The increase in the shortage of nurses in UK hospitals is alarming. This is due to the fact that the nursing population isn’t growing as the general population is, coupled with the exodus of nurses into other medical professions. Therefore, the subsequent ‘brain-drain’ in this field has created a vacuum waiting to be filled.
On the shortage of nurses in UK hospitals, The Telegraph reports that: “Almost every hospital in the UK is dangerously short of nurses, according to analysis of official NHS data.”
Also quoting from the 2016/2017 official report of the NHS, it says: “In total, 214 of 224 acute hospitals failed to fully fill their day shifts last October – a rate of 96 per cent – while 190 (85 per cent) were understaffed at night. Both figures are the worst since tracking began in 2014.”
“Nurses said they were being reduced to tears regularly, with one describing an ‘overwhelming feeling of sadness’ at failing to deliver the care patients deserved.”
The importance of nursing and nurses, being the heart and soul of the medical profession, can never be overemphasised. No doubt that as far as the healthcare profession is concerned, nurses are the most trusted and needed. How then do we make up for this shortage?
Making Up for the Shortage
According to Wikipedia, “Travel nursing is a nursing assignment concept that developed in response to the nursing shortage. This industry supplies nurses who travel to work in temporary nursing positions, mostly in hospitals. Travel nursing traditionally refers specifically to the nursing profession.”
Industry Requirements for Aspiring Travel Nurses
Over the years, the travel nursing industry has shown the noble profession definitely isn’t for everyone, and that it requires strong-willed individuals who are always ready to offer themselves to the service of people.
Typically, certain qualities are expected of anyone in the nursing profession, especially a travel nurse. Industry professionals in the UK looking to work with a standard medical facility or homes that require private care for an aged person or someone with a special health need often find a reputable travel nursing agency to get their dream opportunity. Professionals with these desirable qualities are more likely to be hired:
- Flexibility and readiness to learn
Flexibility is the most important quality in a travel nurse — of course, besides their professional skills. Because of the nature of their job, travel nurses change environments often, which means they continually have to get used to a new set of people all the time. Consequently, they need to develop the mentality to adapt to constant change and be ready to learn new policies.
There are often new challenges to be faced, and this can sometimes be difficult. A professional travel nurse must always be prepared to face whatever challenges come in the course of duty, without breaking down. In other words, a travel nurse must be physically, mentally, and emotionally strong and fit.
- Passion for the job:
A strong passion for the job is a ‘must have’ for a travel nurse. They don’t do the job because it pays. They’re sure it really is who and what they want to be. The set of people a travel nurse interacts with changes every given time.
When the job becomes tough, it may seem human to become tetchy and transfer any anxiety on to patients. This is where a travel nurse’s passion for the job stands out. It will help them to always maintain an inviting demeanor and become exceptionally approachable, no matter the pressure of work or a new environment. It helps them place professionalism ahead of negative human feelings. They’ll not only be successful, but also find fulfillment in practice.
- High technical ability and experience
As the search for ease in medical service delivery intensifies, it’s only fitting that devoted professionals turn with the tide. That is why in today’s world of medicine, medical facilities are introducing electronic medical records/electronic health records (EMRs/EHRs), which require a certain level of expertise.
Knowledge of these systems definitely sets a passionate and ambitious professional apart and places them above their peers. Even when a dedicated travel nurse is not familiar with this system yet, they know it’s time to update and upgrade to being one of the most sought-after professionals.
- Float experience
This is not necessarily a compulsory quality, but it’s a bonus if professionals do possess it. This emphasises versatility as a professional travel nurse. It’s the ability and willingness to function and perform in more than one hospital unit. From Intensive Care Unit (ICU), to Progressive Care Unit (PCU), to Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) – in fact, wherever their versatility and expertise are called for. This could make a professional indispensable.
- Effective communication skills
Excellent communication skills are a prerequisite for this job. Being able to effectively interact with new people a professional meets on a daily basis is a special skill, especially when they’re able to disseminate information in a simple form that’s clear enough to understand.
Lastly, ECPI University – on its official blog – enumerated what a nurse should be. In emphasising the points highlighted in this article, it notes that a professional travel nurse is:
- Prioritises their time
- Passionate about improving other people’s health
- Not afraid of working in a healthcare environment
- Motivated to make a difference
- Able to apply what they learn, and
- Wants to join an industry with solid growth potential.
Possessing these qualities with the necessary professional qualification means an individual will make a good travel nurse. The shortage in nursing staff in UK hospitals (as revealed in the NHS report) also stresses the fact that there is a place for every nurse in the economy. So, there are certainly great opportunities and rewards waiting to be explored by people with all the right professional expertise and qualities.