Travel nursing documentation is one of the biggest burdens that travel nurses have to contend with when landing a new travel nursing job. When I first started as a recruiter in 2006, it was standard to provide the facility with nothing more than copies of the nurse’s licenses, certifications, basic medical records, and a unit test. Now, every facility seems to have its own packet of facility specific documentation, testing, and orientation information that must be completed prior to starting a assignment.
There are some facilities that require completion of on-line orientation modules that can take up to 12 hours to complete!! It’s almost as if they’re having the travel nurse complete the same process that a newly hired registered nurse would complete. To compound the problem, the facilities often want travelers to start within one to two weeks of receiving the offer, leaving very little time to comply. This can result in delays, and often times, assignment cancellations.
While many of the potential pitfalls are outside the nurse’s control, there are several actions that nurses can take in order to ensure a smooth compliance and onboarding experience. One of those actions is maintaining a great set of personal compliance documents. This means maintaining an electronic and hard (paper) file of licenses, certifications, and medical records.
Travel nursing licenses and certifications
When it comes to licenses and certifications, it’s best to make a copy of all licenses and certifications, FRONT and BACK. Be sure they are all signed by you. The best thing to do is to go to a FedEx/Kinkos, or some other copy shop, and make a high quality photocopy of the fronts and backs of the licenses and certifications. Then, scan copies to PDF and save the PDF files somewhere safe. You can ask the service folks at the copy shop for help if you’re not sure how to do this. You should include your Drivers License (or Passport), Social Security Card, and ALL of your health care related licenses and certifications, including CEU certificates. You never know when some facility may require something obscure. It’s best to have copies of everything ready to go, in order to save yourself time and trouble later.
Travel nursing medical records
When it comes to medical records, travel nurses should maintain a file of records that will pass the most stringent standards. Here is a list of examples:
Travel nursing MMR and VZ
For these, it’s best to have a titer report. In case you’re not familiar with this, a clinic will draw blood and determine immunity by measuring the level of antibodies in your blood. A simple statement of “Positive” or “Negative” is not good enough for jobs as it will not be accepted by many facilities. Instead, make sure that the report you receive displays the ranges of immunity, and your blood’s level of antibodies, commonly referred to as “lab values”. Hand written titer reports are rarely accepted, so be sure the report you receive is typed out on the clinic’s letterhead. If you MUST get by with immunization records, note that most facilities are going to require records of 2 immunization dates. However, just know that the facilities’ willingness to accept immunization records for travel assignments is diminishing.
Travel nursing TB / PPD
It is becoming more and more common for facilities to require copies of 2 PPD tests within the last year of your job’s start date. Therefore, keep copies of every report you receive. However, be sure that the reports you receive shows the date given, the date read, the reading (positive/negative), and the induration. Even when the reading is negative, the induration should be recorded as 0mm. If you test positive, you’ll need a chest x-ray, AND the report that shows you tested positive. The most stringent facilities will require chest x-rays within the last year. However, the vast majority will accept x-rays within five years of the start date. Facilities are very particular about the wording that is provided on the report. You’ll want to be sure that at a minimum the report says, “X-ray reveals no abnormalities in lungs. No sign of communicable disease.”
Travel nursing physical exam
Physical exams are typically required within 1 year of your job’s start date. This is typically not a problem as your agency will often provide you or the clinic with a form that has all of the required verbiage. However, it’s important to remember to have the clinic, or doctor, stamp the document with the office stamp. Many facilities will not accept the physical exam without the official office stamp.
There are many other medical records and various documents that are standard requirements for travel nurses. You should try and get copies of everything you can. It’s true that your company will send you in for a drug screen, and when doing so, they can schedule the rest of the required exams and screenings. However, trust me when I say, if you rely on this approach, it’s inevitable that at some point you will be sent to multiple clinics, multiple times, for the same job because something got botched, or one clinic didn’t provide the type of service needed. This will cost you valuable time while you’re also trying to complete all of that facility specific paperwork too. Even worse, you may fall victim to a lab that delays reporting to the point that your assignment gets cancelled because the facility didn’t receive the report in time.
When you are sent to a clinic, ask the clinic’s staff for copies of everything. They will often provide it to you. If you can’t get it from them, ask your company for copies. Companies often do not want to provide the documents because the documents were paid for by the them, and they don’t want you providing the documents to other agencies. However, it doesn’t hurt to ask. By taking the small, easy steps necessary to maintain a great file of documents, you’ll save yourself a ton of time and trouble in the future, and ensure that you’re able to get the assignments you want when it’s crunch time.
Organizing and Managing Your Travel Nursing Documents
As you can see, there are a lot of documents that travel nurses must maintain on their own. Keeping track of it all can be challenging. Moreover, the documents must routinely be transmitted to agencies and hospitals. Contracts are often delayed and sometimes cancelled when documents aren’t received in time. Sometimes, employers will lose documents and request that replacements be sent immediately. In the worst cases, the traveler is forced to miss shifts until the documents are received.
To help organize and manage these documents more conveniently and efficiently, BluePipes offers a document storage system that provides members with 100 megabytes of secure storage space for free. Members can upload their documents and email them from the system to any email address at their convenience. This way, travelers can access their documents from anywhere they have an internet connection. Along with the rest of the free services that BluePipes provides, you’ll be able to manage your healthcare career more efficiently and effectively.
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