Nurse Life in Atlanta Part 1: My Most Atypical Assignment To Date

This was not a typical travel nurse assignment for me…

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As you all know, I am currently doing my sixth travel nurse assignment at Emory University Hospital Midtown in Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta was always on my list of places that I wanted to work as a travel nurse and I am so happy that I finally get to work here and be in this great city.

This assignment was very atypical because for the first month and a half, I have been commuting back and forth out of Atlanta. Unfortunately, I chose an assignment in the wrong timeframe lol. I had weddings, bachelorette trips, and errands to do at home that I never fully got to experience Atlanta the way I wanted to the first half of my assignment. All I did was work, sleep, hit the road, repeat. It honestly made me feel bad at first because this was where I wanted to be and I couldn’t fully enjoy it like I wanted to.

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The more I thought on it and prayed, God told me to look at my motives as to why I felt the way I did. Was it for social media? For people’s approval? To show people that I am “living my best life”? I definitely had a come-to-Jesus moment with my heart and I realized that what I will experience here in Atlanta for 13+ weeks will be far more than what people expect me to do, what I will post on social media, etc. In this short amount of time, I have improved as a woman, found my self-worth, embraced my adventurous spirit, and gained so much experience while working at Emory. THAT is something that I can truly be proud of.

So what am I doing about this?

Well, I extended my contract for two more weeks to give myself a little more time. My best friend and one of my close friends (more like a sister) will be visiting during those last two weeks so I figured I might as well make some money too (haha). I will be done with this contract on October 17th instead of my original end date of October 5th. I experienced Skyview Atlanta which consisted of a ten minute Ferris wheel ride to get almost a birds-eye view of downtown Atlanta. I also went to the Georgia Aquarium by myself which was pretty cool. It’s pricey but I feel like its worth it. I went around 5:30 in the evening (less kids and crowds - that is key). The exhibits were amazing. My favorite ones were Dolphin Coast, River Scout, and Tropical Diver,

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Ever since I have arrived in Atlanta, I was able to link up with this amazing woman who has truly grown to be one of my good friends. Her name is Roxy and she is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at just 25 years old! She is currently doing her residency at Morehouse School of Medicine here in Atlanta. I feel that you should surround yourself with people who are like-minded and who push and inspire you to be better. This woman truly does that! Fun Fact: we were in undergrad together at UNC Charlotte but didn’t hang out until 4-5 years post grad! That just shows God’s timing is definitely perfect and much better than our own. She also has her own clothing line out so ladies if you want that look that you can wear on and off the clock, go here to shop and indulge —> www.shoplaborai.com

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My twinny and my line sister came to visit me last weekend. We also linked up with another one of my friends that arrived in town so we all hung out together that weekend and had a great time. On Saturday, we went to the Trap Museum during the day and then my Airbnb host was having a cookout that evening at the house so we were able to mingle and eat some great seafood! That night, we went to Boogalou Restaurant Lounge and had brunch with another one of my line sisters on Sunday at this place called TWO Urban Licks. The food was AMAZING. I had such a great weekend overall and it just inspired me to continue enjoying my time in Atlanta FOR ME. No matter how I do it, as long as it’s for me, that is all that matters.

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That is all for Part 1! Be on the lookout for more content coming from me about my time in Atlanta via my Instagram page @jazzytravels2018 and two more blog posts will be coming in the future about this travel assignment. Don’t forget to comment, subscribe to my blog site, and share this post!

Until next time,

Live life, love always, and don’t forget to smile,

-Jazzy

Transparency with Jazzy : My Future as a Travel Nurse

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CONTRACT #5...I cannot believe that I have done five travel nurse contracts so far since October of 2017. I am halfway through my contract at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin, North Carolina; going into Week 7 out of 13. Three months flies by so fast in the blink of an eye. Just like I mentioned before in Part 3 of my 3-part series, “A Travel Nurse Guide to Richmond, Virginia”, I decided to take a local contract close to home so I can save a little money and be close to my friends and family for a while. 

This contract is no different from the others. Learning a new hospital, new computer system, meeting new people, and adopting new ways has become second nature. I have also been able to expand on my skill sets professionally, been able to overcome adversity in different ways, and have adopted a mindset that I am at work for the patients. It is never about me. I really enjoy what I do as a nurse and it amazes me that there is so much more out there that I can do and accomplish. The sky is the limit, really. Also, I have truly enjoyed being close to home again. I have spent quality time with my family and friends and have been present for many experiences and events. This timeframe that I have been home has been one of the best times of my life. That is one of the main things that I enjoy the most about being a travel nurse: I can always come back when I want to, and when I am ready to go, I can leave again.

I am going to be transparent with you all. Since I have came back to North Carolina, I have had some thoughts about my career path and what I would like to do in the future. I feel like me being home and enjoying my time here has a lot to do with it (lol).

 I have worked in the hospital (inpatient setting) ever since I became a nurse three years ago. I feel like I want to stop traveling and do something different; specifically on the outpatient side (i.e doctor’s office, clinic, dialysis, health department, etc.). I just feel like I want to do something a little more settled.  I have honestly been contemplating about my future as a travel nurse lately. Here are the most probing questions that pop in my head:

Do I stop after 2019, or do I keep going?

Do I settle for a while or not?

What if I don’t stop travel nursing completely, can I just do seasonal travel and hold a permanent job back home? 

How long do I want to keep doing this travel nurse thing? 

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Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE BEING A TRAVEL NURSE. This was honestly a goal of mine that I have been aiming for since my senior year of nursing school and I have achieved that and then some. But everything has its pros and cons.

What they don’t tell y’all about being a travel nurse is that it can get exhausting. Living out of a suitcase and moving every three months can get old really quick, especially if you are a person that likes stability. Learning a new city and a new hospital can be tough, especially if you have roots in your hometown. Also, if you don’t have co workers that are willing to help you navigate your new workplace, that definitely becomes more of a challenge. Being a travel nurse can also get very lonely. You can get homesick and miss your family and friends constantly. You scroll on social media and see your friends and family have an amazing time back home with different events and occasions. Your heart aches and you hold back tears because you wish you were there too.  You may not be able to relate to the people on your unit and it can be hard to make friends. Travel nursing can also become expensive. Yes, you get stipends that help you with your housing and meals on top of your hourly pay, but you have to duplicate expenses. That means you have to pay rent (sometimes utilities) at the location you are at along with your rent/mortgage and other bills at your place back home. I have come to find that with the luxuries of being a travel nurse, it can also be emotionally and financially taxing. 

But, here is how I combat these issues: 

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I combat loneliness by keeping in close contact with my family and friends and plan visits for them to come see me or to go home for a quick visit. I combat moving every three months by switching back and forth: I will take a long distance contract for one contract, then take a local contract for the next one and just keep doing that. I combat the finances by planning ahead, saving up during every contract, and budgeting accordingly. I also comb through my stipends and hourly pay and plan three months ahead on how much I will save, where I will live during my contract period, etc. 

I have not made any concrete decisions yet, but as of now, I am not going to stop traveling anytime soon. Despite the cons, there are definitely more pros and I feel like at this point in my life, a part of me wants to continue doing this for the time being. I go through experiences and see different things as a travel nurse that I probably wouldn’t be able to do if I was still at home in North Carolina. I still have a few places in mind that I really want to visit before I decrease my traveling or stop completely. I just ask that you all continue to pray for me and just allow God to guide me in the direction that HE wants for my career. I only want God’s will to be done with this. Thank you all for reading and until next time,

Live life, love always, and don’t forget to smile, 

 

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Travel Nursing & Relationships: Can It Work?

 “Girl, you are doing it right. If I wasn’t married or had kids, I would travel too.”

Do it while you can and while you are young with no responsibilities.” 

“If I wasn’t in a relationship, I would have definitely done travel nursing, but I couldn’t do it at this point in my life.” 

These are a few of the responses that I get when I tell people that I am a travel nurse. It’s funny because the question that is asked before the responses is one that I usually get tired of hearing (lol). “Are you married? Do you have kids?” I swear, if I had a dollar for every time a patient, another nurse, family member, etc. asked me that, I would be rich.

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Romantic relationships are one of the main highlights of conversation, especially with millennials. Valentine’s Day has recently came and went so I decided to write a blog post about being a travel nurse and relationships. To make this possible, I was able to interview four different women from different relationship statuses (single, taken, engaged, married) and I wanted to share with you all their real life view on how they see romantic relationships - including their own - and what it really takes to make it work. This is not a tell-all guide to being a travel nurse and having a romantic relationship, but it does give you a glimpse. I want you to read what these four women have to say and then I will tell you my stance on this highly suggested and asked about topic in my line of work. Hope you enjoy and gain some insight. 

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1. N.B. RN, BSN - Age: 27

Relationship Status: Single

Q: You are single currently. As a travel nurse, would you like to be in a relationship with someone? Why or why not?

A: It’s complicated, haha. Part of me would love to settle down with a partner and live a relatively “normal” life, but there’s still so much out there for me to explore and a serious relationship would feel burdensome. I’ve been traveling for two years now, and although the thought has been on my mind lately to settle down somewhere permanently, I still have this itch to go more places and see more things.

Q: Do you think being in a relationship would hinder your experiences as a travel nurse?

 A: I think so. I’m the type of person to love really hard, and I want to be everything for my partner. I don’t think I could remain dedicated to a partner and satisfy my urge to travel nurse, too. They would likely have a career of their own, and I could never ask them to uproot their lives to fuel mine. And even if they stayed behind and we did long distance, being as sensitive as I am, I’d find myself missing their presence and distracted from my travels.

Q: The best part about being a single, travel nurse?

A: Being able to do what you want, when you want, how you want, without having to consider another person. I can take off and leave whenever I feel like it, and spend my money how I want without having to plan for “us”. I get to be totally selfish.

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2. B.C. LPN - Age: 23

Relationship Status: Taken

Q: How does your significant other feel about you being a travel nurse? Is he supportive?

A: My significant other is fine with me traveling but as time went by, the distance started to bother him. He expressed it, but he was still supportive.

Q: What is the hardest part about being a travel nurse and having a significant other?

A: The hardest part is being away from home, especially when you are a family-oriented person and keeping a trusting bond.

Q: What are 3 tips that you would give to other travel nurses in a relationship that they would need to know to keep their relationship happy, strong, and healthy?

A: Communication, honesty, and putting time aside for each other. 

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 3. A.B. RN, BSN, CCRN - Age: 26

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Relationship Status: Engaged

Q: Congratulations on the engagement!! Do you think it is harder to be a travel nurse now that you are taking this next step with your fiancé?

 A: I think being engaged has made it harder for me to pursue travel nursing. But it’s probably not for the reasons that seem more obvious. It’s not the changes to my relationship that have made it harder, that hasn’t changed. Leaving him behind has been the hardest thing for me since day 1. I am very attached to the security he gives me. I don’t mean physical security but emotional security. In him my heart has found it’s home. We went from living in the same house to living good distances apart. Leaving that has always been the hardest part for me. The ring doesn’t change that. What has changed is the fact that now we are trying to plan a wedding from different cities and on my last assignment different states. Y’all that’s not easy!!!

Q: How does your fiancé feel about you being a travel nurse?

A: My fiancé has supported my decision to travel from before I even talked to a recruiter. He has always supported me and has made sacrifices to do that. It’s not easy on him with me being away either. My dad stays at my house a few days out of the week for work reasons. So my fiancé and my dad are partly living together and that’s not the most comfortable situation for them. We also have two dogs. One usually travels with me but my 85 lbs German Shepard puppy can’t and the responsibility to care for him has fallen primarily on my fiancé. Plus he has to put up with me missing him all the time 🤷‍♀️ yet he still supports me and encourages my decisions. 

Q: After you get married, do you think you would continue travel nursing or find a permanent job?

A: Honestly I have no idea how long I will keep traveling. But it’s not just because of marriage. I know if I wanted to travel after being married he would support me hands down and we would make it work. I’ve been toying with the idea of leaving bedside nursing for a long time now. I probably will sometime in the coming years. However If I remain at bedside I will probably continue to travel because I love the flexibility and reduced politics in the travel nurse life. I may take a staff job to learn a new specialty though. Plus let’s be real the compensation (*paycheck*) is much better with travel as well.

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4. S.B. RN - Age: 41

Relationship Status: Married

Q: How long have you been a travel nurse while married?

A:  I have been a travel nurse going on 3 years now. I started traveling after I got married due to some financial hardship.

    Q: How does your husband feel about you being a travel nurse?

    A: He actually encouraged me to travel because it is something I always wanted to do.

    Q: Do you think that being a travel nurse puts a little stress on your marriage or does it bring y’all closer together?

    A: There has been a lot of stress in my marriage, traveling was just a way to avoid things. So because of that I am going through a divorce. However during my travel assignments I have seen marriages grow. I have even seen couples travel together. I hope my story won't discourage any one in a relationship from wanting to travel.

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    There you have it. Four nurses. Four different relationship statuses. Four perspectives.

    My stance?  

    I am single, y’all. Completely single. Yes, there may be a guy here and there that I take interest in and think that I want to pursue something more with, but I haven’t crossed paths yet with a man that will take me serious enough as a woman and that will accept my lifestyle. With that being said, I can just go when I please and not worry about anyone else’s feelings. Just like N.B, I can be selfish right now :)

    One day when I do settle down with my special someone, I know my traveling will definitely be a topic that we would discuss. When that time comes, I will be ready to make the decision to continue or stop because I am doing it all now without thinking of someone else. I applaud travel nurses in any capacity of a relationship (taken, engaged, married) because that is a HUGE sacrifice to be away from your partner that you love and care about so deeply. I do believe that distance makes the heart grow fonder though. What do y’all think? 

    Until next time, 

    Live life, love always, and don’t forget to smile, 

     

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    A Travel Nurse Guide To Richmond, Virginia - Part 3

    HAPPY ONE YEAR, JAZZY TRAVELS!!!

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    4 contracts down, many more to go! 

    I just have to thank God that I made it through another contract! This contract was unique because I have made some lasting connections in Richmond that I will forever be grateful for. Starting with my roommates: they have been great and have become my lifelong friends! If I didn’t go through my housing scam at the beginning of this contract, then I would have never met these amazing women! We understood each other’s trials and tribulations while working and we were there for one another to provide support and guidance. We vow to continue to stay in touch beyond this contract as well! 

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    My co workers were a great team to work with. I never felt like “just a traveler” while working with them. They took me in as their own and never excluded me. I never got the “worst assignments” (a horror story about travel nursing that I have not experienced on any of my assignments) and they were always willing to help me when I needed it. I definitely returned the favor when they needed my help. Not only was work about work, but we definitely had some good times and laughs when we had some downtime and I will never forget my amazing night shift crew! They have definitely won a place in my heart. 

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    Even though I had some good times during this contract, I did find myself becoming frustrated from time to time, especially during the last few weeks. We were short staffed quite a bit so it required management to either find help or we just had to grin and bear it. The nights where we had to grin and bear it were the nights that frustrated me the most. One night in particular, after the New Year, we were short staffed and the hospital felt that it was okay to assign patients higher than our usual ratio.

    FUN FACT: Nurse-patient ratios on my floor are usually 1 nurse to 6 patients on night shift; on day shift it is usually 1 nurse to 5 patients. The more critical you go, the less patients you have (i.e PCU, ICU, etc.) but the patients are more sick. Nurse-patient ratios are created because they help nurses to provide safe, quality care to all patients. If a ratio goes beyond the usual, that makes it unsafe for a nurse to provide care to their patients safely. 

    As you can see based off this chart, my ratio is usually higher than the one suggested in this chart from National Nurses United. My specialty is medical-surgical and the proposed nurse - patient ratio is 1:4. 

    As you can see based off this chart, my ratio is usually higher than the one suggested in this chart from National Nurses United. My specialty is medical-surgical and the proposed nurse - patient ratio is 1:4. 

    I found myself in this situation and I was not happy about that. We called our whole night shift staff, float pool, PRN staff, even tried to recruit from different floors...no one was able to or chose not to come in to help us that night. At the end of the day (or night in my case) someone has to take care of these patients. They cannot be without care. My charge nurse was supposed to leave at 11:30 pm that night but chose to stay with us until 3:30 am so we we’re only above ratio for the last four hours of our shift. It was three of us working that night but one of my co workers had a orientee under him which made four. They took five patients a piece but they were really taking care of ten patients altogether while my co worker and I had seven patients each. Each of us had a PCT (patient care tech, also known as a CNA) to ourselves to help us with the patients and I found that to be very helpful. Being a PCT on night shift is hard as well and when you have 24 patients all to yourself, that can be very overwhelming. 

    I know what you’re thinking, one more patient from 6 shouldn’t make a difference. You would be surprised how much of a difference it makes. If that patient becomes unstable (vital sign changes, mental status changes, an accident happens, the list goes on), that makes you less likely to focus on your other patients and things can happen to them as well that you may miss because of caring for another patient. Also, the more patients you have, the more likely you are to make mistakes (refer to chart above from National Nurses United). Working night shift is already hard enough and piling more patients on to your workload can cause errors that can easily be avoided if the nurse was not overworked and not have many patients to take care of at one time. 

    Thank God all 7 of my patients were stable and I was able to provide the best care that I could for them. With being a travel nurse, I am able to adapt to any situation. Not every situation is ideal which is why I am assigned to certain hospitals to work. I have come to realize that it is not always about what happens to me or what comes my way, but how I handle the situation. My co workers and I worked together, like every other night, and got through it and making sure our patients got the care that they needed.

    Overall, this was a great assignment. This assignment allowed me to appreciate how far I have came and that I have so much more to do and achieve. This assignment also made me appreciate home and my friends and my family. Will I ever come back, you ask? Who knows lol but I would definitely come back closer to the DC area and in warmer weather. 

    WHAT ABOUT OUTSIDE OF WORK? 

    I ended up going to back to DC the weekend before New Year’s Eve with my roommate Krista and my best friend Taylon came to visit me in Richmond about two weeks ago. My other roommate, Breanna, Taylon, and myself ended up going out one night as well. Those were the main fun highlights of my remaining time in Richmond.

    In the Washington Hilton lobby before our day out!

    In the Washington Hilton lobby before our day out!

    Krista and I in DC! 

    Krista and I in DC! 

    Tay, me and Breanna on a night out! 

    Tay, me and Breanna on a night out! 

    WHERE ARE YOU GOING NEXT? 

    Home is where the heart is. I have been so blessed to have traveled to different places for work and outside of work last year. For now, I want to be stationary and I have decided to take a local contract in Elkin, NC. It is a little over a hour away from my apartment in Charlotte. I am so happy that I will be back home and get to enjoy time with my friends and family. Don’t worry, I have not stopped traveling! I have big plans over the summer so staying close to home and saving money is the best choice for me at this time. I will still push out new content for you all to read and enjoy! I have a special blog post coming out in February so be on the lookout for that! Last but not least, don’t forget to comment, subscribe, and share this post :)

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    Until next time, 

    Live life, love always, and don’t forget to smile, 

     

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