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A Nurse’s Voice: David Roe, RN


In this month’s, A Nurses Voice, Travel Nurses, Inc. interviewed David Roe, RN. David tells us about beginning his nursing career later in life, loving ICU and Burn Unit, and juggling a family of 8! He also touches on his experience in being in management during the pandemic then shifting to a travel nurse.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: Hey. How are you?

David Roe, RN: Hey, there I am. I’m good. How are you?

Travel Nurses, Inc.: Good, good. I’m so glad you’re able to come on and join me today. I appreciate that.

David Roe, RN: Absolutely. No problem. Madison asked me if I’d mind doing it, and it’s not my favorite thing to do, but sure, why not?

Travel Nurses, Inc.: I understand. I understand.

David Roe, RN: It’s more because I’m trying to chase a two year old around the house, too, so.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: Yeah.

David Roe, RN: He might pop into frame here just any minute.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: It’s okay. It’s OK. No problem at all. We’ll just get started. I sent you over the questions and. Yes, stuff like that. So the first one is basically what inspired you to become a nurse?

David Roe, RN: Oh, wow. Well, I actually got started in nursing kind of late in life. I didn’t actually become a nurse, so I was, I think about 30 years old. I had worked in law enforcement before, and my first degree is actually in criminal justice. So with that first degree in criminal justice and I don’t know, I just, you know, I’ve always been kind of fascinated with the medical field. And obviously, you know, same reason. I guess everybody as they get into nursing, they like helping people and you know, and, you know, it’s just something I’m kind of good at. You know, I’ve always been kind of a caretaker and taking care of people and why not get paid for it. So I mean. Here I am 17 years later, still doing it. Yeah.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: I was going to say, you’ve been an RN since 2005. So what made you choose the ICU as your specialty? And have you always worked for ICU or.

David Roe, RN: No, actually, when I when I first got out of nursing school, well, I was in nursing school my fourth level. I did a you know, you kind of go your last level in nursing school. You kind of go to the area that you think best suits you that you would want to do. And I did my last level in the burn unit and at a local level, one trauma center here in town. And I loved it. I mean, I was I was hooked from the get go. I just I love that kind of nursing. It’s such a specialty. And, you know, I’ve always been one to do things that nobody else really wanted to do and nobody really likes, you know, burn nursing is either one of those things you just do.

Absolutely no way. There’s no way in the world I’m going to do that or you know, you love it and I loved it. And so, you know, during nursing school, that’s what I do. This is what I’m doing. This is my calling. So when I graduated from nursing school, they didn’t have any positions up. And so I took a position in the ER at one of our local ERs here.

And you know, as luck would have it, about two weeks into my position in the air or the air here, I got a call from the burn unit. Hey, we got a position open. I’ve already committed to two years with the air, so I’m kind of stuck. But so I did ER for two years, then went to the ICU and i’m just kind of an adrenaline junkie.

You know,  I like I like sick patients. I mean, i want I want to sick patients, I want to take care of the sickest ones you have. Let me have it. You know, that’s that’s what i want to do. I feel like I perform pretty well under pressure. You know, it’s just it’s just always been, you know, it’s been exciting to me.I like thinking on my feet. I like thinking I’m on the go, you know, figuring things out. So ICU was was suited for that, you know?

Travel Nurses, Inc.: Yeah. So if a burn unit contract came up, would you want to go do that after?

David Roe, RN: Yeah, I’ve always said that I’ll probably end up back at the burn unit at some some way, shape or form. You know, I it’s it’s something that you know, I like I like doing and I like taking care of our own patients. Yeah. You know, it’s, it’s one of those specialties, you know, that the burn unit that I worked at, you know, you take care of these people from the onset of injury to the time they walk out of the hospital.

So you see them all the way through you know, the different, different phases of care and, you know, the rehab, you know, the whole nine yards and, you know, where’s, you know, doing the doing just regular ICU nursing. I mean, you might take care of a patient for a week or two and come back to work and they’re gone.

And you never know what happens. You know, what happens to them. So with burn nursing, you can actually watch your patient get better. You know, of course, you’d have them for a long time. I mean, you’d you’d have a serious a severe burn. You’d have probably up to six months, you know, in the hospital. So it’s kind of kind of cool to watch, you know, be a part of their, you know, getting better, better experience. So.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: Yeah, well, I know from what I understand on the burn unit, it’s like it’s pretty it’s pretty tough, like cleaning. Yeah. It’s got to be hard to like, you know, see them in that much pain, right. On a regular basis.

David Roe, RN: It is. It’s, you know, it’s every bit as bad as you think it is. You know, it’s it’s, you know, we, we we can we can give them pain medicine, but you can’t ever really you can take the edge off, but you can’t you can’t, you know, fully get rid of the kind of pain that they experience. And, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s a necessary evil of the job.

You know, you take them, you take them, to their, it’s called hydrotherapy, where you take them in and wash them down. You degrade the breed, the dead skin. And it’s it’s pretty brutal. It’s pretty brutal. On the patient, you know, but like I said, it’s it’s a necessary evil. It’s something they have to get done to get better, you know, so that it gets better. For them, you know, down on it. You know, it’s they as they begin to heal, it gets a lot easier.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: And so I know that’s got to be super tough. So what do you do on your days off, you know, to help take care of yourself like mentally and physically?

David Roe and his familyDavid Roe, RN: Well, I have six kids, so I don’t know if I ever mentally get a break. Yeah. Between my wife and I, we have six kids. She had three. I had two and we have one together. So but no I oh, you know,  I like to work out, you know, I’m, I’m pretty busy, you know, I try to go every day to, to work out and keep my, keep my body in shape because I have a two year old I have to chase around up 46 and I’ve got a two year old.

So I’ve got to stay in pretty good shape to chase him around. But yeah, you know, my kids, they keep us busy, you know, during the fall, I’ve got, I’ve got, you know, two of my boys play high school football and then I’ve got, you know, my oldest son plays college football. So, you know, our weekends in the fall are pretty busy.

And then my my daughter’s I’ve got one daughter to dances and I’ve got one daughter that does competitive cheer. So, you know, we were never lacking for things to do . Yeah, we’re we’re pretty busy, but I like to you know, as far as me personally, like I said, I like to work out. But I, you know, I try to hunt.

And I’m I’m an avid outdoorsman. I love being outside, I love being in the woods. Yeah. You know, hunting and, and stuff like that. So whenever I have time, whenever I don’t have a kid function to go to.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: It definitely does fit in to the, in the fall when you’re trying to deer hunt and got all these games.

David Roe, RN:
You got kids games. Yeah. You know, my son, he’ll he’ll play, you know, 8 hours away, you know, and I don’t miss games.David Roe at his son's game I go to all of them. So yeah, I stay pretty busy in the fall.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: Yeah. Yeah, that sounds busy. I mean, at least you’re keeping yourself busy.  I mean, that’s good. So what made you decide to get into trouble nursing? Because you, you were just an RN and then you went into travel nursing. Have you always.

David Roe, RN: Traveling? Yeah, I actually I. I worked at the bedside for ten years in the burn unit, ER burn unit, you know, and I worked at the, the, the level one trauma center here in town and, you know, I’d float to SI, I’d float to and I’ve done, I’ve worked all the ICUs in some capacity.

I’ve done just a little bit of everything I’ve done from home health. I’ve done OR but mostly, you know, it’s been ICU stuff so well I got into management, I was a supervisor in the burn unit for two years and, and I like that, that was, that was a fun, you know, pretty cool job house and then did that for two years.

And then I went into management, I managed three units, I had the burn unit, I had a CC step down unit and I had a, had the pediatric ICU and I did that for about a year and I just like this, this is, this just isn’t me. I’m, you know, I felt like I was pretty good at it, but I’m not they sit behind a desk kind of dude.

I mean, I’ve got to be up moving. I’ve got to be up doing things. I like being at the bedside. Like, I just felt like I was, you know, pulled away from something that I was really good at, you know? I mean, I just felt, you know, not necessarily lost that I felt like, you know, not necessarily my calling, I loved my nurses.

I had the best nurses. You know, we you know, because I started managing right at the beginning of the pandemic. So you know, I’m sure that had a lot to do with my stress levels. But, you know, my nurses that I had with were the best. We our units constantly ranked, you know, highest and in, you know, different areas that we can you know, that they were they were graded on.

David Roe, RN: But anyway, so to answer your question, I did management for a year and I was just like, I’m just ready to do something different. You know, the pandemic was at its high and, you know, travel nursing was kind of all the rage at the time. I said, I’m just I’m ready to do it. I’m ready to get ready to get out from under a hospital.And just get to do my thing.

So I, I took off is about this time last year, February of last year, I took my first assignment in Dallas and loved it and have loved it ever since. And, you know, I don’t think I’ll ever go back out. Well, I never say never, but I feel like I probably won’t ever go back to being a staff nurse again.

I mean, I love of traveling freedom. A lot of, you know, obviously the money’s good, you know, but it’s, you know, one of those things that I just really enjoy. And it’s been good for us. It’s been good for my family. So in them, it’s and I’ve had my my wife my family’s been super supportive of me. You know, there’s there’s no way I could do this without them, you know, because like I said, we have six kids, you know, and I’m I’m away from home a lot, you know, and, you know, I had to, you know, tell my wife and I had a lot of a lot of long talks before this happened.And she was all for it. She’s supported me every step of the way. So it’s worked out good.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: So your family stays home while you go travel?

David Roe and his wifeDavid Roe, RN: Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s too much. When I was in Dallas, they would come over, you know, because Dallas was like 3 hours away from my house. And so and my brother in law lives over in Dallas, so they could come over there and visit with him as well. But, you know, during school, with school going on and my wife is a nurse as well. So she has the job. And it’s just, you know, I try to come home when I can, you know, to see them.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: Yeah, yeah. So what made you choose Travel Nurses, Inc. as your agency? How did you hear about us?

David Roe, RN: I think Travel Nurses, Inc., they chose me I think I was actually on, I think, I was on assignment in Dallas when I first heard from Maddie. Maddie called me and I think  I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll fill out an application with you guys or it was just, you know, luck of the draw, you know, because I’ll get I’ll get stuff from agencies all day, every day, you know, about different assignments, you know, and I’m like, I don’t know who I am.

She she reached out to me. She called me and you know, she and I, we talked and, you know, we’ve hit it off since day one. I mean,  she’s been awesome through this whole process. So when I got back from Dallas, we tried to do something, and I don’t know if it fell through or there was nothing really available.

I don’t remember what happened, but I ended up taking like a six week contract with another company. And, you know, I told her, I said, I want to work with you. But I’ve got to have a job right now. And there just wasn’t anything available. And she called me about the end of that contract that I was on and said, hey, we’ve got something available if you want to if you want to do it.

So anyway, it’s been we’ve had a good relationship since I started work for you guys, I guess back in September of last year, August or September of last year. And, you know, it’s it’s been great. I mean, Maddie’s great. She’s she’s always available to me. And, you know, she checks in on me.

You know, if I have a question, you know, she’s she’s right there for me to give her a call. You know, we’ve we’ve really, you know, developed a pretty good, pretty good friendship through all this.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: Yeah, She’s great.

David Roe, RN: But the company as a whole has been great. I mean, you guys have been awesome. I mean, it’s been you know, it’s been you guys have been very easy to work with and very accommodating and, you know, it’s it’s been a good experience. I told Maddie, I said, you’re not you’re not getting rid of me anytime soon.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: We’ll keep you will.

David Roe, RN: Yeah. Yeah, right. So but yeah, I’ve enjoyed it. I sure have.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: That’s great. As a seasoned nurse, I mean, you’ve been in this a while, you know? What do you think travel, nursing and nursing in general will look like in five years from now?

David Roe, RN: So my you know, I think nursing in general, you’re you’re starting to see a shift of more nurses do travel nursing. I mean, it’s you know, you can’t really talk to nurses anywhere that, you know, my goal is to ultimately travel you know, that’s what they tell you. And I think that, you know, if if there was one good thing that came out of the pandemic, I think it it allowed nurses to see their work.

You know, as far as, you know, what what they what they deserve to be paid. You know, I mean, if a mechanic can charge me $100 an hour to fix my truck, why can’t I make that to save a life? You know, so I think that the pandemic really opened a lot of nurses eyes, you know, and, you know, hey, I’m I’m finally getting paid what I’m worth.

And and, you know, I’m not knocking hospitals. I know that they’ve got a you know, they’ve got to do it. They got to make money, too. But, you know, as a manager, you know, in dealing with with agency nurses, when I was a manager and dealing with my full time staff, you know, I always advocated for my nurses.

You know, I want my nurses to if you would pay my nurses half of what you paid an agency nurse, you would keep them. Yeah. But, you know, it’s not willing to do that. And nurses see that and they’re going to go after the money we have now. They’re going to go after the dollar. And I really think that you’re going to see a greater shift of of staff nurses doing this and which is going to put the hospitals in a bind.

But, you know, kind of brought it on themselves. You know, I mean, I hate to say that, but, you know, it’s I think that, you know, as far as the pandemic goes, you know, you’re going to see, you know, peaks and valleys with this thing. It’s going to get good and then it’ll get bad again. And then you know, and it’s always going to be good for nurses, you know, for them.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: Plenty of patients to take care of first.

David Roe, RN: Plenty of patients take care of. They’ll always be sick. People always be sick. And I think what you’reDavid Roe and his youngest son seeing now is, is nurse or hospital, at least the hospital I’m at now, you know, they’re needing nurses not because of a pandemic. I mean, our pandemic numbers are COVID numbers are low to nonexistent right now.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: Yeah.

David Roe, RN: But they’re needing people just because they don’t have staff. I mean, they’re full time staff is like, you know, they’re either traveling or burnout or retired or, you know, it’s they’re just, you know, they need any travelers because they don’t have anybody, you know.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: That’s tough.

David Roe, RN: Yeah.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: Hey, but. Yeah. We appreciate you guys. We appreciate the nurses and everything that they all do. It’s so hard. It’s so tough. Especially during the pandemic. Like, I can’t even imagine, like, all the things you had to deal with.

David Roe, RN: Right. If it was, you know, it was it was tough. And like I said, for most of the pandemic, you know, I was in management. I really wasn’t at the bedside. But I did go to the bedside for me as a manager to help my nurses, you know, just because they were just overwhelmed, you know, and I go out there and help them a little bit. But it was I was actually travel nursing during the second wave of the pandemic. It was Omicron. I don’t remember.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: Yeah I think that is what is was called.

David Roe, RN: And that that was tough. Like,I, you know, I lost close friends, you know, to, to the virus, you know, I mean, I think that that one was a little tougher because you saw some the it was the younger population that was being affected so much, you know, and there’s just, you know, you go in every day I mean, and, you know, I work in agency, I work three days a week.And, you know, the next week I’d go in and it’d be a whole new, whole new unit of patients because everybody had died, you know, that was in there before. And so it it was it takes a toll on you. You know, it’s because you’re in there and you’re you’re there’s nothing you can do. And it just it’s it’s you know, you’re given everything you got and, you know, it’s it’s all futile.You know, you know, you know, the end result is going to be, you know, the patient cycle make it so pretty tough.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: Yeah, that’s awful. But I mean, yeah, all they all do in travel, nurses ain’t like we’re here. We want to support you all. And it’s just, I, I can’t even imagine, so, I mean.

David Roe, RN: Yeah.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: Yeah. I mean, we, I sympathize, but I don’t, I don’t know, like to be in your shoes, you know? So. Yeah, it’s tough, but we appreciate you.

David Roe, RN: And, like, you guys have been great. I mean, that, you know, Maddie’s she’s she’s been awesome and you know, the company, you know, from HR to, you know, everybody that i’ve dealt with at Travel Nurses, Inc. has just been phenomenal. I mean, just top notch, you know, and, you know, I have no complaints. I’m I do a lot of recruiting for you guys. I’ll try to send people send you nurses your way all the time.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: That’s all I have for you today.

Travel Nurses, Inc.
Yeah. Well, I appreciate you coming on and, you know, getting better and working working with me so that you can get in.

David Roe, RN: Yeah. But I’m just glad he did good. You so much else behind me right now watching is his iPhone, so I’m just glad he cooperated.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: Yeah. Okay, well, thank you so much. We’ll talk to soon.

David Roe, RN: You are very welcome.

Travel Nurses, Inc.: Thank you.

David Roe, RN: Have a good day.

About the Author

Hi! I'm Megan. I grew up just outside Memphis and went to the University of Memphis, where I got my bachelor's degree in Communications. Photography is one of my passions, as is anything creative. I also love being involved in my church. I love traveling and seeing new things. I'm so glad that this job allows me to learn and grow in Marketing along with understanding the healthcare world. Spending time with family and friends is essential to me, and I feel truly blessed to have such a great support system.

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