Pan Travelers - Knowledge, Experience, Strength
Skills Checklist Initiative Print
Written by Staff   

Update March 24, 2012: This project continues to move forward. There was a brief hiatus as some key volunteer coordinators were distracted by new travel assignments. The latest is a very concise Cath Lab RN skills checklist uploaded today. You can access all skills checklists available on the Downloads page here. Do log in first. Everything on the Downloads page is free to all, however you do need to be a member first - a free level is available during the quick registration here.

Update Oct 25, 2011: Just uploaded is the new Pediatrics - PICU - NICU combined list. It is really good!

Update Sept 9, 2011: This project is gaining momentum. There are three more checklists posted and the existing ones were revised with feedback from both travelers and managers. In total, there are now over 12 specialties and sub-specialties represented:

Medical/Surgical - Oncology - Telemetry - Intensive Care   (combined list)

Obstetrics - Nursery   (Antepartum, L&D, Postpartum, Nursery combined list)

Emergency Department

Operating Room

Scrub Technologist

Sterile Processing Technologist

For a full description of this project, please scroll down. Your input and help is much appreciated at skills@pantravelers.org 


Update August 16, 2011. Many, many volunteers have contributed to this initiative over the last three years and a full page of credits will be posted later. Here are the first three:

Emergency Department RN 

Med/Surg - Telemetry - ICU RN  (combined list)

Operating Room RN

In the next few weeks, we will have a combined Pediatric - PICU - NICU list and a scrub technologist list. These are still works in progress, and we are validating them with several nurse managers (the end users). Your specialty knowledge is valuable, please email us at skills@pantravelers.org if you see the smallest thing that could use improvement. We think they are already far better than anything else already. Next year we hope to have the ability to fill them out online as well.

We know, skills checklists are a big yawn, a chore to go through with every new agency. True, you've never seen a good one, but so? Well, we are here to tell you that they do matter! Your profile is selected out of a large stack of profiles sitting on the manager's desk, and her assessment of your abilities is what get's you interviewed!

Was that skills checklist designed so that it reflects your real skills and abilities? Does it have dumb items like how many years of experience do you have with checking temperatures? How do you answer that honestly? How can the manager interpret your answer? Does such stupidity  make you look good?

There are some other important issues with skills checklists that we hope you never run across. For example, if you are giving a deposition on a patient injury, a lawyer may tear you to shreds based on how you filled out your skills checklist. In such a situation, a skills list that allows you to honestly reflect your true abilities could be a career saver. 


June 26, 2008: All travelers and potential travelers have filled out these ubiquitous skills checklists for agencies. Most are reminiscent, at least for nurses, of bad tests in school. Many items that are incomprehensible, ambiguous, or cannot be answered honestly with any choice presented. Rating scales that are not representative of actual skills or experience.

So what? you might be thinking. Just more dumb paperwork that has to be slogged through.

But this dumb paperwork can be dangerous professionally. The most critical issue is medicolegal. Should you ever be involved as a traveler in a liability case, or a licensing board action, sooner or later the skills checklist associated with this assignment will be closely scrutinized, both for your entire skill set, and for any item directly related to the legal issue. Because of the bad construction of the skills checklist and self ranking, any check up or down on a bad item can prove disastrous.

Thus, a bad skills checklist has the potential to harm you financially, criminally, and professionally if it contributes to a bad legal outcome. There is no doubt that the risks of this are low, but no less true for that. And a facility who is looking for an excuse to terminate your contract can also use a skills checklist item to say that you misled or lied to them.

The immediate benefit of a good skills checklist is professional presentation and marketing. They are used by agencies to market you to hospitals. Picture how they are used by managers. Clinical managers have a stack of traveler profiles to look at which include the skills checklist. For the most part, they are not examined closely, just skimmed to see where the preponderance of of your self assessed skills lie, usually to the left or right on a scale. If they have special needs for strength in a particular area, they will try to locate that on the skills checklist and dig through hundreds of completely irrelevant items.

Agency checklists, as you know, can be up to 10 pages long. A manager, looking at a profile with a 10 page skills list, is likely going to put it at the bottom of the pile and look at better presented profiles. An ideal skills checklist is clearly formatted in a single page, with logical and useful items, with clear categories should closer scrutiny be required. If a manager can see your skill set at a glance presented in a professional manner, they are much more likely to feel good not only about you personally, but also about your agency. That increases your potential for getting the interview and advancing your career.

The Association's mission is to enhance our member's careers as travelers, and to improve conditions in the entire industry. This initiative to improve skills checklists is one building block of our mission. Currently, there are no excellent skills checklists out there. None! Pretty amazing that we have to save agencies from themselves.

Many agencies are already fine with travelers using their own skills checklists, and the Association plans to specifically identify both those agencies, and agencies who adopt using the Association designed skills checklists (as well as other "best practices", such as fair and well written contracts) to aid travelers seeking agencies. We will in fact encourage agencies to use Association skills checklists and will leave room on them for their logo.

We're looking for volunteers in every specialty, both nursing and allied health to help develop fresh cleanly written and presented skills checklists. There is room for all willing to put in a few minutes or hours. Please email us with your specialty and any questions. We can provide coordination and direct assistance for your specialty. The project is basically quite simple, although may take a bit of time. Look at existing skills lists, select good items, discard bad ones, add needed ones, and pare the whole thing down to 75 items or less and place items in relevant categories.

We have a good collection of existing agency skills checklists to send you. And a more specific set of criteria to guide your efforts. And, very exciting news, we have a technology sponsor who is donating time to create finished documents for us. The finished skills checklists will be available to all to download without charge, and volunteers who contributed their time will be credited. You will also receive the title of Professional Credentials Committee Member to enhance your resume.

Thanks in advance for any contributions to this effort! Email us at skills@pantravelers.org to get on board.