Four Tips to Manage Your Health While Working as a Travel Nurse
By Aaron Moore, MSN, RN-BC, travel nurse expert
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Not all of us have chronic medical needs that require daily medication or the care of a primary medical doctor, but all of us do have the need to see a doctor from time to time to cure sudden ailments or treat unexpected injuries. Working as a travel nurse can make these health issues just a little trickier to handle.
As someone who does take a daily medication, traveling became a balance system for me. I had to make sure I had plenty of my medication before each assignment, or deal with transferring medications from pharmacy to pharmacy every three months.
So, here are a few tips to help you plan ahead and keep you healthy while working as a travel nurse:
1. If you take regular medications, make sure that the pharmacy you use is national. Pharmacies like Walgreens, Walmart, and CVS are pretty much all across the country and are good about filling prescriptions that were originally filed in one of their partner stores. This makes it easier on you, not having to keep prescriptions on file.
2. Find a primary MD that you can trust. Having a physician that understands your plans to travel is important. And depending on your health care needs, you may need to make sure you travel “home” every so often for checkups, blood draws and such. On the road, you may need to transfer primary MDs every three months, so I suggest speaking to your current MD and seeing if he/she is open to this. Your home physician can also consult you on things you should be aware of regarding your personal health, since just stopping in won’t be an option to you.
3. Get recommendations for local care. If you don’t have a need for a primary physician at every assignment destination, you still need to get health care when sickness or trauma strike. Most travel nurse agencies offer great insurance that covers you all around the country. In fact, I’ve written about this before because health insurance is an important part of any job. But the beauty is you work at a hospital and you have access to care, most likely to an ER. If you don’t feel like you need the ER, I’m sure any of the MDs you work with can refer you to someone who can check you and your minor ailment out (just check that they are in your medical plan).
4. In any case, I would highly recommend carrying a health portfolio with you. Keep a copy of your recent medical history and physical form, pertinent labs results, and any other paperwork you might need. This can come in handy for your health and your peace of mind. As any seasoned traveler knows, every assignment may require new labs and titers. Having copies of these to show is always helpful. As my dad used to say, “Make three copies: one for yourself, one for them and one for when they lose the first copy you gave them.”
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