Hi and thanks for joining me in my travel nursing adventures. In this post I am going to tell you about who I am, where I’ve worked, and my future plans in travel nursing. If you are thinking about becoming a travel nurse, do it! The excitement of exploring new places, meeting new people, gaining new skills is 100% worth it.
I am going to summarize my past, present, and future history with nursing. Keep following for future posts about each experience and advice about all things travel nursing related.
My Nursing Journey
I have been a nurse since 2007. I was 23 years old when I graduated nursing school. I will let you do the math 😊. I started working in a surgical intensive care unit (SICU) immediately after graduating. It was an amazing place to learn and grow. I took advantage of every learning opportunity and jumped into critical care. I became a frequent preceptor (love to teach!), served on multiple committees, involved myself with the organ donation organization that serves the hospital, and made life long friends along the way. I worked my way towards my BSN online and eventually obtained it in 2014.
I knew I wanted to do travel nursing before I even graduated school. I loved the idea of getting paid to be able to see different areas of the country. The financial crisis of 2008 delayed my travel plans, but in retrospect there is no way I would have been prepared to travel after only 1 year of working in an ICU. The minimum amount of experience required is usually listed as one year. But I would urge you to stay at least 1-2 years post orientation to really have a strong grasp on your practice.
I eventually left my job in June of 2010. My roommate also worked in the ICU with me and she was joining me on my travels. It’s sometimes a bit of a challenge to find your first job. I found that hospitals wanted prior travel experience to prove that I was capable of completing a contract. You should understand that people flake all the time. Don’t be that person. Don’t leave an assignment or sign a contract and bail out last minute. It’s rude and very unprofessional. But- this is why hospitals want prior experience. Some hospitals will flex on this if they have few other applicant choices with experience. I will write a future entry on things you can do to try to offset this.
My First Travel Nursing Assignment
That being said, my roommate (Sarah) and I ended up in a rough hospital in the South Bronx in New York City. We were both from Albany, NY and wanted to do our first assignment relatively close to home (mostly because we had boyfriends in Albany, *eye roll*). Boston had no jobs and other Manhattan hospitals were stringent on requiring travel experience.
In short, the hospital was a disaster. We were supposed to work critical care float pool, but mostly ended up working in the medical ICU. A future entry will include a full description about my first travel experience and things I did to help myself adjust. It was my first time working nights, and my first time working in such an underserved area. This unique experience gave me some great tools for travel nursing and certainly didn’t stop me from taking future assignments.
Travel Nursing Jobs Across the Country
I then bought a Honda CRV (I had sold my small Camry to live in New York City), and we packed it full of stuff and started driving to our next assignment in Los Angeles. This was September 2010. We made quite an adventure of it and I will include a future post about that journey. It was 10 days of pure joy and sparked my passion for cross country road trips.
Thankfully we found day positions at a Kaiser hospital in Los Angeles. If you have never heard of Kaiser, you will as soon as you start looking for jobs in any state where they are a major presence. We met other travelers here that were our age and took advantage of living in LA. All I can say- the traffic stories are true.
We spent three months living it up in LA and then dashed back to Albany NY to return to our staff jobs….and boyfriends. We went back to the SICU that we had left just six months prior. I really wish I would have kept traveling then- even though I have had some awesome opportunities in Albany.
I stayed in SICU from January 2011 until October of 2014. In the mean time I started working part time as a flight nurse. I mostly worked in helicopters. I left in October to try travel nursing again in New York City because my sister had an apartment there. She agreed to let me sleep on her futon and pay her minimal rent- which would mean I would bank a lot of money. Well, once again I had an unfortunate experience in New York City. Ultimately, I was hired onto a med surg unit and was told it was critical care. I certainly was not, nor have I ever been, a med surg nurse. I give you med surg and step-down nurses credit! I can’t imagine 5 patients. At this point, 3 is difficult for me.
That assignment didn’t last long. I will include the story of my suffering and the demise of the contract in a future post. Thankfully, the medevac company was able to hire me full time and I didn’t have to go long without a full-time job.
I worked as a flight nurse and picked up a part time critical care float pool job at the hospital I had left the year before. I worked my tail off and ended up quitting both of my jobs and going to Europe for 10 weeks. Best decision of my life. But- I needed to have a plan after my travels in Europe.
Travel Nursing Jobs Near Home
This is when I thought that maybe I wanted to live closer to where I grew up, near family. I took an assignment in northern Massachusetts in a small urban hospital. Let me tell you- the heroin crisis is real in the northeast. My patients’ addictions ranged in severity and it was an eye-opening experience. I worked nights again and met some truly amazing nurses. I am so thankful for this experience.
I took a few months off after that assignment. I went to Cuba, and I organized a road trip with my sister (she was moving to Mexico) to Houston for my next assignment. I chose Houston so that I could spend time with a cousin that lives there and share living expenses with her.
Texas Travel Nursing Jobs
I worked in a level I hospital in downtown Houston in a medical ICU. I really thought I was going to stay there longer than 3 months, but it just wasn’t my scene. Again, I met some really great people that are still in my life. There were a lot of other travelers at this hospital and we had a great support system going.
I left Houston for a 6 week road trip home, including a 3 week stop in Lake Tahoe to see the RN friend that I traveled with to New York City and Los Angeles. My brother flew to Tahoe and we slayed the road trip home. We made some killer stops- I could write a whole post about each one. I will most definitely include a post of road tripping with a relative.
I really like to take advantage of time off in between assignments 😊. This was a great choice and left me wanting more travel nursing in the future.
Back to Reality…
I decided I needed to go back to a staff job for some personal reasons and to bank some overtime shifts, to come up with my life plan. Fortunately, my “home job” in Albany was willing to have me back, let me work days, and always has copious amounts of OT available. I have been here since July 2017 and have almost achieved the goals I set.
Travel Nursing Jobs are Calling My Name Again!
My roommate and I are leaving at the end of July 2019 for a epic road trip and to start travel nursing again. I will be documenting my application process- victories and struggles. I am also building a camper van for our month-long road trip (I really love road trips) prior to beginning an assignment.
We hope to start travel nursing in Colorado. We are also looking at working in Seattle or Portland. Our goal is to be in an area we can really enjoy. Work becomes a side note when you are travel nursing. Because, while going to work and meeting great people is fun, exploring new areas and planning amazing vacations in between jobs is way more enjoyable than actual nursing work. 😉