I have traveled nursed for approximately the past 5 years and for the most part it hasn't been bad. Since traveling in the southern part of NC for the past year I am both emotionally drained and literally trying to figure out how to get out of nursing.
First scenario, My first assignment was actually right alongside the NC/SC border on SC side. I was told that I would be working in ICU alone - no second nurse with an CNA (no ACLS). I refused, called my recruiter (who is awesome) and our clinical specialist backed me up. I worked out the course of my contract without incident and agreed to extend. The day before my "new" contract was to start they again told me that I would be in ICU alone. Again, I refused. They agreed to have the House Supervisor work out of ICU and they would send someone ACLS certified to be with me when she made rounds,etc. The next day I was told my contract would not be extended by my recruiter and the CNO of the facility tried to have me blackballed for the hospital system (big in SC). I fought that part of it - spoke with both Director of unit and multiple MDs who have since been references for me. This happened right before the floods in NC happened and it was 6 weeks before I could work.
Second scenario, I took a job in another moderately sized hospital in southern rural NC. During the course of this assignment I was given 3 patients almost every time I worked, 2 of which were almost always vent/drip patients. When I questioned it I was told this is the way it is here. I had already depleted my savings and credit cards due to my last experience so I struggled through and it was terrifying.
Third scenario, this one was actually good. I took an assignment in the Raliegh area and finished my assignment in ICU without incident.
Fourth scenario, took an assignment on NC/SC border - NC side this time in ICU. I was floated to every floor in the facility without warning or any orientation. By orientation I mean I wasn't walked to the unit, I wasn't introduced to anyone, I wasn't given codes for med room/carts, or oriented to what part of the computer system they used in the lesser acuity areas. I had to find all of this out myself. I was floated to PCU (no problem) but received a patient who was not stable - new onset DKA - 80 years old with bp of 70/30 - Charge nurse was there told me to call MD and left. No rapid response per her. I called the MD - who gave me orders (not good for pt with CHF - you can guess). I managed to keep her alive while taking care of 4 other patients. In the morning I texted the manager of the unit and voiced that I had some concerns and we could talk the next time I worked. We had previously had a meeting when I informed her that patients were being admitted on Levophed being run through PIVs. Low and behold - I get a call from my recruiter stating my contract was terminated. When I asked why - he was told I was yelling and cursing at the nurses station!?! Anyone who knows me knows that I would NEVER behave in such a manner. My agency performed an internal investigation and cleared me of any wrong doing. Additionally, one of the nurses from the unit told me that they had a huddle the next day - when someone asked where I was the unit manager told them that I had decided that I no longer wanted to be an ICU nurse and was going to just focus on school?!! WTH
I am again without work as it takes time to set up a travel assignment. I lined up a gig in Eureka, CA - had to wait a month but the money was going to be amazing - I paid for a $600 plane ticket (that will take 90 days to get refund) only to get a call that the hospital overbooked and cancelled my contract.
So here I sit flat broke at christmas with my elderly mother (lives with me) and I am feeling completely defeated and broken. I have gone through my entire savings and maxed my credit cards out because I do the right thing. I am now trying to get on at a hospital nearby with a horrible reputation but it is the holidays and there is no sense of urgency to hire at this time. Accept on my part of course.
Through all of this I have met so many amazing nurses who refuse to use their voices and do whatever they are told because they need their paychecks. I simply cannot put my license in or patients in jeopardy.
But here is the kick in the gut... I believe that nursing is one giant family. We work together to save lives and to improve lives for our patients. We hold each other to a professional standard. But my reality is that everything I have experienced here has been due to the complacency of another nurse. The culture of healthcare in this area is like nothing I have ever experienced and it will take me a long long time before I fully recover both financially and emotionally. Thank you for letting me vent.