Last week, while discussing tips for traveling to new cities, we also mentioned how the brain is programmed to have a higher sensitivity to negative news. That fear is sometimes the very thing that keeps us safe and aware of dangers around us. However, there’s one thing that has a habit of pushing healthy fear aside: routine.
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration reported that 52% of auto accidents happen within 5 miles of the driver’s home and 69% happen within 10 miles. There’s something about familiarity that comforts us with a false sense of security, and no matter how great we are at something, there’s a chance routine can be harmful.
We know you’re amazing at your job because only the best can work under the pressure of traveling as a medical professional. That said, there’s nothing wrong with a little refresher for the sake of patients’ safety, right? You found this career out of love for people, so let’s make them a top priority by following these quick 10 tips.
Communicate with Your Team
Working as a traveling medical professional means that you’re constantly working with new coworkers, under new management and learning all the nuances of both. It isn’t easy, but take the time to understand how your team communicates and actually follow suit. This is especially true for handoffs/shift switches. A study published by JAMA found that end-of-rotation transition between resident teams had a higher risk of in-hospital patient mortality.
A lot happens during your day and it’s your job to relay patient progress, challenges and any other information to the incoming shift staff. Likewise, when you’re entering a shift, be sure to actively listen and discuss the happenings of the hours before. Additionally, remember the facility you work within is also a part of your team. If you see something unsafe happening, say something to leadership.
Engage with Your Patients
Your coworkers aren’t the only people who have a wealth of knowledge about patients. Converse with the patients themselves. Discuss medications and treatments before administering. It will give the patient or their family the opportunity to speak up about uncertainties or ask questions. Ask about pain levels or feelings for accurate effects of the treatments they’ve already received. Engagement gives patients the opportunity to speak up, air concerns or simply feel less alone. Not to mention, sharing conversation and humor with individuals and their families can make for your own rewarding experiences. That’s the level of care people need in times of trouble and illness.
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Always Be Learning
Humans make mistakes. It’s just part of who we are. Unfortunately, that means you will probably experience one while on the job, if you haven’t already. The key is to always be learning from incidents or even those times where you almost made a mistake. The stakes are high, so consider your career in medicine as a never ending study. Pursue additional training opportunities, look into other areas of expertise, work closely with other experienced professionals for mentorship and read relevant literature. The brain exercise is great for critical thinking skills and it could result in another licensure or accolade that will push you further in your already lucrative job.
Get Certified in Patient Safety
Patient safety is always medical staffs top concern, but if it’s something you personally feel immense passion for, there are additional opportunities. The Certification Board for Professionals in Patient Safety (CBPPS) is an organization who helps healthcare professionals gain certifications for patient safety science and application competency. Any healthcare worker who meets their requirements can take the examination and become certified. With it, you will know you have the latest, evidence-backed knowledge of top level patient safety protocol.
Stay Alert during Patient Transitions
One of the most dangerous times for patients is when they are moved from one unit to another. Even when the patient has improved and is being moved from acute care or even being released home, there is great risk. Fragile or not, patients deserve every bit of your attention. This might be a well-practiced routine, but follow your checklist, ask the right questions and never assume anything. Use all the tools and processes your facility has equipped you with and be overly communicative with your team and the patient.
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Take Care of Yourself
Long shifts, short lunches, going to bed without dinner or even neglecting personal hobbies all have an effect on your ability to do your job. As a traveling medical worker, you may be practiced in handling stress, but that doesn’t mean you should place an unnecessary amount on yourself. Get a good night’s sleep, cook yourself nutritional meals and find a passion outside of patient care. A happy, healthy healthcare professional has the best chance of releasing happy, healthy patients.
No doubt about it, as a traveling medical professional, you have a pretty amazing job. Sure, there are a lot of hard days, but some of the best moments are those in which you’ve helped a patient leave the facility better than they were when they entered. Your attention to patient safety is pivotal in making this happen. Don’t fall victim to routine because that’s when accidents are prone to happen.
If you’ve always wanted to take your passion for patients on the road, but haven’t quite figured out how to become a traveling medical professional, read the Pathway to Becoming a Traveling Medical Pro and then submit an application to join our team. It takes 30 seconds and you could be off on your first adventure.