There are many obvious challenges while working as a locum tenens Nurse Practitioner. Some of these include: learning new electronic health record systems; always being on the move; living out of a suitcase; and having to constantly meet new people and patients.
Luckily, a lot of assignments will allow time for training to get accustomed to the new environment. This can vary from hours to weeks, depending on the length of the assignment. I know travel RN’s are often given the “cold shoulder” by their peers on the floor. Some say they know that the travel RN’s are getting paid more than them, so they should be able to figure out everything for themselves. On the other hand, in my experience as a locum tenens nurse practitioner, my co-workers have always been very friendly and supportive. They always offer to help or answer any questions I may have. They even check in routinely to make sure I am doing okay.
Most importantly, being in a new environment, we are unfamiliar with our community and patient population. For example, we may be unaware of what time the pharmacy closes or how much a medication costs there. We may not know that our pediatric population has a high influence of gang violence and drug abuse. Or we may not know that our patients are non-compliant because they cannot afford to pay for the gas necessary for them to drive to the pharmacy or clinic. We may not know that there is no orthopedic within a 3 hour distance and may have to become creative upon treating.
Depending on the geographic location we are used to, diseases may also be different. For instance, it is rare to see Rocky Mountain Fever in Florida or Dengue Fever in Oklahoma. Fortunately, we have support staff and our peers that we can ask or refer to for information. We can also begin to learn these variables throughout our time working in a new setting.
You will also have to learn the different scope of practices for nurse practitioners in each state. In some states you will have full authority, while in others you may need strict supervision. It is challenging keeping up with legislation, not to mention how challenging it is being okay with the limitations in some states and not others.
However, I think these minute challenges do not even compare to the limitless benefits of being a travel nurse practitioner.
Does anyone have any personal challenges during a locum tenens or travel assignment they would like to share?