While attending a recent nursing conference, I had the chance to speak to many nurses about the changes in health care and how they've adapted. Three topics came up over and over again: technology, infection control, and the nursing shortage.
|Figure. No caption available.|
Both staff and travel nurses talked about technologic advances that have improved patient outcomes, the need for infection control to ensure patient and staff safety, and the nursing shortage. They spoke of the impact of bar coding, the benefits of electronic health records and bedside charting, and the convenience of using personal digital assistants (PDAs) for access to drug information. They reminisced about the days when we started I.V. lines and cleaned up blood and other body fluids without gloves, when AIDS was just an acronym for the unknown. And they reflected on recent research proving how crucial adequate nurse staffing is to patient welfare.
What struck me most, though, was the difference between staff nurses' and travel nurses' attitudes about those changes. Clearly, travel nurses have adapted more readily and been more accepting of them than staff nurses. Perhaps that's a tribute to your flexibility-a quality that all travel nurses need. After all, you have to cope with changes in your environment on a fairly regular basis. You seem to expect the unexpected, maybe even thrive on it, and you deal with change every day. You've identified the benefits of advances in technology, such as the development of PDAs, and put them to good use. You've observed "best practices" in one hospital and carried them to your next stop. You're a savvy group, and I envy your opportunities to move from location to location, seeing the best innovations health care has to offer. So use your voice and your talents to make a difference in this ever-changing world of health care.