Nurses working in Labor and Delivery (L&D) are considered an important specialty since they provide critical care to newborns and mothers by helping them through the birthing process. L&D nurses play a huge role in bringing babies into the world, so they must be experienced and certified in order to monitor all aspects of labor and birth.
Although there are some extra certifications and training involved for L&D nurses, this specialty is a flexible position that can offer many benefits. Traveling nurses who want to work in Labor and Delivery have many duties and play a unique role in the travel nursing field.
Our staffing experts at OneStaff Medical are here to help you find the right L&D nursing position. If you’re thinking about traveling as an L&D specialist, there are some things to consider, especially with the high demand for these types of nursing positions.
The Demand for Labor and Delivery Nurses
Labor and Delivery is considered one of the most in-demand nursing specialties. L&D nurses work in a highly specialized unit, so there’s a large demand for positions and assignments.
Unfortunately, Labor and Delivery nurse jobs in hospitals and other healthcare facilities experience many highs and lows throughout the year. The demand for L&D nurses can go up and down based on the flow of the patient population.
At certain times during the year, like during the summer, more people are having babies, which opens up hundreds of L&D positions. On the other hand, winter may be a slower time for births, and only a few L&D assignments are available.
Because birthing trends determine when a hospital will bring in more staff members, it’s important to remain flexible. When hospitals see spikes in births during certain times, they will more heavily utilize traveling nurses to cut down on overall staffing costs.
Reasons to Travel as a Labor and Delivery Nurse
With such high demand, there are many reasons to travel as an L&D nurse. The Labor and Delivery unit is a fast-paced environment that can change quickly, especially when normal cases suddenly become an emergency. Once a patient is delivered, recovered, stable, and transitioned to the postpartum unit with their family, L&D nurses begin the entire process again when a new patient walks in the door in labor.
No day is a boring day in the Labor and Delivery unit, making it an exciting and sometimes unpredictable place to work. L&D nurses have a wide variety of tasks and duties they must perform during their shift, including:
- Triaging patients
- Circulating during c-sections
- Working with high-risk medications and IV drops
- Helping patients recover after surgery
- Monitoring patients and assessing vitals
- Helping mothers push during labor
- Helping to deliver babies, especially if the doctor doesn’t make it on time
- Epidural placement and tubal ligations
- Neonatal resuscitation, especially if the infant doesn’t transition well after delivery
Traveling L&D nurses may also have different privileges depending on what state they're in. Certain state standards allow L&D nurses to administer certain medications, perform vaginal exams, and place intrauterine pressure catheters and fetal scalp electrodes. In other states, however, these tasks must be performed by a doctor or resident only.
Another advantage to being a traveling L&D nurse is that the Labor and Delivery specialty falls under a “Specialty Bill rate” category. This means that the company you’re in contract with bills the hospital at a higher rate than other nursing positions. Some hospitals and agencies even specify a certain rate for L&D nurses that is typically higher than other specialties. Because of this, L&D nurses may make one to three dollars more an hour than other nurses.
When birthing rates are at their peak, and L&D nurses are in high demand, positions may have a pay increase known as a crisis rate. Nurses earning a crisis rate could earn five to twenty dollars per hour higher than their normal rate. Keep in mind that these pay rates do fluctuate with the job market and time of year.
Finally, similar to other traveling nurses, traveling L&D nurses can take advantage of a range of benefits, including a higher salary, medical insurance, housing stipend, and so much more.
Requirements of a Labor and Delivery Travel Nurse
Like most traveling nurses, L&D nurses must have experience working in the specialty before traveling. However, unlike other travel nursing specialties, most healthcare facilities require at least three years of experience working in Labor and Deliver before traveling. Hospitals with regular high-risk delivery situations may even ask for three to five years.
Traveling nurses must hold either an ADN or BSN to be considered a registered nurse. Nurses wanting to work in the L&D should also possess the following certifications:
- Basic Life Support (BLS)
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
- Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
- Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP)
- Electronic Fetal Heart Monitoring
L&D travel nurses must also be licensed in the state they wish to work in. Fortunately, working with a traveling nurse staffing agency can make the paperwork process a lot easier for you, and they can provide you with the right resources.
4 Tips for Labor and Delivery Travel Nurses
Since Labor and Delivery is a crucial unit in healthcare facilities, it’s important for traveling L&D nurses to adapt and perform job duties well. If you’re already an L&D specialist and you want to start traveling, here are some key tips for getting started.
1. Be Flexible
Moving from one assignment to another can be a significant adjustment, especially if you have to get used to new doctors and staff members and their varying expectations and preferences. Over time, your flexibility will improve as you gain more experience as a traveling nurse, so it’s important to remain open-minded in the interim.
You should also exhibit flexibility when trying to land a job. The demand for L&D positions can vary depending on the time of year, so you’ll want to plan for moments when positions may not be as easy to come by.
2. Be Open-Minded
As a nurse, you work with many people every day, including both patients and their families. Keeping a positive, pleasant attitude and being open-minded ensures that the transition to a new assignment will go as smoothly as possible.
Be open to new facilities, opportunities, patient populations, and job duties. Traveling L&D nurses should be open-minded and learn how to take constructive criticism well, as well as being open to new experiences.
You should avoid starting every assignment by stating how different things were at previous facilities. This is extremely off-putting to other staff members and agencies. Instead of being critical of your new workflow and environment, remain flexible and helpful.
3. Consider Unit Organization and Location
Different hospitals organize their L&D units in different ways. Some hospitals may require their nurses to focus only on specific aspects of the job, while others allow nurses to take on more tasks and responsibilities. You should consider which unit organization works the best for you when looking for an L&D position.
Hospitals can also work differently if they’re in an urban location versus a rural one. Rural healthcare facilities see fewer births and are more likely to experience lulls during certain times of the year. These hospitals may require their traveling nurses to float to other units if they are needed more elsewhere.
As you search for a travel nursing position in L&D, you’ll want to talk to your agency to get an idea of the unit location and what their operations look like.
4. Ask Questions
Before accepting any new travel nursing assignment, do a thorough interview with your agency to make sure any questions you have are answered. During your interview, you’ll want to get a feel for the healthcare facility, staffing, and what your schedule may look like.
Travel nursing staffing agencies like OneStaff Medical are here to help you find the assignment that matches your skillset and expertise. Some questions you should consider asking include:
- Why does this facility need traveling nurses?
- What will you be responsible for?
- What job duties are placed on you as the nurse versus what tasks do the doctors perform?
- How many nurses are staffed per shift?
- How many deliveries does the unit see every month?
By asking these questions before starting your assignment, you won’t walk into your first shift blindly.
Once you begin working at the facility, you’ll also want to continue asking questions, especially when you don’t know or understand something. You should be honest about what you do know and ask for help when you need to. Be very clear if you don’t feel comfortable in your assignment, especially when the patient-to-staff ratio is different from what you may be used to.
Labor and Delivery specialists play an important role for newborns and their families. If you’re looking to become a traveling nurse in the L&D unit, keep an open mind and be flexible with L&D demands to get the most out of each assignment.
Are you interested in becoming a traveling Labor and Delivery nurse? OneStaff Medical can make the process easier for you by finding the perfect assignment to fit your needs. Browse our current job openings or contact us today at 877-783-1483 to learn more.