I wish I could say I became a travel nursing because of a desire to help others. That has truly been a bonus that I didn’t realize was going to be a part of this job when I decided to make the choice to become a nurse. The truth is I was a very young mother, married and divorced by the time I was 23 and I had a family to support. I come from a small town that doesn’t have a lot of job opportunities and I was looking for a job that would provide some stability for me and my family. I wanted a job that I could take anywhere, that I could go anywhere with and that would always be there. I wanted to do something I could be proud of and do something that not everybody could do. So, I became a nurse! And 16 years later, I still love being a nurse, even more so than ever before. Especially now that I’ve been traveling and seeing other nurses, this was a good step that I needed in my career.
~Stephanie, ICU, RN
Interviews with Travel Nurses: Stephanie C. ICU RN
Travel nursing has brought back my love of nursing.
In this week’s issue of “Interviews with Travel Nurses” we’d like to introduce you to one of our ICU RNs, Stephanie C. who came to us with a whopping 16 years of nursing experience and is currently on her 2nd travel nursing contract. Hear about how she first tried travel nursing 13 years ago and thought it wasn’t for her, how she tried it again this past year and grew skills she didn’t even know she had, what her experience working covid has been, and her advice for nurses thinking about traveling for the first time.
What was the inspiration that led you to choose a career in nursing?
I wish I could say it was the desire to help others. That has truly been a bonus that I didn’t realize was going to be a part of this job when I decided to make the choice to become a nurse. The truth is I was a very young mother, married and divorced by the time I was 23 and I had a family to support. I come from a small town that doesn’t have a lot of job opportunities and I was looking for a job that would provide some stability for me and my family. I wanted a job that I could take anywhere, that I could go anywhere with and that would always be there. I wanted to do something I could be proud of and do something that not everybody could do. So, I became a nurse! And 16 years later, I still love being a nurse, even more so than ever before. Especially now that I’ve been traveling and seeing other nurses, this was a good step that I needed in my career.
Why did you make the switch from staff nursing to travel nursing?
I had tried to be a travel nurse early on in my career, but things were a little different then. This was about 13 years ago. It didn’t work out. At that time I was required to shell out a bunch of money for licenses, travel to places for testing, had a recruiter that didn’t really listen to me so I kinda got burnt on the idea and walked away.
But travel nursing has always been something I’ve wanted to try because I love to see new places, experience different things, see how things work in different areas, basically I love to travel. And – I love to be challenged. So one year ago, I decided to give this travel nursing thing another try.
I had been in the same hospital for 9 years and I felt like I was in a rut. Personally, and professionally. I was losing focus, I was getting too callous and needed to get out of my comfort zone. I was stagnant for so long, fidgety and unhappy and I forgot that there was more I could do some place else.
Traveling has brought back my love of nursing and reminded me why I’m proud to do what I do.
Around the same time, we got the first wave of covid– so I didn’t immediately jump straight into travel nursing. At that time, we didn’t really know a lot about covid-19 and I have a mother with leukemia and my husband is immune compromised with diabetes so I didn’t want to put either one of them at risk by running off and taking on a covid assignment.
But I was definitely interested. Later in the year I started getting text messages about travel nursing opportunities, and started feeling like as an ICU nurse, I needed to be doing more. The hospital I was in was known as a “clean” hospital. So, all the covid patients where being sent elsewhere. So, my husband and I talked and we both agreed: now was the time to see what travel nursing was all about and do what I could to help with what we now know as the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Through this past year I’ve learned that nurses are incredible, very strong individuals. What we were all experiencing was just so incredibly sad. Some of the nurses I worked with, where brand new nurses, straight out of school, and it was very difficult for them, especially given what was happening. You kind of go into nursing with these rose-colored glasses and this idea that you’re going to save everybody, including in the ICU. And it’s really difficult to come to the realization that you don’t always have that power. But on the flip side – you realize you do have the power to touch people’s lives, even if you can’t save all of them. Being able to do this – feels really empowering.
Handling the Grief of Working Covid-19: I have a great faith that there is a reason for everything, and while I may not understand that reason, I can find the strength to move through it, do what I can do to make it better for those involved, to help them process it and accept it and accept that I am only one person in a very large picture and that there’s a reason for this and that everything that we experience has a lesson and makes us stronger. We will come out on the other side.
What has your experience with Next Move been like?
It’s been great. I love my recruiter. Danielle Adkisson is fabulous. I love the fact that she’s a nurse and has worked in some of the same hospitals she was suggesting I work in. She kind of gives a different perspective, more the perspective that I, as a nurse needed.
My old recruiter at my other travel nurse agency was great as well, but she wasn’t a nurse. So whenever I’d ask questions like:
“How does that hospital treat their travel nurses? “
“What’s the hospital like?”
The response would be: “Well, I’m getting good reports.”
Danielle has more of an inside feel for how things work at these hospitals so I know exactly what to expect. I can talk to her plainly, tell her what I want and I don’t have to mince words because as an RN, she gets it, and that’s been really refreshing. She’s also very upfront and honest with me. She’ll say “I’d stay away from XYZ hospital because this has been the experience of other nurses” or “I’ve worked at this hospital and this was my experience.” I feel like she really has my back, and truly listens to me. This has all been a really good experience for me.
In my current assignment I’m treated very well. My hospital has a lot of experience bringing in travel nurses. In fact, most of the people I work with are travel or float pool nurses, so we’re all in the same situation. I feel very respected and listened to at this hospital. I can be upfront with my managers about things like being asked to do something I haven’t been trained to do, and they listen and take care of it.
Knock on wood, I’ve never had an assignment where I’ve been disrespected or treated poorly. I think, especially these days, staff nurses know that travel nurses are just there to help. To take care of patients, reduce the patient to provider ratio and make everyone’s life easier.
I did have a staff nurse once made a snide comment about how much money I was making and I very politely informed her that this was a free country, and she could just as easily become a travel nurse like I did.
The opportunity to travel nurse is there to any nurse that willingly wants to do it. I had to leave behind two kids (ages 10 & 13) and a husband to complete my last assignment. But that’s what I needed to do at that time, for my family and for myself. I’m very lucky because my husband and my family are very supportive of my traveling career.
Is there anything Next Move could have done better?
I really feel like they went above and beyond. Danielle really had my back when there were contract issues. She wasn’t afraid to go to bat for me and I felt like I had support. I was really nervous, because this was only my 2nd assignment, and on my first assignment I didn’t make any stipulations. I just showed up and said “I’ll do what you want me to do.” With this one, I had a little experience so I had a lot more to say and Danielle was very willing to wait on the right place for me and very willing to stand up for me and say “No, this isn’t going to work for my traveler.” I’ve been very pleased.
Where was your first travel assignment and what did you learn from that experience?
My first travel nurse assignment was with another travel nurse agency where I took an assignment in New Jersey. I didn’t see my family for 2 months. It wasn’t easy. The way that they scheduled me didn’t leave me enough time to fly back to see my family once in those 2 months. I never had more than 2 days off in a row. I wasn’t experienced enough as a travel nurse to know to ask for block scheduling. Or a better schedule that would accommodate me visiting my family while on assignment. Lesson learned.
This is my second travel nursing assignment which I heard about through NurseFly (currently Vivian). I was working an assignment in New Jersey, thinking about my next assignment and one of the nurses I worked with asked me if I had heard about NurseFly and I was like “No, what’s that?”
NurseFly is a travel nursing site where different agencies list their jobs. You get a pretty full picture of what’s available. Where all the jobs are, how much they pay and I was like “fabulous!” One thing I hated the most in looking for travel nursing work was not knowing the details of each assignment. Am I going for the location? Am I going for the pay? Nursefly made it easy to decide where I wanted to go.
I was looking for a local assignment in the Missouri/Kansas area because when I was on assignment in New Jersey I didn’t get to see my family for 2 months and I still have two young kids. Next Move had the jobs and the location I was looking for.
How has nursing changed over the last year as a result of COVID?
There’s been a lot of change in nursing. A lot of staff nurses, that have been doing nursing for a while, started at the beginning of the pandemic saying to themselves: “I’m in this for the long-haul” are now turning around and saying: “Nope, this isn’t for me anymore…I have to do something different.” I think nurses are re-evaluating why they got into nursing to begin with, and seeing that it doesn’t match up to this rose-colored idea of what they thought nursing was. Nursing isn’t pretty. I’ve also seen a lot of young nurses burnout really quickly during this past year and older nurses keep on trucking. I think we’ve come together as one group of nurses, supporting each other a lot more these days. The older nurses used to have an “eat your young” kind of mentality, now they are acting as mentors to younger nurses saying things like “we can get through this.” As trying as this past year has been, I’ve seen a lot of strength come out of this.
What do you see changing in the coming year for travel nurses?
I think we’re going to continue to see more travel nurses going to the places that need help and more nurses helping other nurses. We’ve all definitely stepped up and done what’s needed to be done. When one unit is short, another unit will help out. When one nurse is overwhelmed with patients, another nurse will take extra patients. I see us all really supporting each other in the coming year as this pandemic continues.
As a former staff nurse – I remember what we used to think about travel nurses – and how we’d give them the “crappy” assignments. But I’ve seen that attitude change. Because these places, these hot spots of covid, really are in need of help. And every member of the staff is just appreciative when travel nurses come in and provide some relief. I literally, like once a day, hear: “We’re so grateful that you’re here.”
It’s no more “Oh, you’re just traveling for the money” or “You’re taking our bonuses.” Now it’s like: “There’s an extra body here to take patients and we need the help.” I think we’re going to continue to see this for a while as these hot spots move and pop up.
It’s good to be a traveler. It’s still a little stressful to be in a place you don’t know, with people you don’t know, and with people that don’t trust you. You don’t always get the sickest patients, but you may get the most difficult. But I really feel at the end of the day, I’m appreciated and that helps me to get through it.
Do you have any advice for a nurse considering traveling for the first time?
Be honest with yourself about your reasons for becoming a travel nurse. Be honest with what to expect because it’s not always easy. There are going to be trust issues, and resentment issues, even in the best of assignments. Also be honest with what you need in the assignment and don’t be afraid to ask for it. Remember that as a nurse, you have skills to offer and those skills shouldn’t be undervalued. So don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and expect it.
I will say this too: Traveling has brought a newfound confidence in myself as a person and as a nurse. Before I started traveling, I was sort of in a rut and had lost some of my confidence. I feel like reaching for this – becoming a travel nurse –- has given me a new sense of empowerment. I’ve been in difficult situations: a place I don’t know, people I don’t know and I *still* provided excellent patient care and I made new friends on that first assignment – the latter of which has always been a little difficult for me.
Travel nursing is just, overall, a very empowering experience.
Travel Nursing Tips for Travel Nurses
How to Make a Travel Nurse Resume + A Real-Life Sample Resume
How to Pay Off Your BSN in Just Over One Year
Top 10 Toughest Travel Nurse Interview Questions (and Answers!)
Top 6 Nursing Side-Hustles
Top 19 Mobile Apps for NursesHow to Find Furnished Short-Term Housing
What is Block Scheduling?
Travel Nurse Salary: Top 3 Ways to Make the Most Money
Travel Nurse Qualifications: What Paperwork Do You Need?
Travel Nurse Contracts: How to Avoid Cancellations
Travel Nurse Benefits: Health Insurance & 401(k)
Travel Nursing Testimonials
Started traveling simply because she wanted to make more money.
Started travel nursing to take control of life and boost her mental health.
Tried travel nursing 16 years ago and didn’t like. See what changed her mind.
Chose travel nursing so she could take as much time off as she wanted.
Med/Surg RN with 4-years’ experience. Her tips for nurses new to travel
Stayed with her hospital when covid hit. After 8-months started travel nursing
Started traveling the second she got 2-years nursing experience
They cut her pension – so she quit and started travel nursing
Got Travel Nursing Questions?
Did we miss anything? Do you still have questions about travel nursing? Give us a call (or shoot us an email) today and one of our dedicated team members would be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Next Move Inc
(816) 601 -3800