traveling assignments, I would also suggest thoroughly reviewing any new contract with your recruiter before you sign anything. It’s not always a joy to read all that legal jargon, but, if you do, you won’t ever again be surprised with any unexpected charges or fees. I hope you start feeling better, and enjoy future trips as a traveling nurse soon.”

Question: “I have been at my current travel assignment for almost a year. I have never done travel nursing before this. My travel agency and facility would both like me to renew, but I have heard from different people that you aren’t considered a contract nurse after a year at one facility. My travel agency says this isn’t a problem. What is your understanding of this? I would like to stay at this facility, but I don’t want any surprises if I decide to stay!”

Answer: “You can work at your current facility as long as you like. However, if you decide to stay, you will no longer be eligible to receive a housing stipend or a Per Diem allowance. If you work in the same location for a year, the IRS considers that location as your new permanent tax home. In the eyes of the IRS, you are no longer away from home, so you can’t receive the tax-free money. Whatever you decide, I hope this information helps you in your travel nursing career. Good luck!”

Question: “I am currently fulfilling a contract in California. I was told by my agency that the company I am working for is going to decrease my rate mid-contract. I found out that it was not affecting all travelers on my unit. When I called my agency upset about this rate change, they told me that I could either accept the rate change or my contract would be cancelled.  Can they do this?”

Answer: First of all, I’m sorry to hear that this assignment has been stressful for you. I would highly recommend asking your recruiter about your contract. I’m not a legal expert, but they should not be able to change the terms of your contract without consent on both sides and without proper notice. However, there could be provisions in your contract which would allow your agency to the cancel the assignment if you don’t agree. Without reading the specifics of your contract, I believe you have two choices in your current situation. You can accept the change and complete the assignment, or you decline the change and start looking for another position with another agency. Again, I would speak with your recruiter first to fully understand your options before you make any decisions in your current assignment. Thanks for writing and good luck!

For more FAQs regarding travel nursing contracts, please click here

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5 Tips On Treating a Difficult Patient as a Travel Nurse

Difficult patient

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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

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6 Steps to Becoming a Culturally Competent Nurse

Culturally Competent 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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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?

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4 Things Travel Nurses Need to Know About Latest Superbug Gene

Super bug

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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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?

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