I’m finally home after a 14-hour shift and I’m ready to just hit the couch and relax when I see the blinking light in my peripheral. As I listen to my voicemail messages, I can already tell from the first few seconds what it’s going to be about. It’s my travel agency, asking me to send in a current copy of my flu vaccine and ACLS. I feel like they ask for these things all the time…don’t they already have it in my file? Wait a minute-as I grab for my wallet, my heart suddenly sinks-my ACLS does expire and in a few days! How did that happen?! I thought I took care of that recently. The truth is we all live hurried lives and sometimes, life gets the best of us and our expiring credentials and medical documents are no exception.
With the ever-growing amount of paperwork required for a travel assignment and with shorter timeframes to complete your file, it’s imperative that you keep all your credentials and medical documents not only current, but in a safe, handy place so that you can quickly get to it at a moments’ notice, or at least until your recruiter calls you with the job you’ve been waiting for at that prestigious teaching facility! So, what’s the secret to managing all the items in your Compliance file? It can be done, believe it or not, and once you start, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it this way to begin with.
The early bird gets the worm-The sooner, the better. Everyone wants that hot job that is offering crisis rates– but the lucky one will be the one who can submit their paperwork the quickest. Storing all your credentials in one safe place is key and will save you time and an unnecessary headache later. A binder, a folder, plastic page protectors, your trusty file cabinet, wherever you choose, be a “creature of habit” and keep your documents together for easy access.
If it’s not signed or dated, it didn’t happen-In the world of Nursing, we know the huge importance of properly dating and signing all types of documentation. Per the Joint Commission, nothing is considered valid unless it’s properly signed and dated. So, check the backsides of those CPR cards and even your RN license to make sure they are properly signed. If you send in your documents in properly the first time around, you will save time and probably a slew of reminder messages from your agency.
Consistency is key-Car Registration, Paying Taxes…these things need to be renewed every year without fail. The same rings true for our credentials and medical documents. We all know that we need to get our annual physical and TB every year and that all of our CPR cards are good for two years. So, when you have a few days off in a row, go ahead and bite-the-bullet, call and schedule that BLS renewal class or head on over to the occupational health clinic and just get what you need done.
Better to have it and not need it-Not sure if that Tdap Vaccine you took a few years back is still valid? Well, the answer is yes, it is! When in doubt, retain your records. Some documents are accepted at facilities for up to 10 years so don’t throw anything away. Toss that record and anything else you’re in doubt of into your file for safe keeping-you might be surprised at how much you really have.
Out with the old, in with the new-As soon as you receive an updated credential and/or medical item, such as a TB test, store it safely right away then move on! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve renewed something and I’m quick to file it away somewhere but then realize weeks later that I never sent it to my agency to update my file “on their end”.
At the end of the day, our documents and records are but a small glimpse of what we have to offer as a nurse to a hospital but if that glimpse is always kept neat and up-to-date, it will speak volumes to our prospective employers and keep us way ahead of the Compliance game!