The demand for dialysis travel nurses is hot right now — an aging U.S. population (100 million citizens with prediabetes or diabetes) has increased the need across all fifty states. Dialysis nursing jobs are plentiful in just about every metropolitan area and many rural settings. If you’re a dialysis nurse interested in the travel lifestyle, travel nursing is a great way to gain experience and make a good living. Here are three things you should know about dialysis travel nursing before you take your first travel assignment.
1. Match your strengths and skill sets to the right practice setting
Different skill sets are called upon depending on the type of dialysis setting you work in. Multi-tasking and supervising others are important at a chronic dialysis clinic, where you’ll see multiple patients for four-hour sessions each.
“You’re moving a lot,” says Jerry Broughton, billing sales manager at Foundation Medical Services and 13-year veteran placing dialysis travel nurses. “You run patients through and take them off, bam, bam, bam, then the next group comes in.”
Handling up to 12 patients at a time requires overseeing and working well with technicians. Adding to an already hectic pace, chronic dialysis travel nurses working in big cities often float among hospitals where they’re needed, working in several facilities in a week.
When working acute dialysis, interpersonal skills like listening and conveying compassion are critical. Acute dialysis travel nurses treat patients who need individualized, one-on-one care. It means keeping the patient company four to five hours while taking blood pressure and oxygen levels and watching every little thing.
Nurses who can transition from one kind of dialysis to the other often need a special resilience. Chronics new to an acute setting come face to face with life-and-death moments. Acutes transitioning to a clinic go from four hours of caring for one patient to caring for many: “Running around like a chicken with its head cut off,” according to Jerry.
If chronic and acute dialysis comprise 95% of all available dialysis travel nursing jobs, the other 5% consist of pediatric dialysis, chronic PD (nurses teaching patients how to hook up their own dialysis at home), and home dialysis (nurses dialyzing patients in their homes). On the other hand, these jobs are harder to fill. So if you have experience in these areas, you will be in high demand.
2. The more experience you have the more marketable you are
Those with both chronic and acute experience have more dialysis travel nurse job options — meaning you have the luxury of choosing where you want go.
“If we can put it on your resume that you work in chronic and acute, it opens a whole world,” Jerry explains. “If we have 200 open jobs right now and 100 are acute and 100 are chronic, and all you know is acute, that holds you out of 100 other jobs. I have jobs in cities right now for chronic nurses but no acute nurse openings, like Dallas, TX. So, by being able to do both, it opens more doors for you to pick what you want.”
Jerry recommends that if you’re working acute and looking to gain some experience in chronic care, ask the facility employing you if they can give you some hours at a chronic clinic. As good as the nurse job market is, you’re still competing with others so every advantage helps.
Travel nurses who have worked in a variety of locations will have the advantage of being familiar a wider variety of dialysis machines “If we can put on your resume that you know Braun machines and Fresenius machines, that’s a resume-builder.”
Try experimenting with a variety of settings to expand your knowledge of how to deliver care in different communities. The more varied the experience you can show, from urban to rural, small hospital to large clinic, all demonstrates your adaptability and breadth of knowledge. “We get dialysis nursing jobs in all kinds of places,” says Jerry. “Rosebud, South Dakota, for instance. We’ve had nurses there for almost two years straight, and it is a very small place. Then I got an order for 13 people in Houston last week.”
3. Be flexible, thick skinned, and rely on your recruiter for support
Jerry offers the following advice to nurses looking for dialysis nursing jobs.
First, have an open mind when thinking about where you want to go. He recalls a nurse who wanted Denver for its proximity to the mountains. “Well, why not Utah?” he asked. “Park City is fantastic, you can go up to Snowbird, and it’s just like Vail, Colorado.” So she took the job.
He also points out that “people are not asking for a traveler because everything is peaches and roses. For whatever reason, they are short a nurse or they need more nurses. So anywhere you go as a traveler, there’s a reason why you’re there, and it’s not because everything is running 100% smoothly. Just keep that in mind.”
He recommends being flexible and even thick-skinned. You may not always be treated as amicably as perm nurses, but console yourself with the fact that you’re probably earning a heck of a lot more money than the average perm nurse you meet.
Finally, “Don’t be in a hurry to get off the phone with your recruiter. Spend the time to ask questions,” he says. “Recruiters get paid to answer questions that help you with what your dreams may be. Let us do what we do so you can do what you want in the place you want to do it.”