Can you imagine traveling to great new places AND doing what you love? Would you like to make a difference in people’s lives? Traveling as an obstetrics nurse may be the right career move for you. As an obstetric (OB) nurse you provide care to mothers giving birth and their newborns. You become part of a team that works together to create a wonderful experience for a blossoming family.
There is a lot of variety in obstetric nursing. Obstetric nursing can be divided into three general areas of specialty. Depending on the size of the hospital, nurses stay within their specialty area or they may rotate to other obstetric areas. The three areas of specializations in obstetrics are Labor & Delivery, Newborn Care, and Maternity Care.
In Labor & Delivery, the nurse cares for mothers up until they deliver. They monitor intervals between contractions, strength of contractions, and stress to the baby. L&D nurses assist in an operating room-type setting when mothers need to deliver the baby by cesarean section. OB nurses may care for mothers in a birthing room as they deliver their babies vaginally. Some hospitals have antepartal units for moms who need to remain hospitalized during their pregnancy due to early labor or complications. Your assistance in stopping premature labor is important to allow the fetus to grow, which will improve the newborn’s chances of fewer complications and improved survival.
Nurses in the Newborn Care area care for babies recently delivered and play an important role in monitoring the infant just after delivery up until the time of discharge. Infants will be monitored during this period to assure they are healthy and ready to go home safely. But sometimes babies are born with congenital problems that require the nurse to quickly identify the problem. The OB nurse works with physicians to refer the newborn for specialized neonatal care. Some hospitals offer various levels of newborn care for healthy newborns and more intense monitoring for that that are ill.
In the maternity area, the nurse cares for the mom after delivery. In most cases, after delivery the mother does well with few complications. The obstetric nurse monitors closely for changes in blood pressure, heart rate, uterine feel, and vaginal bleeding so that interventions can prevent further complications for the mother. Obstetric nurses are expert at pain management after natural delivery and cesarean section. They offer expertise to mothers on breast feeding and baby care.
There are important requirements when considering OB nursing. Most hospitals hire registered nurses (RN) who have graduated from an accredited school of nursing. Hospitals are trending toward hiring nurses with a BSN degree in order to obtain magnet status from JCAHO. You must have an active nursing license in the state where you will work. You will need to have completed a Basic CPR course. If you want to work in L&D, it would be valuable to be current in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Neonatal Advanced Life Support (NALS). Most L&D departments hire the experienced OB nurses. If you are a new nurse and want to work L&D, you may want to start work first in maternity for the experience you need.
Obstetric nursing is always challenging. As experienced OB nurses know, some days are quiet and other days challenging and fast paced. Some nurses feel that maternity care is not as challenging as other areas of obstetrics. But most areas of nursing have fast pace specialties and others that offer a slower pace. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that slow paced is not challenging.
Obstetrics does have emergencies where the mom and baby outcomes are good and other days where the outcomes are not-so-good. Sometimes there are infant deaths and sometimes maternal deaths. OB nurses know that the most difficult times offer the ability to help most. It is an honor to be part of the good moments and the sad moments. The difficult times require everything in your psychological toolbox to set the tone for family healing.
Being a traveling nurse in OB nursing will be a gratifying experience. As you travel, you will have the honor to work with families of various cultures. Your ability to adapt your nursing skills to meet their special needs will be critical. Clinical care practices vary from region to region. As you continue to work, you become an important resource for organizations wanting to learn more about how other organizations provide care to their patients.
As a traveling OB nurse you will care for families that come in all shapes and sizes. There are older moms that are new to motherhood. There are older moms that are experienced in newborn care. Younger moms need your expertise through support and education. There are single moms, adopting moms, and same sex parents. Sometimes there are multiple gestation pregnancies when twins or even triplets are born! Because each family is unique, each day is a new day should you accept the challenge. And isn’t that why we enjoy nursing so much?
To be a travel OB nurse, it is helpful to be an RN that is flexible and quick to adapt to new settings. Do you have a love of variety, adventure, and challenge? The pay is exceptional, but more importantly you have the opportunity to make a difference in the future health of both the mom and baby. Families will always remember the compassionate care you have provided. The relationships you create as a travel OB nurse will be etched in the minds of families for a lifetime.
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