Have time off during the summer? Have you thought about camp nursing? This is the specialty that involves caring for children while they are camping. Many times camp nurses find that events change quickly and emergencies can be mild or severe. Flexibility is the key.
Camp Nursing sounds like an exciting and carefree way to spend the summer! However, the reality of camp nursing is that it is nursing. Camp nurses are responsible for the healthcare of children at day camp as well as overnight camp. Children with chronic illnesses attend camps, sometimes specialized camps but often they are mainstreamed into regular camping sessions.
Camp nurses interact on a daily basis with many non-healthcare providers. It is important to be able to easily get along with various members of the camp team.
The campers are the customer too so keeping things fun and exciting for them is also something to consider.
This is usually a seasonal job and usually in the summer months when kids are out of school. That said, camp tuition can best be described as economy-driven. For most families, camp tuition is a luxury item versus a must-have. So, in times of a strong economy, there tends to be more campers while in tight times, fewer families have the needed extra money.
Flexibility - probably one of the top-rated qualities. Camp nurses must be flexible to handle a variety of campers, staff members and parents.
Ability to multi-task. Camp nurses are responsible for many potential patients that may or may not be located near the nurse
Experienced - again another important quality. Often you are assessing and making decisions quickly. Acute care with pediatric or adolescent patients can be invaluable. Psych experience can be useful too as you will be dealing with new campers who might be lonely or anxious.
Wilderness First Aid or specialized water or watercraft certification - very important for nurses who will be at a camp where there are water activities.
The duties are as varied as the camps themselves.
- Administrative duties like completing insurance forms.
- A role in communicable disease reporting. As often occurs when in communal living situations, disease outbreaks can occur.
- Some risk management. There is liability concerns when you are caring for children with absent parents. Important to have your own malpractice insurance.
- Sometimes only healthcare provider on-site. What is the back-up plan? If there is more than one provider, how is on-call handled?
- Sick call responsibilities - are protocols in place? Is there off-site healthcare readily available?
- Medication administration - are orders only received from licensed providers or are parents writing out instructions?
- Communication with parents - extremely important. Who makes the decision to call parents? Does it have to go thru the camp administrator?
- Health appraisals - who determines if an activity is safe for an individual camper? If high adventure activities, are specific permissions obtained?
Often times salary is only part of the compensation package. One of the perks can be the ability to receive free tuition for the nurse's child to attend camp. There is also flexibility, travel, and enjoyment of the outdoors
The Association of Camp Nurses (ACN) provides much information. They have a newsletter, resources for camper history forms and they also have research based articles.
Choosing a Camp - Tips from an experienced camp nurse on choosing a camp.
10 camp lessons - Some valuable lessons on what to consider when you have chosen a camp.Last edit by Joe V on Feb 9, '15
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