What Nursing in an Underserved Community can Teach You
Written by Rose Torrento on Thursday, January 17, 2019 Posted in Education & Career Advancement
We’re used to a certain quality of life, which is why it’s such a culture shock when we experience other people living below that threshold. For travel nurses working in underserved communities, the experience can take some getting used to. But once you learn to do more with less, it’s easy to see how working with an underserved population can help you become a better nurse and a more empathetic caregiver.
We go where we’re needed
It’s no surprise that every travel nursing assignment you accept will be a little different. But sometimes you’ll be placed in a city or hospital that has fewer resources than you’re used to. For some nurses, operating in conditions with fewer supplies or less equipment, caring for patients with less education about health and wellness, or living in a city with higher poverty rates can be shocking.
Travel nurses go where they’re most needed. In many cases, the places that need us the most have much less in the way of resources than we may think. However, these situations have valuable lessons to teach us. We must approach each assignment with compassion and find ways to give back to the communities we serve, not only to make a difference in our patients’ lives but also to learn about ourselves in the process.
Every opportunity provides lessons to learn
There are many situations you may be placed in while on an assignment that require understanding, compassion, and patience. While working in an underserved community, each situation can teach you a valuable lesson. For example:
- If you’re working in a hospital that has a tight budget and limited supplies, you will have to learn how to make do with the materials you have to administer quality patient care. This can teach you important skills in being resourceful. However, it is important to remember that if you feel patient safety is at stake, you should communicate that to your agency immediately so that any safety issues can be addressed.
- In areas that have limited access to public education resources, you may encounter severe cases of very common health problems. These cases will require additional patience and compassion as you educate your patients on basic aspects of wellness.
- In some areas, your patients may not be as even-tempered or patient as they have been in others. These situations will require a greater level of tact and fortitude than you may have needed in the past. In time, you’ll be able to deliver outstanding patient care to the most volatile of patients.
- You may encounter patients with very different backgrounds from yours. By talking to your patients and learning more about their lives and hardships, you’ll have a greater understanding of your patient population, their needs, and your privileges.
Each of the skills you learn on the job will benefit you both during and beyond your 13-week assignment. You’ll be able to carry these skills on to each and every job you do moving forward, whether in underserved communities or not. Many nurses come away from jobs in underserved communities with a new outlook on life and a greater determination to help those in need.
Learning how to work and deliver quality patient care in the toughest of situations will make you a stronger, heartier, and better nurse for the duration of your career. You’ll be able to help other nurses along the way, as well, and you’ll be more resourceful, more compassionate, and more level-headed should any undesirable circumstances occur.
About the Author
Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.