Above: Jill Horton, the Patient Safety Specialist for Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland in the Washington DC area. She completed her education at Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia.
In even the top hospitals around the world, there are accidents, communication errors and mistakes that result in patients being harmed or even fatally injured. With thousands of patients in some of the larger hospitals at any give time, it is more common than you might think to have errors, patient record mix-ups and a lack of treatment and care. In fact, the HealthGrades health quality company revealed in a recent study that as many as 195,000 patients die each year as a result of hospital errors. This staggering number has driven many hospitals and medical facilities to hire safety specialists.
According to Ophelia Byers, a safety nurse coordinator who works at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the job of a safety specialist is to prevent and correct medical errors that take place in medical facilities and hospitals. If you are currently working as a nurse, then pay close attention to these four reasons that you might want to consider while switching to a career as a safety specialist.
1. To Earn a Higher Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States, the average safety specialist working in the medical field can expect to earn an average salary of $64,660 annually with just a bachelor’s degree. If you are a registered nurse who makes less than this salary annually, you might be interested in switching careers in order to increase your earning potential.
2. To Teach Hospital Staff About Patient Safety and Care
While working as a patient safety specialist, individuals will have the opportunity to teach others within the medical industry about ways to improve patient healthcare and to reduce errors and mistakes among hospital staff. Safety specialists will encourage the appropriate medical treatment, create safety education clinics for employees, explain case studies and act as an advisor whenever necessary.
3. To Help Patients Feel Safer
A large number of hospital patients feels unsafe when in a hospital, thanks in large part to the high number of annual deaths due to human error or miscalculations. Having patient safety specialists on staff can improve the confidence of patients and might even increase the number of patients who use a particular hospital.
4. To Reduce Daily Stress
Working as a nurse typically involves long shifts, irregular work patterns and incredibly stressful tasks. Safety specialists, while they still certainly have challenging positions, are more likely to have set schedules and regular work hours between Monday and Friday. If you enjoy nursing but are interested in a more regular and stable work schedule with less stress, then look into switching over to a career as a patient safety specialist.
Transitioning from working as a nurse to working as a patient safety specialist is easier than you might think. With a bachelor’s degree and at least four years of experience, you can begin working as a patient safety specialist in any number of hospitals or medical facilities.
Connie Fulton is a full-time writer for higher education blogs and journals nationwide. Several schools offer degrees in the health field, including healthadministrationdegree.usc.edu and www.berkeley.edu.