January 8, 2013

Meeting Quality Assurance Requirements

After you’ve interviewed and gotten the offer for a great travel nursing job, it would seem like the hard part is over, but there’s still a long way to go. Now begins the race to meet your quality assurance requirements before your assignment start date. At Travel Nurse Across America, we assign each nurse a dedicated quality assurance specialist to help them through this rigorous process and ensure that they have everything they need to start their assignment on time. Read on for more information about what you can do to be prepared.

Licensing and Credentials
For each assignment, you’ll need to provide the licenses and credentials required for each location and facility in which you work. Consider which state licenses you already have. Do they align with where you want to travel? Are any of them “Compact”? If they are, you’ve opened the door to a lot of new destinations without needing an additional license. States like Arizona, Texas, North Carolina and Virginia are just a few of the 25 Compact states.

If the place you’d like to travel will require you to get a new license, make sure to plan ahead. Some states take a little as a few days to apply for and receive a nursing license, while others can take as much as several months. By following the tips below, you can make the application process relatively pain-free:

  • Always fill out printed applications in blue or black ink.
  • Make sure you fill out money orders correctly to avoid delays. And check with us on license fees. We can pay those for you!
  • Make sure you give the board an address where someone will physically be so that they can forward the license to you. The post office is supposed to return correspondence from the board (much like credit card or banking information) and will NOT forward this to you.

When it comes to certifications, you’ll need to be very organized. It’s a requirement that your ACLS, BLS, PALS or any other certification be carried on your person at all times. Make sure you have the actual cards issued by the instructor and that they are signed by both you and the instructor. If you only have a copy, save yourself a headache and renew the certification if you can’t get the instructor to send you a new card. Also, don’t take for granted that just any certification fits the bill. For example, ACLS provided by the American Heart Association is the most widely accepted and many facilities will not take any other variety.

Surprisingly enough, even though you’re an RN with license in hand, your travel agency must verify your education. To do so as quickly as possible, you’ll need to provide them with an official copy of your nursing school transcript by fax or email. Many schools have closed over the years, so find out what repository holds your schools records and give this information to your agency if needed.

Something as simple as a reference can create a big headache for new and even veteran travelers. Facilities won’t hire you without them, but many are reluctant to give them to you or even have policies against it.

Here a few suggestions our travel nurses say work best for them:

  • Find out if your Charge Nurse/Director/CNO will be able to provide an actual reference for you.
  • Make sure the people you list as potential references know that you have listed them as such.
  • Make sure you have good phone numbers for them and correct names. Also, make sure your agency knows what your last name was when you worked at the place they are calling.
  • Get written letters of reference that can be verified.
  • Provide information on the units where the charge nurse providing your reference works.

If it helps, look at it this way. This may be the one and only time you can feel good about asking people to brag about you!

Physicals, Immunizations, Background Checks and Drug Testing
Gathering all the necessary proof of your physicals and immunizations can be a lot of work, but with a little advance preparation you’ll have everything you need. Remember when you were processed as a staff nurse at your current hospital? They likely drew titres, performed a physical, renewed your TB, etc. Ask for copies of these records. As caregivers you bear the burden of proving you are immune to many diseases. To avoid delays and added expense, obtain these records from each employer as they renew them and keep them with you so that you can produce them “on demand.” If your employer does not have MMR and Varicella titre, annual TB and physical, try getting them from another source. Call your school of nursing and see if they can produce the copies of these (you likely provided them before you started school). Are you still a full-time employee? If so, and your current facility has an employee health office, ask them if they can draw those titres for you (many times they are free or at a reduced rate) before you give notice of leaving. In most cases when you are preparing to go on assignment with us, we will handle those expenses for you.

Smart Traveler Tip: Load all your documents on a flash drive and make copies. Keep one in a safe place (safe deposit box, Mom’s house, etc) and another in your vehicle at all times. Then you have a permanent record that can be updated as needed.

Every travel assignment you do will require a new background check. The general rule of thumb is that screens cover the last 7-10 years for all cities/states where you have lived and worked. Credit checks are less likely, although sometimes a landlord will require one. It is best to give your agency any information that pertains to a potential background issue no matter how insignificant it may appear. Having an assignment cancelled by the facility for something that shows up on your background screen after you have completed all the other steps to get ready for the assignment is really frustrating. Don’t be surprised!

Just like background checks, you will be doing lots and lots of drug screens. The most common is a pre-employment screen for every new assignment. Your agency arranges the screens for you and pays for them. You may also have one during your first week at the facility and others as requested by the facility. And contrary to popular belief, these screens are not just looking for illegal drugs. If you are taking any drugs at all, make certain you have a current and valid prescription. Drug screens are board reportable and failing one, refusing to take one, etc., could lead you down an unhappy path with your board of nursing.

We’re Here to Help
Though this process may seem overwhelming, our nurses never have to face it alone. When you travel with TNAA, a dedicated quality assurance specialist will be there to guide you at every step and answer any questions you may have.