What made you want to become a nurse?
I’ve wanted to be a nurse since I was three (I always used to “take care” of my toys). Both of my parents were in medical professions in some aspect. Also, my grandparents lived with us and they were both sick, my grandfather especially. I spent a lot of my time following and watching the home nurses and therapists give them medicine and take care of them. I just wanted to know everything. When I was in middle school and some of high school, I started taking over their care when the nurses weren’t there. It just reinforced that little dream I had when I was three. It has always been something that I wanted to do.
When did you decide that you wanted to try travel nursing?
At some point before I even finished nursing school. I am a highly adventurous person and the idea of just sitting at one position until I retire absolutely drove me crazy. So, I just started doing research into it, probably by my sophomore year of college. Olivia reached out to me around the same time and literally stayed in touch with me for 3 years until after I graduated and had been working for over a year to gain experience. Then, I took the plunge into traveling
What is it that keeps you coming back for more?
Well, I’m 27 and single, I have three dogs I travel with and I feel like it’s easy to do at this point in my life.
So many people that I meet, especially during my travel assignments, always say “I wish I could do that”. But they are older and set in their career, or they have a family, just something that is preventing them from having the ability to up and move to a different place. I haven’t thought about settling down yet, because I feel like I’ve met so many new people and heard so many different stories, and I just like it. There are different cultures that I get to know. Each hospital is run a different way, which allows me to see so much. And of course, the pay is great, but I also get to see the country. I feel like it is too good a gig to give up.
You have three dogs, tell us about them!
So, Lily is a chihuahua, she’s 9. Roxy is a Catahoula Border Collie mix, she is 3. And Will is a Lab/Cattle dog of some sort and he’s about 7 years old. They keep me busy! So, last year I was driving from Ohio to South Carolina because I was supposed to be going to Mexico the next day. I ended up falling asleep at the wheel, wrecking my car, hitting a guard rail. Lily the Chihuahua was injured, and Will and Roxy took off running. I found Will immediately, but Roxy was missing for 8 days. We found each other, but I mean it was like in the middle of nowhere Virginia. I always thought that dogs didn’t have a sense of time, because like you said I could leave the house for 5 minutes to throw trash away or I could be gone for a week and I get the same greeting. But when I found her after those 8 days, she was definitely different with the way she greeted me.
You’ve had several surgeries throughout your life... how has that changed your outlook and mindset?
I have had kidney stones like crazy since 7th grade. I had a brain tumor when I was 17; it was a pituitary gland adenoma surgery. It kept growing and they were going to do surgery, and then it just vanished on its own, which was a huge blessing. I also had to have Rhino Septoplasty (had my nose reconstructed) because I broke it 5 times. I grew up with two brothers and I’m right in the middle. It was always just me and the boys. I didn’t have any cousins my age, so I just played sports with them and my face was like a magnet for everything!
Olivia and Samantha always tell me “oh you’re always so happy, you’re always so positive”, but I just feel like there are so many people in the world that use the things going on in their life as a crutch or excuse; always talking about the things that have hindered them. But anytime something happens in my life, I just try to see the positive in it and consider it a blessing. I feel that every little thing is a humbling experience. Idk if that makes me crazy or…
What advice or suggestion would you throw out to the world to make the lives of traveling nurses better or easier?
Travel nursing, especially the first assignment, can be challenging. In some hospitals, the staff nurses sometimes have a mindset of “she is getting paid more than me to do the same job, give her the harder assignment”, and they will kind of dump on you, but like I said I just use that as a positive. I just approach it like “oh you want me to have two more patients than you, I’ll take those patients and I’ll bust my butt and I’ll knock my stuff out while you’re still sitting there complaining about something and I’ll come up to you and ask if you need help.” Having this mindset has helped me combat the negative people and help them understand that I really do care about the patients, the hospital and about being a part of the team. It’s all in how you approach it and your mentality. If you go in thinking “I’m going to be eaten alive; I’m going to get dumped on; I’m going to get the hardest assignments; It’s not going to be a good assignment”, you are setting yourself up for failure every single day.
I can say though, with places that I have been they have mostly accepted the travelers with open arms, because they know you are there to help them, regardless of the pay. I do think it helps that I am flexible when it comes to shifts and hours though. For instance, I just worked a Thursday day shift, then worked Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night shifts. I go back in on Tuesday for 3 days on day shift. When they see that, and they know you’re not like “oh I’m going to come do my three days and then leave” they begin to see that you really do care and want to be a part of the team. You will have to prove yourself at first, especially with the doctors. The doctors are the hardest get on board with you being a traveler, because they don’t if they can trust you and they don’t know your work ethic. So, just be on your A game. You have good and bad nurses that travel and good and back nurses that are staff; it’s a big game of proving yourself.
If you can be outgoing, have a positive outlook, be friendly and try to get to know the staff and the doctors, that will go a long way. So, it’s all just mentality and your attitude when you go into it.
What is something that gets you unreasonably excited?
I’m obsessed with music! I play the djembe which is an African drum and I play bongos.
I have a bunch of debt from school and from the car accident, but every time pay off a loan, I’ll treat myself to a trip somewhere! When you are a travel nurse, you see different states within the country –how much more is out there – it makes you want to just keep seeing and doing and experiencing!
I was actually in Costa Rica last week. I grew up surfing on the coast of South Carolina and that has been a passion of mine. Since I have been inland like through college and haven’t had any costal positions, I have gotten really into rafting. So, it was a dream to go surfing and rafting in Costa Rica. When the plane was landing in Costa Rica last Wednesday I was literally in tears, it was crazy, because this is something I have wanted to do for so long and I’m finally able to do it for myself. It was just overwhelming to be able to be there and do that. I made friends while I was there. We were actually texting earlier, already trying to plan a trip to go back. I’m still on cloud nine.
Traveling, especially just meeting the people, hearing their stories and learning their cultures, it’s just great. I feel like just traveling in general, outside of work as well, is kind an obsession of mine!
Where are you heading to next? Any bucket list destinations?
Costa Rica was on my bucket list. I also want to go to Indonesia, Thailand and South Africa badly.
I am also planning a trip with some other travel nurses that I know from school and assignments. We’re going to fly into Oahu, Hawaii for 2 nights and do the whole touristy thing in Honolulu. Then we are going to take a small plane over to Kauai, and camp and hike for 5 days. I am very excited about it!
In February, I am heading to Havasupai Falls Indian reservation in Arizona. It’s unreal that it is even in the United States. It has bright blue waters, the red clay, and so many green trees, but it’s in the middle of the desert. They only give a limited number of permits each year, and I have been trying to get them for so many years and this year I was finally able to get them!