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What is transitional care in nursing?

As the name suggests, transitional care nurses are responsible for providing patients with appropriate care before, during and after their transition from one location to another. In other words, transitional care nursing involves a series of steps intended to guarantee that patients receiving treatment at multiple levels or in different places are coordinated and receive continuous care.

Transitions happen when information about liability/responsibility for a patient’s care is moved between two or more healthcare organizations or when one organization maintains information over time. Information and duties are frequently conveyed jointly (or should be).

The transition of information primarily occurs in the following forms:

  • Within settings, for instance, from primary care to specialist care or from an intensive care unit (ICU) to another ward.
  • Between settings, such as a senior center and an ambulatory clinic or a hospital and subacute care.
  • Spanning health states; for example, curative treatment to palliative care or hospice, or personal dwelling to assisted living.
  • Between doctors, such as a generalist and a specialist or an acute care physician and a palliative care physician.

The importance of transitional nursing

Transitional care nursing holds a lot of significance in the field of healthcare because it is during the transition period itself wherein most problems and errors occur. One research by the Joint Commission 

found that misunderstanding between medical personnel during the hand-off is responsible for 80% of significant medical mistakes. Nursing school success can be measured by the level of transitional care training they provide to aspiring nurses. A degree program at a reputable institution such as Holy Family University can prepare nurses for a successful career in the field. Some of the most commonly encountered problems caused by a lack of transitional care nursing include:

  • Poor communication: Communication is the most important part of the patient transition. It is important for nurses to know how to communicate information quickly and without any errors. Faulty or inefficient communication between nurses and patients can cause confusion and misunderstandings that can potentially harm the patient.
  • Deterioration of patient health: Improper hand-over of patients from one nurse to another or from one facility to another can also put the patient’s life at risk, increase the potential for falls in elderly patients and result in prolonged hospitalization or readmission.

What are the qualifications you need to become a transitional care nurse?

A current state nursing license, a bachelor’s degree in nursing and some prior experience releasing patients under the transitional care model (TCM) are the main requirements to work as a transitional care nurse. The most significant qualification appreciated by healthcare businesses is experience in the area, while some employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree in nursing. Any expertise with this patient demographic will help you stand out from other nurses trying to apply for this position since transitional care nurses frequently work with elderly and chronically sick older individuals. Before applying for this post, most transitional care nurses have several years of experience working in hospitals or other healthcare facilities.

Skills necessary to become a competent transitional care nurse

The skill set required to become a competent transitional care nurse is similar to the skill set required by all nurses in general. However, there are a few qualities that transitional care nurses must possess, and they include:

  • Effective and foolproof communication: Since the transition of patients greatly relies on communication between the hospital staff, the patient and their caregivers, it is essential for transitional care nurses to excel in communication.
  • Amazing memory and note-taking: Transitional care nurses will have to listen to a lot of instructions and patient information, so they must have exemplary memory and note-taking abilities.
  • Active listening: For the same reasons highlighted above, transitional care nurses must also be active listeners who can quickly absorb information.
  • Paying attention to details: Many things can go wrong between transitioning a patient from one setting to another or even while transferring them from one nurse to another. As a result, it is very important for all transitional care nurses to pay close attention to details so that they do not miss out on any important steps.

Additional skills that can help you become a confident and competent transitioning care nurse include:

  • Effective leadership: If nurses want to advance in their careers, they must become strong leaders.
  • Skills for resolving problems: Every day, nurses encounter challenges and must make difficult decisions. Problem-solving skills come in handy in these situations.
  • Ability to work in teams: Nursing teams can successfully provide care if they work together. Nurses can increase patient safety, boost clinical effectiveness and lower medical mistakes by working together as a team.

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