The Role of a Travel Nurse in a Natural Disaster

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On the news today the broadcaster mentioned that we are entering the hurricane season.  This year has been devastating for many as a result of fire, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes.  Recently I read a post from a travel nurse who wanted to know whether she had to stay and work in an area that was flooding. Just what is the role of a travel nurse in a natural disaster?

As nurses, we go on high alert when a huge natural disaster hits our country.  Travel Nurses can be a benefit to the community and local healthcare facilities during Natural Disasters. We are becoming accustomed to natural disasters that seem to more happen frequently.  When a big one such as hurricane Michael hit Florida nurses looked for opportunities to help.

We are fortunate in this country that when catastrophe strikes people will rush to donate blood, money and other items that are needed.  It is natural to want to help the victims especially as we see the news feeds on social media.   Americans can see almost immediately the tragedy as well as the stories of survival.

The Role of Travel Nurses During a Disaster

As a travel nurse,  you can play a major role in the event of a disaster. The role of the travel nurse doesn’t change in a natural disaster.  Travel nurses are committed and responsible to the nursing industry and the patients they serve.

A travel nurse can play a vital role during and after a disaster providing care in facilities designated for the care of victims.  Agencies may have many assignments available in disaster zones for months post-disaster.  Should a travel nurse stay and work in a disaster zone?  What is the role of a traveler during a disaster?

Nurses can be Affected

A disaster can affect everyone in an area.  Nurses and other healthcare workers are at risk of loss of property and family the same as any other person in an area.  Can you imagine knowing that the home where you live is potentially in the path of …… you name it.  You are at work along with others in the same predicament.  What do you do?

As a traveler, this is where you can shine.  You are where you need to be to help those around you by carrying a little more of the load.  As a traveler, you are in high demand for months after a disaster.

Demands for Travel Nurses in a Natural Disaster

There are many states and cities that suffer from a nursing shortage.  As you can expect a disaster will escalate the need for qualified healthcare professionals.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for registered nurses is expected to grow by 15% from 2016 to 2026. You can see the states with the largest shortages to know where the need is greatest.

When disaster strikes the sudden need for medical help is the perfect situation for travel nurses to temporarily fill the gap.  Travel nurses can help to alleviate stress for overburdened hospitals in the area. Assignments in natural disaster situations may not be for everyone but for some, it offers a great opportunity to serve.

Nursing in a Disaster

There are some great organizations that employ volunteer nurses during natural disasters. If you are able to take the time off to volunteer check out the American Red Cross and RN Response Network (RNRN).  These are just a couple of sites where they work hard to deploy volunteer nurses in crisis areas.

Work in a disaster area can be very difficult.  The conditions may be less than ideal and the stress of caring for those in crises can be emotionally straining.  Nurses may work long hours with little downtime.  Accommodations for sleep may affect quality and quantity.  Lack of sleep and stressful conditions are likely to cause burnout.  Prepare for the possibility and consider ways to counteract and deal with this type of stress.

For many nurses the satisfaction felt from helping those in crises is worth the physical, mental and emotional toll. Nurses accustomed to working in crises care will find satisfaction in working in a disaster zone.

How to Help During a Natural Disaster

Travel nurses can provide much needed temporary support during the immediate aftermath of natural disasters. If you feel that you can travel to crisis areas and be effective within your capacity then get involved.

As a travel nurse contact your recruiter and ask for an immediate assignment to areas most affected.  They will be able to help with coordination with area disaster agencies.

If you prefer to volunteer your time it is most important to work through a disaster relief agency.  Samaritan’s Purse, American Red Cross or RN Response Network (RNRN).

Be prepared and ready to go at a moments notice for when disaster strikes.

 

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Cheryl Roby, RN

Cheryl J. Roby is a Registered Nurse and retired US Army Reserve Nurse Major. She has more than 30 years of nursing experience and 26 years of military experience in the Army Nurse Corp. During her nursing career, she has traveled as part of her military experience visiting many of the 50 states and to South Korea. She was trained as an Army Medic during the Vietnam era and later as an OR tec. She went on to become a Licensed Practical Nurse and then completed her nursing training as a Registered Nurse. She was then commissioned as an officer in the Army Reserves. She appreciated the challenge of working in various specialties and expanding her clinical and professional skill sets. Her time in the Army Reserves and California National Guard gave her the opportunity to travel to most of the 50 states and work in other medical facilities. During her career, she had the opportunity to work in several specialties to include, OR, Occupational Health, Hospice, Sexual Assault Team, Forensic/ Correctional Nurse, Nurse Case Manager for developmental disabilities, Parish Nursing as well as a Nurse Entrepreneur.

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