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A Nurse's Voice
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A Nurse’s Voice with Katelyn R. and Sharon R., RN

 

As our year comes to an end, we had two of our nurses interview to talk about their life as Travel Nurses, Katelyn and Sharon, and take time to answer some common questions about travel nursing and their experiences.

How did you find Travel Nurses, Inc.?

Katelyn R., RN: So I started with the company back in July 2020. My contract ended short my very first one, and so I was looking for a new company to start with I hoped on Google and ended up finding Travel Nurses, Inc. and really liked that it was nurse-owned and nurse operated. That was something that really stood out to me about it.

And so I ended up getting on with them and met Melissa, who I absolutely love and adore. She is amazing. I cannot say enough good things about her. And started what I really called my first “big girl” assignment. My very first assignment ever was kind of close to home. And so when I started with the company, my first assignment with them was in Brownsville, Texas, which was the farthest I’ve ever been away from home on my own, and like most people don’t know where it’s at.

It’s like two miles from the border of Mexico in the middle of nowhere in Texas. And Melissa warned me. I was like, Yeah, I know, it’ll be fine. And I wouldn’t go back like it was the best experience. Like I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. So yeah, I, I can’t say enough great things about the company and everywhere that I go, that’s like I talk about it constantly. Because that’s just one of those things that people ask if they’re either thinking about travel nursing, or they’ve got other travel nurses in the past where they have some there.

When I’m there, that’s one thing that I get asked like, who do you work for, and what do you love about your company? And I just can’t say enough good things about how great and supportive everybody in the company is and it helps just having an amazing recruiter. When I was in Texas, I travel with my cat and so she ended up getting really sick on this first big assignment and had to have emergency surgery Melissa was just, constantly would reach out like, how are you doing?

What can I do for you? Are you okay? Do you need anything? And then I ended up getting engaged two years ago and I got married this past December. And so all through that process, like Melissa was really good about listening to, I told I was like, you have to stay on me about things because like I’ve got so much going on.

Like I need, I need you to, like, remind me when stuff needs to be done and when I need to start thinking about new assignments and everything. And she was so great and so supportive through the whole process. The company as a whole was so supportive of the process. So I’m very grateful for just how amazing. All of. The company has been through all this.

How did you choose your specialty?

Sharon R., RN: I was on the floor. I worked, I’ve been a nurse since 1988 when I was 19 years old I started as an LPN in Rochester, Minnesota working straight nights and I ended up working a few years later, working with a guy whose name was Marvin. And we worked our schedules, mirrored each other, and he ended up going to surgery because he wanted to just have something different, and he was like you’d like it, you’d really really like it.

So I went and I shadowed and I’m like, this is kind of cool. You get to see inside people. You get to fix people. So in 2003, I transferred from working on the floor to working in the operating room and I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years. Now that I think of it in 1995 I got my R.N., I took my last it was a home study program.

And then you went and you tested out of the subjects. And I took my last test when my first daughter was nine days old. Yeah, it was crazy. When you think back, it’s like, Oh, my lanta. The things that you think are normal and you just do. I was only going to be a nurse for a little bit. I don’t know what I thought I was going to do, but here I am.

Katelyn R., RN: So I thought I wanted to do labor and delivery. I actually fell in love with labor and delivery. My mom is a nurse and her best friend from nursing school was an L&D nurse. And I took a summer in college and job, shadowed her for a few days, and absolutely fell in love. Can pinpoint the moment where I was like, okay, this is like nursing is what I need to do.

I was a history major at the time and I was like, all right, nursing is where I need to be. Like, this is what my calling is. And so going into nursing school, I really thought, I’m going to be a labor delivery nurse. This is going to be great. And then I did my ER clinicals and fell in love.

I love the pace. Everything is just so going go go. There’s no stop, you’re either feast or famine. And I liked that it was such a variety of things. So it wasn’t just helping somebody push a baby out every day or, you know, dealing with the same like five different ailments every day. I was getting such a variety of things. And when it came time to apply for jobs, I ended up applying for the E.R. at the hospital that I actually did my clinical at.

So I knew the group that I was going to be working with and really, really liked them. And so I never looked back. I like I said, love the pace. Love that its feast or famine, there’s you know, it’s either all or nothing. You get a little bit of everything. One minute you’re actually a couple of weeks ago I helped somebody give a birth first thing in the morning. So you’re delivering a baby, you’re fixing a gunshot wound, you’re wrapping an ankle. Like there’s no in-between and I absolutely love that.

How do you travel with your Husband?

Sharon R., RN: So we do the same contracts. Yes. That’s just one of the lucky, we’ve gotten really, really lucky to where the places that we have applied to, they’ve actually said yes, you both can work the same shift. Sometimes I don’t even see him. At work like they’re like where’s Chad? And I’m like, well I know he brought me. And he better not have left me… He’s here somewhere. It’s just depending on how big the operating rooms are, how many they have, we’ll go to work together.

And some days we don’t really see much of each other or some days we work with each other in the same room. It just depends on how things go. There are some facilities that don’t allow it, but that’s we don’t have to work together. Sometimes I prefer not to it.

How do you travel with your pet?

Katelyn R., RN: It has its challenges. She actually does really, really well though, we’ve actually gone all the way across the country. So I did an assignment in Arizona and she went with me there and I’m actually currently in New Hampshire and she’s up here with me. So I am based out of North Carolina. That’s where my home is. And so she’s been all over with me.

She does pretty well. The hardest part is getting into a carrier for that first little bit, but honestly, she does great. And so once we’re there and she sort of gets settled and figures everything out, she’s fine. She does really well in the car. In fact, like I normally let her out of her carrier, and she just sits on the center console.

As long as she can touch me, she’s good. And then as soon as I’m out of the car, she’s like, ok mom, where are you? Come back. So we sort of get it to where I do all the initial stops like I got to get gas, get food or whatever, she’s safe in the carrier. And then as soon as I’m ready to like really start rolling, I’ll let her out and she’s fine. It’s just the getting in and out of the carrier is the biggest issue.

What is it like traveling with your travel trailer?

Yeah, yeah. We have a fifth wheel that we live out of when we’re working. It’s easier for us as you age the packing and unpacking and packing and unpacking, that gets a little a little much sometimes. And you don’t really realize what you think you need with you or you need with you. And you’re like, oh, I didn’t bring that.

I’ll buy another one. Yeah. It’s so, it’s nice, it’s nice having our own home base and being able to live out of that instead of, you know, somebody else’s stuff, if you will. And I love to bake. So the front of our fifth wheel is a kitchen. And yeah, I take treats to work all the time.

I just. I don’t know, it’s just something that I’ve always done. And there’s no reason why I can’t still do it as a traveler, you know because when we go, we’re all a team. So that’s the way I look at it.

What is your favorite assignment location?

Katelyn R., RN: So I read this question and this is always a hard question for me because I feel like I learn so much about different areas but also about myself on each assignment. So for me, it’s sort of twofold because my favorite location as far as where I was, was probably Bullhead City, Arizona. I had never been that far west, so it was just a very different experience for me. And I actually drove out there. My husband and I drove out there.

And it was really cool to just see a new part of the country. And then it allowed me I’d never been to Vegas, I had never been to the Pacific Ocean. So he actually flew out to visit and we took a trip to Vegas and we drove to L.A. So it was really cool as far as being so close to so many different things.

And then I also feel like you have to factor in the groups of people that you meet too. And so my favorite as far as that goes would either be Alabama was really good. I was in Anniston, Alabama. I’m still really close and connected with a lot of people there. Actually found my wedding dress in Birmingham, which is just a really funny story.

I was all by myself when I got it, but I had to fly back to get my wedding dress. And so when I did for one of my fittings, I actually drove over to Anniston is about an hour from where I was staying and went back and visited at the hospital, and hung out with everybody there. So that’s probably one of my favorites as far as like the group of people that I’ve gotten to work with.

What advice do you have for new travelers?

Make sure that you know what you’re getting into, you don’t necessarily like in the operating room, and you won’t necessarily be put in the cases that you’re most comfortable with all the time. They expect you to know what you’re doing as you come in because they need help. That’s why they’re asking for travelers. Don’t act like you know what you’re doing and you don’t, because then that just frustrates the workers, it frustrates the doctors.

Be kind. Be helpful. If you’re not busy and someone else is, you lend a hand, don’t go hide, don’t go sit in the lounge or whatever. Just let them know that you’re there to help. And a lot of people get a little edgy sometimes with the travelers because they think that sometimes they think that we’re there to take their job.

I’m not there to take their job. I’m there to help them because that’s what their bosses have said. Hey, we need help. And it’s just, yeah, that’s why we’re there. I mean, lend a helping hand, and maybe educate people a little bit that are newer to the job and just give them some little tips and hints and things that make it just a little bit easier for them.

We’ve been traveling for, what, eight years now and I don’t foresee us stopping anytime soon unless my body doesn’t want to do it anymore. And that’s the fun thing about traveling too, is if you can trade and work your schedule. You can do little surprises. Like I got to surprise my girlfriend at her son’s first last college football game because he’s a senior this year. Just being able to do the little things extra with the traveling that gives you that little extra freedom.

How do you find a church while on assignment?

So this is actually the first assignment where I’ve tried a local church. And I’m sad that I haven’t done it more because I actually really love the church I’m going to up here. It’s actually really cool. For me, I get really nervous meeting new people, like as much as I love traveling and as fun as that is and as many people as I refer to the company and I feel like I fit in well in the groups that I meet with and different assignments, I get.

I have really bad social anxiety when it comes to meeting new people. Because I don’t feel like I’m going to fit in. And so trying new things is a big deal for me and my husband’s really good about encouraging me to do that. And when I’m up here by myself, he’s like, you really should do this or try this or whatever.

And so up here is actually the first time that I’ve been to a local church, and I’ve loved it. But what was a super big blessing for me that came out of COVID was that all churches ended up having to go online services. And so it’s really cool for me that my home church that my husband and I go to when I am back home doing an online service, and they have continued to do that.

And so I actually get that little piece of home every Sunday when I can get on, when I’m not working, and then during the week when I get to watch it, not like I get to sit and watch. And that was really cool. When both my husband and I were traveling was when we would have Sunday days off, he actually did an assignment in Ukraine.

That was his first assignment. And I was. Yeah, and so he was in Ukraine and I was here and then he’s been in the Virgin Islands when I’ve been here and we’ve been like worlds apart and able to get online and actually sit and watch church together at the same time and still have that connection back home. So that’s been really cool for us.

 

About the Author

Travel Nurses, Inc. is a leading travel nurse staffing agency that provides nurses with opportunities to find work across the country. Established by nurses for nurses, TNI has been in business since 1988 and has over 30 years of experience.

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