Volunteering as a camp nurse: What is your accountability?
Thank you to the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia for permission to adapt their case study.
Marlene is excited at the opportunity to volunteer as the nurse at a community youth camp. She'll be the only nurse at this week-long camp. Because she’s never done this before, Marlene wonders if her 15 years of acute care experience on a medical ward has given her the needed competence. Marlene asks the camp organizers for the nurse’s role description and a list of the available resources and supports. She requests examples of situations she may encounter. With the camp located at a lake just outside of city limits, accessing advanced services should be quick and easy. She's wondering what else she should know before going into this role.
What's different about camp nursing
Generally, practising in a non-health care setting like a camp means you work autonomously and often without other health-care providers at your work site. In addition, you may not have the resources and supports you’re used to having when working in a health-care organization.
Marlene needs to be aware that, regardless of the practice setting or the volunteer nature of this camp role, she’s accountable to practise in accordance with the Practice Standards for Regulated Members, and within all relevant legislation and regulations.
What should Marlene consider?
Marlene should review the camp nurse role expectations, relevant policies and protocols with the organization, and discuss any questions or concerns.
What are other factors to consider when volunteering as a camp nurse?
- Do I know who my clients will be? Campers, camp staff, and/or other volunteers?
- Do I have the specific knowledge, skills and judgment to provide the care and services needed, and to manage any outcomes of my interventions?
- Am I aware of relevant camp resources e.g., policies, guidelines, camp protocols, other clinical supports and equipment?
- Do I understand how to document the care I provide, as well as review and update clients’ health records?
- Can I competently administer the typical medications required? Do I understand the camp policies specific to the collection, storage, distribution and administration of medications?
- Am I familiar with the camp policies related to common health problems and/or interventions (e.g., heat stroke, anaphylaxis, minor injuries, sexual health matters, etc.)?
- Do I know how to access a physician or nurse practitioner if necessary and what support might be available from other health-care professionals?
- Am I familiar with the emergency procedures and consultation processes when client care is urgent or beyond available resources on site?
- Does the camp have policies on liability insurance? Note that the Canadian Nurse Protective Society (CNPS) provides professional liability protection for CARNA registered nurses with practising registration.
Disclaimer: Our case studies are fictional educational resources. While we strive to make the scenarios as realistic as possible, any resemblance to actual people or events is coincidental.