With the advent of the NHS staffing crisis, and shortage of care home nurses, agency nurses are often around to support. Nurses however are quite a “clicky”bunch. Nurses like the familiar faces of colleagues and people who they are comfortable working with. They like to work with people whose skill set they are confident in, and people they can trust. For this reason, agency nurses are stigmatised. Agency nurses come from differing backgrounds and may have little or no experience working in the environment that they are placed in as an agency nurse.
Agency Nursing: The Stigma
Regular nurses can get frustrated. Instead of receiving support, they often end up carrying out the majority of the work on shift. They doubt the agency nurse’s capacity to competently care for patients with specific conditions. It is however unfair to view agency nurses as incompetent. Just because they do not have experience working in an area of specialist nursing does not mean they are incompetent. For example, a pulmonary nurse was given a shift on a kidney and liver transplant ward. She may not have the extensive knowledge and skills to effectively work on that unit. However, when one patient developed pulmonary oedema as a result of his illness, the pulmonary nurse was able to properly apply the care which was instructed by a doctor.
Breaking the Stigma of Agency Nursing
As an agency nurse, it becomes more and more important to prove yourself. This is not only to break the stigma, but because maybe you have also been at the receiving end of unsatisfactory work as a regular nurse. This stigma also stems from the fact that some agency nurses are given shifts even though they do not have the experience in a specific area. Agency nurses are no different to regular nurses and hold the same nursing qualifications. In fact, some agency nurses are actually more experienced than the regular nurses they are put on shift with.
Responsibility on Both Sides
For agency nurses, know the basics and gain as much experience as you can. Being able to identify your limitations in a setting which is totally new to you, is vital in ensuring safe and effective care. By being able to do this you are able to show your proficiency as a nurse. This will help you earn the trust and respect of the regular nurses you are working with. Be aware of your capabilities and do not accept shifts in specialisms where you know you have no experience.
As a regular nurse, do not to be unfairly judgemental of agency nurses. Ensure you are aware of the agency nurses experience and specialisms, and be more trusting.
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