The U.S. Supreme Court left decision making about how states will participate in the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid to each individual state. As decision for expansion in Medicaid coverage, public hospitals will come into light.
Public hospitals are known as safety-net hospitals or government hospitals. They are hospitals which are owned by a government and receive government funding. It provides medical care free of charge, the cost of which is covered by the funding the hospital receives.
Due to the possible Medicaid expansion, public hospitals are an uncertainty but are preparing for expansion expecting to add nurse practitioners and other medical staff. There will be a great need for all, especially for nurses.
Working in a public hospital can be very different from working in private facilities. Here are a few things nurses should know if they are considering applying to a public hospital.
Diversity is the spice of life, more so in a public hospital. Patients come from all walks of life, including the poor and uninsured. These hospitals accept patient regardless of their ability to pay. Any patient coming into the hospital is served equally. If they need a procedure, they will receive it and not be sent away.
The quality of service is comparable to any other hospital. People seem to see public hospitals as a service hospital to only the poor and under-served. That is not the case. These hospitals have state-of-the-art technology and programs. Do not be duped into believing otherwise.
Nurses become the resource information givers. Patients may be undocumented and uninsured and do not have the resources to find the next level of care, be it psychiatry, surgery or palliative. Nurses have the opportunity in public hospitals to develop the resources for their patients. They may have to work a little harder to develop those resources. This is where networking becomes an essential skill to develop when you work in a public hospital.
As in other healthcare facilities, advancement opportunities are always available. Staying current and certified keeps you on the top of you field. Continuing your education and becoming certified in areas of specialization will only help you in this regard.
Understand the hospital’s mission and values. Public health facilities want nurses who understand the vision and values of the organization and be able to blend in to that environment. They look for individuals who realize that healthcare is changing rapidly and able to become change agent side by side with the hospital.
Nurses should show that they are committed to public service. There is a need for innovation and adapting to the changing healthcare standards. It is a great opportunity for those who truly care and want to make a difference.