Disaster Nursing

With much of the east coast still reeling from the devastation incurred from Hurricane Sandy, we at Aya Healthcare thought it would be a good idea to highlight the role of nurses during large scale disasters. Nurses comprise the largest healthcare workgroup in most countries and are at the forefront of the healthcare response to disasters.  The disruptions in a community resulting from the impact of a hazardous event have varying impacts on nursing and the provision of health care. Essentially, nurses, along with other emergency response groups, are the fabric that hold healthcare together when a disaster strikes. Here are a few ways that nurses can be most effective in emergency situations:

Critical Thinking. Though it may seem redundant, the best thing a nurse can bring to a disaster is their wits. With a strong knowledge base of the community and its potential resources, nurses are in a key position to assist with the necessary problem-solving required during a disaster. A nurse in a disaster must be aware of local needs, and furthermore, understanding gaps in current disaster plans and envisioning improvements for greater functionality are valuable components of nurses’ critical thinking capabilities.  A nurse on a travel nursing assignment can recognize similar flaws anywhere they travel, and  can work with staff nurses to best implement healthcare to all.

Adaptability. A disaster introduces confusion and interprets well-laid plans and nurses must fluidly adapt to changing conditions.  Nurses may need to provide care in a crowded emergency department (ED), or at the scene of the event, or in a quickly converted hospital cafeteria, or in a makeshift tent. It is no stretch of the imagination to argue that travel nurses have distinct advantage in this area– they are already used to altering practices and procedure based on SOP at the hospital they find themselves at.

Leadership.  Nurses must utilize their leadership abilities to coordinate and organize efforts during all stages of a disaster. Nurses in leadership positions must address the overall healthcare response. A nurse on travel assignment is likely to defer to someone who has a staff position, but do not be discouraged from giving ideas and advice!  Disaster response is a team effort and everyone must bring something to the table.

ABC did a piece on the actions of Nurses during Hurricane Sandy:

Aya Healthcare knows just how important nurses working travel nursing jobs can be in aiding healthcare facilities. We applauder your efforts during these especially challenging times and hope that you are able to weather the out the storm! If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 1-866-687-7390.


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