As I write this I’m currently sitting in the basement of a restaurant (in the wine cellar) in Bucharest; sipping cold Merlot, listening to live music, and pondering the meaning of life.
While I am sipping cold Merlot… I’m not necessarily pondering the meaning of life. Instead, I’m thinking how freaking grateful I am that I chose to take the path of becoming a travel nurse. Why be a travel nurse? Why is it that I felt such a strong desire to take the leap from being a nurse to becoming a travel nurse? And how did it change my life in such a drastic way?
Why Travel Nursing? What Makes it So Special?
In the past three years of being a travel nurse, I’ve traveled to 20+ different countries. I have lived in six different states. Volunteered abroad for an extended period of time. And have had more than 280 days off work (in the past three years)! All of my experiences have been incredible! And none of it would have been possible if I hadn’t taken the leap from nurse to travel nurse.
When I first decided that I wanted to be a travel nurse I was absolutely terrified. I didn’t know what I wanted, I didn’t know what questions to ask, and I didn’t have anyone to turn to. I remember thinking to myself, “Hmmm… I just want to move. Somewhere cool. Where maybe I know someone. That sounds fun.” So I made mistake number one…
My first mistake when deciding to take the leap into travel nursing was entering my name and phone number into a random database on Google. A database that said something along the lines of “leave your number for high paying travel nurse opportunities!” Little did I know that now all of these travel nurse agencies would have my phone number and my phone would be ringing off the hook from recruiters who didn’t necessarily have my best interests at heart.
My first call was from a recruiter at Travel Nurse Across America. I remember the phone call perfectly. Why? Because I was so overwhelmed and anxious at what the recruiter was spouting off at me that I almost left behind my dreams of becoming a travel nurse entirely. She asked me, “Why did you choose travel nursing?” And I didn’t have much to say besides… “It just feels right”. I told her that I potentially wanted to take an assignment in Boston and she started spouting out pay packages and numbers. At the time, most of it was over my head… “Will you be getting company housing?” “What about insurance?” “Gross pay, net pay, net pay, gross pay.” She told me what my paycheck would be and I blindly trusted her thinking, “Wow! More than I make now!” (Little did I know that pay package she sent me was a load of crap and she would be taking a huge cut of my pay and putting it in her back pocket). Needless to say, I was so overwhelmed that I decided I did not want to work with her. But luckily, I didn’t give up…
My next phone call was from a recruiter at Medical Solutions. She seemed to be much more patient with me and understanding. She knew I had a lot of questions because I was a newbie. She talked me through the entire process, she talked me through my pay package (and although it was much, much less than everyone else was making… I appreciate that she spent the time speaking with me). I felt so comforted that I decided to apply for my first travel nurse job at that very moment. She submitted me that day, I had an interview the following day, and an offer the day after that. In three short days, my life had been turned upside down. I went from a staff nurse to a travel nurse in the blink of an eye.
I went back to work only to tell my manager I’d be leaving at the end of the year (six weeks’ notice). I said my goodbyes. Packed my apartment. And hit the road.
My first assignment took me back to my home state – Nebraska. I moved back in with my parents, unpacked my car, and started my very first travel nurse assignment. My world was rocked, all that was familiar was gone, left behind in Kansas City. I didn’t know anyone on the unit, I had a hard time learning names. I didn’t know what the doctors liked. I didn’t know that the unit was much more strict than my old one. And I certainly didn’t know where anything was. That first travel nurse assignment was the best and worst 13-weeks of my life.
This is Why I Chose Travel Nursing…
So while travel nursing has turned my world upside down… while it made me uncomfortable and led me to some places I didn’t love… It’s also been the best thing for me. The benefits of travel nursing have always outweighed the downsides of travel nursing.
Becoming a travel nurse jolted me into a new “normal”. It opened my eyes to things I never knew. It brought people into my life I would have never known and even took some people out of my life that I thought I cared deeply about. So yes, travel nursing has taken me to 20+ countries and has allowed me to live in six different states. Travel nursing has led me to volunteer abroad, and it’s even given me 280 days off work in three years. But it’s also done so much more than that.
To fully understand what I’m talking about you just need to go and experience it for yourself. It might be scary. It might be messy. But one thing is for certain… it’s one hell of a ride.
Are you looking to take the leap into travel nursing but would like a little more guidance? I now offer 1:1 mentoring for those serious about becoming a travel nurse. Please read this post for details: How to Become a Travel Nurse.