November 14, 2022
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“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” – John Thomas, Football Coach.
Nurses are one of the few communities that live up to this phrase as a way of life. In times of adversity, they restore faith in humanity with their actions and commitment to professional ethos. They work in diverse clinical settings where tensions can soar to the point of incivility and violence. Although nurses are trained in critical thinking and problem solving to handle such situations during their Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) degree program, growing instances of violence against nurses have been a cause of concern. While emergency nurses and nurses of color have been particularly vulnerable to violence during the pandemic, the safety challenges of travel nurses are further compounded by the nature of their work.
This article is meant to be a guide for workplace violence prevention for travel nurses.
Travel nurses take up short-term assignments in distant locations that can be potential high-risk areas for workplace violence. Since they are away from home and their support system, traveling to a new place once every few months or weeks, they may not have access to immediate help during an emergency.
The responsibility for workplace violence prevention, therefore, lies entirely on their employer and themselves.
Here are some strategies that can help de-escalate threat scenarios:
Before taking up a travel nurse assignment, research the employer and the location thoroughly.
These are some of the many relevant questions that you might want to consider to decide on an assignment.
Not all employers post their internal policies on the internet. Hence, it may be hard for you to figure out how the organization may handle such situations. In addition to preparing your nurse interview questions and answers, keep the following list of questions ready to ask the employer:
Seems like too many questions to ask around a single topic? The employer may or may not think that you are paranoid. But by the end of it, you’d be crystal clear about whether the organization has a robust violence mitigation mechanism to protect you. And that should help you decide if you would like to proceed with the travel nurse assignment.
If you don’t feel comfortable taking up a locum role, say no. Avoid the tendency to brush aside your gut feelings about a place or a patient. Even while you’re on a travel nurse assignment, there may be several instances when you will need to tend to a patient alone during night shifts. If the patient ever comes across as unstable or uneasy, never hesitate to ask a staff member or security guard to accompany you during the visit.
On the work floor, regardless of whether you are dealing with a patient or a co-worker, be attentive to people’s behaviors. There are several behavioral indicators that can alert you to a potential threat situation.
These cues are warning signs that mostly precede violent behaviors.
The Triage Tool is a set of questions that have been developed based on research with abused women, Emergency Department staff, and emergency workers at a hospital and mental health facility.
These questions will help you assess the needs of the individual and the situation at hand. However, you will need to go beyond simple ‘yes/no’ responses and try to develop a meaningful conversation, as it can be an opportunity to talk them down and diffuse the situation.
A person’s responses to Triage questions are important because:
These are some of the most legitimate strategies to ensure workplace violence prevention for nurses. Regardless of where you work and the difference you make in others’ lives, always remember – Safety Comes First.
If you’re looking for safe travel nursing jobs with trusted employers, apply for opportunities at DirectShifts.