The American nursing care industry employs nearly 3 million individuals, with registered nurses by far the largest occupation (30%) of total hospital employment. But when nurses make the switch from hospital bedside care to more flexible agency positions, such as at Seacole, there’s some key things to be aware of to make sure you keep your career development on track.
We spoke with Candice Darnell, Seacole’s Recruitment Coordinator, who shared her advice for anyone considering agency nursing, or even those who have been agency nurses for some time.
Protect yourself with a malpractice policy
There’s no doubt that nurses provide critical care services to all patients. But if they make mistakes, it could end up costing the patient, and the care provider.
Candice says “as a hospital nurse, you’re covered by the hospital’s malpractice policy, but as an agency nurse it might be wise to consider professional liability insurance”.
Professional liability insurance covers individuals for the mistakes they make at their work. Malpractice coverage is a type of professional liability coverage. As a nurse, if you were to cause accidental harm to a patient, then you might have to cover the damage. A successful malpractice claim might help cover the claimant’s needs. Still, it can also protect both the individual responsible for the damage and the practice for which they work. The key is to get the appropriate coverage for your nursing services.
Candice adds that “I think anybody practicing as a health care provider in today’s litigious climate can find working in the service industry very hard. It’s wise to carry your own policy, and it’s your right to do so.”
To find the right policy for you, start by reaching out to your local board of nursing who will likely be able to offer advice and recommendations around the type of coverage you need.
Know your licensure laws
Nurses, with more than 4.5 million individuals holding licensure at this time, are the second largest group of licensed professionals in the U.S.
Each individual nurse is responsible for obtaining and maintaining their licensure, and obeying licensure laws to be able to legally practice. Candice points out that:
“In the US, licensure can vary, and can sometimes be state specific. For example, in South Carolina a licensed nurse can practice in all other states, but in other states the requirements differ and could include additional protocols such as MD oversight. It’s up to you as an individual to know where, and how you can practice, otherwise you may be putting your license at risk”
Each licensed nurse is responsible and accountable for practicing nursing within a legally defined scope of nursing practice based upon the parameters set forth in law and rules, and consistent with his/her own education, knowledge, skills and abilities.
In order to maintain your license, some states require continuing education. Continuing education affords nurses the opportunity to learn and advance their own techniques in safe patient care and remain current on training, proper health care standards and practices.
Though some states do not require continuing education, most RNs must complete a certain number or type of continuing education courses to maintain their nursing license. Whilst employed in a hospital environment, bosses may take on the submissions for its nursing staff, but as an agency nurse the onus is on the individual to maintain their learning practices.
Most states require nurses to earn credits every two years. Some states mandate specific courses as either one-time or ongoing requirements. To count toward total contact hours earned, continuing education units (CEUs) must be available through an accredited agency or CEU program.
Candice recommends speaking with your state nursing board to find out more.
“I’d start by getting in contact with your license issuer who will usually have a list of accredited continuing education and how to submit it. If you have any questions, speak to them directly by calling the helpline number”.
At Seacole, we’re experts in finding the right, flexible position for you that fits around your life and your schedule. If you want to talk more about the opportunities we have available, or to discuss the benefits of a career on your terms, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Once you become part of the Seacole Health team, we’ll support you every step of the way.