As told to Ben Surby
A placement as a Travel Nurse through the North Zone Nurse Locum Program is an exciting opportunity to diversify your knowledge and explore northern Alberta. Nurses have the opportunity to experience unique cases and beautiful locations, while northern patients benefit from the additional knowledge and experience of trained nurses coming to their area.
We spoke to Arlene about her career and experience working with the North Zone Nurse Locum Program.
Arlene: The Locum Program helps fill staffing needs in rural Northern Alberta. The Locum, or Travel Nurse, is a Registered Nurse who is willing to travel and work within the set geographical area. Rural hospitals have a smaller staffing model than urban centres. This means a smaller casual pool and less nurses to cover any employee leaves of absence.
The process for the Locum Program is quite simple. You receive an email with a list of facilities requesting staffing assistance and reply to the program if you are able to work part or all of the requested time (most requests are between two to three months in length). This information is received by the Locum Program who will forward it to the proper Site Manager. The Site Manager will then contact you to further discuss operational needs and organizational fit. If you are determined to be a match, an offer letter is signed by both parties.
Arlene: My day-to-day general nursing duties involve working within the Registered Nurse scope of practice. The duties involved may be in an emergency department, acute care or a specialty area if you have the proper experience. Physical assessment, IV therapy and administering medication are a few of the common daily duties. There may be charge experience required as well. I work with the rest of the multi-disciplinary team to provide care to a variety of patients within the rural setting.
Arlene: I was attracted to healthcare because I enjoy taking care of people. There are always exciting changes in the technology we use and improvements to the resources required in providing patient care. This profession provides multiple areas of work that one can focus on, or specialize in, depending on where their interest lies.
I was attracted to the Locum Program because it gave me the opportunity to work in a rural hospital once again and fully utilize my nursing skills. The Locum Program provided me the chance to give back to the rural community by filling a need and allowing current staff to get much needed time off.
Being a nurse provides me a constant opportunity to learn and grow within the profession.
Arlene: The reason I love working in a rural location is the close interaction with my co-workers, who quickly became my friends. You often see co-workers outside of the workplace and children of staff members play sports together or attend the same schools. This helps build strong connections. Rural nurses are a creative group and find many opportunities to associate outside of work. Peace River has a wonderful group called ‘The Pink Ladies,’ who organize get-togethers through Facebook to go hiking, snowshoeing and many other activities.
Rural staff is a family!
Arlene: My advice for nurses wanting to work in a rural facility is to embrace the opportunity. There is lots to learn and experience working in a smaller area. If you’re interested in the Locum Program, try it! The staff organizing the program are wonderful to work with. There are also a number of additional benefits and you will be well-compensated for your time. Every small community has lots to offer and explore. Most of all, you will be doing a wonderful service for your fellow nurses.