As a travel nurse, you provide care to people most in need across the country. Your travel nurse journey will probably take you to unique and unexpected places. Depending on where you go, you may find that your nursing skills are needed to care for patients in natural disasters or their aftermath.
Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and wildfires are becoming more common. Travel nurses might find themselves providing care to people who have been affected. You might also help people displaced or harmed by natural disasters. Many nurses choose to become travel crisis nurses and take assignments at a moment's notice to help affected areas. These nurses are usually trained in some area of critical or intensive care nursing and receive great compensation for their expertise and flexibility as crisis travel nurses.
Here are a few of the best agencies to work with to help with relief efforts from natural disasters in voluntary or paid positions:
RN Response Network: RN Response Network was created by National Nurses United in response to the need for assistance when hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the U.S. in 2005. They have helped send many nurses in crisis travel nursing positions to numerous sites needing aid.
American Red Cross: The American Red Cross is one of the largest disaster relief organizations and has placed thousands of volunteers in disaster-stricken areas. It also supports its nurse volunteers with the Nursing Network, which all Red Cross nurses are a part of. The Nursing Network ensures that nurses and health professionals receive support in their volunteer crisis nursing assignments.
Travel nursing agency: Contact your travel nursing agency to see if they have crisis nursing assignments available. Travel nurse crisis rates are typically higher than regular travel nurse rates, and nurses are always in high demand during times of crisis. If your travel nursing agency does not assign crisis nursing jobs they can point you in the right direction for this opportunity.
Whether you are looking for a volunteer crisis travel nursing position or paying travel nursing jobs, this article will help you understand what you can do as a travel nurse when a natural disaster strikes. Crisis travel nursing jobs may be difficult, but the reward for helping those who need it is worth it!
Natural Disaster Preparedness Tips
Natural disasters can be challenging and overwhelming, especially for healthcare workers like crisis travel nurses who must care for patients in critical situations.
Here are natural disaster preparedness tips for crisis travel nurses:
Have a plan: Develop a plan for yourself and your family in case of a natural disaster. The plan should include evacuation routes, emergency contacts, and a supply kit. Have a plan in place whether your family is on assignment with you or they may face a natural disaster at home. Make a plan ahead of time for your pets since you will be spending long hours or possibly staying at the hospital. Consider asking a neighbor, kennel, or the local veterinarian's office.
Stay informed: Stay up-to-date with weather alerts and other emergency notifications in your area. Know the protocols for your workplace and community in case of an emergency. The hospital should be able to provide necessary updates, but it is always a good idea to prepare yourself. Consider downloading weather and storm apps or bringing an emergency radio if you plan to work crisis travel nursing jobs or if you work in areas prone to natural disasters.
Get licensed in multiple states: You may be required to work in different states as a travel nurse, and each state has licensing requirements. Having a compact nursing license is helpful, but you need to live in one of the eligible states to obtain one. Travel nursing agencies and healthcare facilities sometimes wave licensing requirements temporarily during times of crisis, making it possible for immediate crisis travel nurse employment.
Update your resume: Make sure your resume highlights your skills and experience relevant to crisis travel nurse employment, including your experience working in critical environments such as the intensive care unit, emergency room, neonatal intensive care unit, pediatric intensive care unit, or as a rapid response nurse. Critical care experience is vital for crisis travel nurses.
Obtain certifications: Consider obtaining certifications such as Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), and Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC) so that you are prepared before you find crisis nursing jobs.
Network: Reach out to other travel nurses and industry professionals to learn more about their experiences and tips for succeeding in crisis travel nurse jobs. Contact your recruiter to let them know you are interested in crisis nursing jobs. They will be well-versed in travel nursing crisis rates and crisis travel nurse jobs. If your specific travel nurse agency does not offer crisis nursing jobs, they will be able to point you in the right direction for where to find them.
Be flexible: During a natural disaster things can change quickly, and crisis travel nurses need to be able to go with the flow while remaining calm. You must be willing to work different shifts, including nights, weekends, and holidays. Be prepared to work in different locations and adjust to various hospital settings and protocols. Hospitals are usually the safest place during natural disasters, so you can ease your anxiety about impending danger, and focus on your crisis travel nurse jobs.
Prepare for emergencies: As a crisis travel nurse, you must be ready for emergencies and have the necessary equipment and supplies. While the hospital is the safest place to be in an emergency, you may want to have food on hand like protein bars and non-perishables, portable phone chargers, extra scrubs, a stethoscope, personal medications, comfortable shoes, boots, a flashlight, extra batteries, and water in a bag that is easily accessible.
Importance of Being Prepared as a Travel Nurse for Natural Disasters
As a nurse, you are one of the first people to respond to the victims of a natural disaster. Your clinical skills will be challenged, and you will need to keep your composure while caring for many patients and working long hours.
When it’s time to care for patients nurses will be split into response teams.
Make sure you understand your role in a disaster response team. Duties may include triaging patients, monitoring vital signs, providing first aid, or managing medications and equipment. Knowing your role in the disaster response team will make sure that things stay organized and patient triage flows well amid chaos.
If you have been with the facility for a while, you may be assigned to the immediate response team or crisis nursing assignments. However, if you are a recent addition to the unit or are a regular travel nurse, you will probably be assigned to the aftermath response team. This team will come in after the natural disaster has passed to relieve the immediate response team.
If you are assigned to the immediate response team, it is important to understand what to expect in your crisis travel nursing position. If you are part of the immediate response team you will not be able to evacuate the area. For example, the healthcare facility will house you while a storm hits and you are expected to work throughout the storm. Fortunately, you will be paid for the time you spend at the facility. In most crisis travel nurse assignments you will be paid even when you are resting in between shifts.
Depending on disaster conditions, you may not be able to return to your temporary housing, so make sure you have what you need at your facility. Make sure to pack a bag of your must-haves, the hospital should provide beds, linens, and food (the essentials), but you will want to make sure you have phone chargers, change of clothes, toiletries, and anything else you think you will need to be comfortable. Hospitals are usually the best place to be during a natural disaster.
Nurses involved in crisis travel nursing have the skills and knowledge to help others during a natural disaster. You may have to support and care for your patients and colleagues, or volunteer your services to your community. Make sure you practice self-care so that you don't burn out. Natural disasters can be traumatic so it is essential to take care of yourself. Take breaks when possible, get enough rest, and seek support from your colleagues and loved ones.
If you think you have what it takes to be a crisis travel nurse reach out to our Health Carousel Travel Nursing Agency. We offer full circle support to help support you during natural disasters and throughout your crisis travel nursing career. Register for On Demand, to find out weekly pay information and search for regular travel or crisis nursing jobs. Our recruiters are well-versed in travel crisis nursing jobs and travel nurse crisis pay. Reach out to one of our HCTN travel nurse recruiters today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which type of nursing job do I need to have to become a crisis travel nurse?
All nurses in a travel nursing position or staff nurse position have the skills and knowledge to become crisis travel nurses. However, having critical care experience such as in the emergency room, neonatal intensive care unit, pediatric intensive care unit, or positions such as rapid response nurses or ICU travel nurses will help prepare you for crisis travel nursing.
Do crisis travel nurses get paid more than a regular travel nursing position?
Travel nurses who respond to crises may get paid much higher travel nurse crisis rates than regular paying travel nursing jobs. Travel nurses willing to go wherever disaster strikes earn a crisis travel nurse salary of at least $98,000. Crisis pay is additional pay that is offered to crisis travel nurses when they are needed to work immediately to cover a staffing crisis or work in risky conditions such as a natural disaster or its aftermath. Travel nursing crisis pay assignments are perhaps the most well-known and highest-paid travel nursing positions.
Travel nurse crisis pay positions are temporary and often short-term, contracts typically last 2-6 weeks but may be canceled or extended as needed. Travel nurse crisis rates can be anywhere from 10% to 100% higher than normal travel nurse pay. ICU travel nurses tend to make the highest crisis travel nurse salary. Crisis nursing jobs are in high demand because of the travel nurse crisis pay, they tend to get filled right away. Take advantage of travel nursing crisis rates when you can to boost your travel nurse salary!
Lauren Rivera is a nationally certified neonatal intensive care nurse with over 15 years of experience. She serves as a nurse expert offering support and educational classes for women from preconception through childhood. Lauren is also a freelance health and wellness writer with works published on several nursing sites. She develops and curates content for various healthcare companies, and writes continuing education modules for other healthcare professionals.
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