Festival Nursing: For The Love Of Music
by Mariam Yazdi, RN
What happens when you combine health care and the music industry?
Well, a lot of wonderful things and a lot of scary things. But putting that aside, let’s talk music festivals. Specifically, working at one – as a nurse!
Nurses have had a wide range of experiences; from a mellow time to a pretty wild ride. Depending on what kind of festival you work, you will encounter people in all kinds of states: dehydrated, overheated, intoxicated or high on recreational drugs.
In worst case scenarios, there may be a drug laced with life-threatening chemicals that are circulating around the festival, causing many people to need emergency assistance and transfer. In lighter cases, you are rehydrating sunbaked festival goers or picking bugs out from their eyes. And all with a backdrop of bands playing for the crowds.
Event nursing is a cool way for you to put your medical skills into practice. And if you are a nurse looking to participate in music festivals from coast to coast, we've got some information for you.
How It Works
Music festivals will typically contract a medical team to provide medical and emergency care during the festival or event. Sometimes the local EMS service will be hired, and other times festivals will vendor a specialized event medicine company like JamCare or CrowdRx.
How to Apply
If you are looking to work at a festival, try contacting the hiring or volunteering department for the festival you're interested in and inquire about their medical services. They may be open to giving you the information on the contracted medical team, so you can begin the conversation. You may also try contacting your local EMS company or other similar services to see if they are hiring nurses for the event.
Volunteers vs. Staff and What It Pays
Some festivals or medical contractors will bring you on as a volunteer, in which case you do not get paid and you may be performing a lot of tasks that non-medical staff does. At others, you may be hired for pay, which may vary from a per hour scenario to a flat rate for the day. Some nurses have found festivals where the contracted medical team pay an hourly rate at or even a bit higher than the local hospitals. When a flat rate is paid, the pay rate can range from $40 to $100 for a set number of hours (usually 4 to 8). In addition, to pay, some festivals may thank you by giving you a free ticket to their second-day or second-weekend event. Others may give you access to the festival when you are finished with your shift.
What You Do and Where You Work
This will entirely depend on the medical team you work for. If you are hired as an RN, you may be starting IVs to address dehydration or medication administration. If you are hired as a volunteer, you may be doing simple tasks that a non-medical professional is qualified to do. You’ve seen the medical tents at festivals, right? Some are big and elaborate, with multiple cots and are temperature controlled. Others are modest and have basic care supplies on hand. Some nurses have reported patrolling bigger festivals in golf carts, to provide onsite care to the attendees if needed.
Things to remember:
- Always practice within your license and within the confines of your hired role at the festival. Before you head out there, review any practice liability the medical team may provide.
- Your priority is the patients, not the music. Enjoy the festival when you’re done with your shift!
- The assignment may be mellow, or it may be intense. Attending to patients who are experiencing a bad recreational drug reaction can be frightening; even to those not having the experience. Check out this JamCare article on how to create a safe space for people who under the influence at a festival.
- Bring sunscreen, water, and snacks – for yourself! Working a festival can be just as exhausting as going to one. Remember to care for yourself, so you can be of help to those around you.
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