Is camp nursing an option for a brand new RN?

  1. Hi all,
    I know its really early, but a friend of mine brought the idea up for me.

    I graduate in May as an RN. Is it way out of the realm of experience for brand new nurses to Camp Nurse? I'm gonna go explore all the links and such from the forum. And honestly I never thought I'd be interested in camp nursing- but it would be ideal for next summer for me and my kids. I feel confident working in a camp setting already and with all ages of kids (thanks to my Girl Scouting experiences.)

    I am going to contact the camp director next week- his advertisement hasn't even gone out yet, LOL. My friend edits the diocese paper and thought of me when she saw this. I don't even know the requirements yet or or anything for the position.

    Thanks for your input.
    Kathy
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  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   edgwow
    Dear Kathy,
    There are definitely pro's and con's of being a new nurse, right out of school and joining the camp nurse arena.
    Pro's
    In a day camp setting, you should be able to function mostly on "Mom" skills. First Aid, calling parent's of sick campers, some tylonol and a few temperatures. The main pro of camp nursing is the free or reduced tuition for your own kids.
    Cons
    The harder area comes when you don't know if you should call the parent and have them make the decision for follow-up care. ex. Is every head injury worth a call home, or are some notes home sufficient for a minor bump. Allergic reactions?, identification of impetego,chiggers, poison ivy, lice Vs. dandruff. You should be able to call parents and say, you can't come back until I have a note from the dr. about if that rash is contagious and what it is.
    If your camp has standing physician orders, they should be able to guide you as to what needs to be done for individual illnesses.
    I would certainly recommend individual malpractice insurance prior to starting the job. It can usually be obtained for under $100 per year.

    In The resident camp area, I would be a little hesitant, because usually you are the final decision maker for, minor illnesses vs. major illnesses, all doctor office visits all 9-1-1 calls. If you are working in a health lodge where you are the only nurse on camp, that is a big responsibility. If you have a more experienced pediatric nurse to call on if you have questions, you will be more likely not to overlook a potentially serious injury or illness. It's about asking the camper the right questions to illicit the answer that you need to piece together the health assessment findings. If you have a nursing assistant with you that is familiar with the camp that would be helpful.
    Camp nursing is exciting, be sure to bring reference materials about childhood illnesses and a medication drug handbook.
  4. by   BonnieSc
    Considering many camps have to function without a nurse at all, due to lack of supply... I think a new nurse would be fine, if s/he has common sense and is willing to ask questions. I've seen quite a few "experienced" nurses fail miserably in the camp setting, sometimes in dangerous ways, because they weren't flexible and didn't seem to have common sense.

    Camp is so different from most fields of nursing that I think most people come to it with a lack of knowledge. I think it's important to read as much as you can, attend one of the camp nurse workshops if possible (I've never been to one, but they sound really good), and make sure that the camp is well-organized and responsible in regard to health care before you take the job.
  5. by   MS Kathy
    Thank you both for the thoughtful replies. I just wanted to make sure it was not one of those OH NO NEVER! types of situations. :-)

    I guess this week I will look into the specifics and see where I fall. The more I think about it, the more I think I would be good at it- of course the thought of spending some time with my kiddos after all of our running during nursing school is really appealing.

    Well if it works out I'll let you know!

    Kathy
  6. by   Lillow
    Hey...just letting you know that there are those less qualified than you considering camp nursing/first aid...namely myself...

    I'm a first-year nursing student...but I'm also taking my level 3 first aid training, which is what the government (Canada) requires for all camp first aid attendants, including nurses. I'm sure the US is different, but I would recommend taking some form of advanced first aid training beforehand, just to get your mind into the right perspective.

    Anyways, good luck with it!
  7. by   lightning81
    I know there are camps out there who would love to give you some experience in exchange for a possible reduce in salery but you would get room and board.
  8. by   edgwow
    This is a general question. Is there liability for a non nurse administering medications (physician ordered or over the counter) to a child other than their own?
  9. by   BonnieSc
    Well, yes: there's always the potential for a bad outcome, or for the parent to be upset that their child was given medication at all (and let me tell you, I've had far more parents complain about me NOT giving their children medication--not putting Neosporin on a cut, not giving benadryl for moderate insect bites, not giving Tums or Pepto for a stomachache... though I learned from a previous nurse's mistake and pretty much ALWAYS give some medicine for a headache if the parent has approved it on the health form--along with the advice to rest, drink water, and wear sunglasses).

    Some have also suggested that there's a risk of practicing medicine without a license because dispensing OTCs is "borderline diagnosing". I suppose that would depend on your state and your protocols/standing orders.

    We're discussing this right now on the CampRN listserv. Several have suggested that Medication Tech courses are available and would be a good idea, though as far as I understand, med techs are still supposed to be working under the supervision of an RN.

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