Transparency with Jazzy : My Future as a Travel Nurse

IMG_0404.JPG

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? 

IMG_0406.JPG

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: 

IMG_0403.JPG

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, 

 

IMG_0057.PNG

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.

IMG_0400.JPG

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. 

 ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————

IMG_0399.JPG

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.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————— 

IMG_0402.JPG

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. 

 ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————

 3. A.B. RN, BSN, CCRN - Age: 26

IMG_0401.JPG

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.

 ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————

IMG_0398.JPG

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.

     ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————

    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, 

     

    IMG_0057.PNG

    A Travel Nurse Guide To Richmond, Virginia - Part 3

    HAPPY ONE YEAR, JAZZY TRAVELS!!!

    IMG_0378.GIF

     

    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! 

    IMAGE.JPG

    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. 

    IMAGE.JPG

    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 :)

    IMAGE.JPG

    Until next time, 

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

     

    IMG_0057.PNG

    Being a Travel Nurse And Working the Holidays

    This is the first year of my nursing career that I have been assigned to work all three major holidays.

    IMG_3066.GIF

    So far, I have worked Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. I will also be working New Year’s Eve this year. When you work in the hospital as a nurse and you are permanent staff, you rotate holidays every year (i.e work Christmas, off Thanksgiving, work Christmas, off New Year’s, vice versa). The minor holidays fall into that as well like Labor Day, Memorial Day, MLK Day, etc. but you can work those out easier than the major holidays. Major holidays are typically required for all staff, literally all hands are on deck (including travel nurses) during the three major holidays of the year: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s. The higher-ups frown upon you calling out on any of these days unless it is an absolute emergency.

    FUN FACT: HOSPITALS STAY OPEN 24/7/365/366 (on a leap year).

    Holidays are a non-factor when it comes to working in a hospital. People still get sick. People still get hurt. Accidents happen. Crises occur. Families need support. Patients need care.

    IMG_2712.JPG

    Regardless of my smile in the picture, I honestly did not feel like working on Thanksgiving. I had missed the Thanksgiving holiday with my family due to me having to come back to Richmond to work. I scheduled myself to work on Thanksgiving because my mom had hip surgery that same week and I had to make up my time since I took off for her surgery. Like I always tell y’all if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. PTO is non-existent for a travel nurse. But, since I worked Thanksgiving, you think I would have Christmas off and possibly work New Year’s Day right? WRONG. When I saw the schedule and realized that I was also working Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, I was devastated. As a travel nurse, I stand up for myself when necessary so I did go to my manager about my concerns and to let her know that it wasn’t fair to have me work every major holiday. To make a long story short, there was nothing I could do about it.

    FullSizeRender.jpg

    On the bright side, I was off on Christmas Eve and my family actually made their way up to Virginia and spent the Christmas holiday with me. We got an Airbnb in a beach town called Gwynn, Virginia. It was a little over a hour away from Richmond, but I was perfectly fine with making the drive to see my family. I had a great Christmas and enjoyed the time with my family so much. We had our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve and opened up presents early on Christmas Day. I still had to go to work that night and yes sleep was sacrificed, but I would do it all over again. It truly made me happy that even with me being scheduled to work, I still got to spend time with my family and have a great holiday. 

    IMAGE.JPG

    HOW TO HANDLE WORKING THE HOLIDAYS AS A TRAVEL NURSE?

    IMG_3068.GIF

    Being a travel nurse itself is hard enough. You are away from your family and friends so you miss out on certain events and special occasions. You do not get PTO or sick leave so if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Imagine all of that, plus working the holidays which sucks all on its own if family and quality time is important to you. In this life, it is not always about what happens to you. It is about how you handle it. Yes, I was disappointed but at the end of the day, I realized that it is bigger than me. There are patients in the hospital who don't want to be there probably as much, if not more, than I do. My sister-mentee Anita tells me that I am special to be taking care of other people’s families on the holidays. Sometimes as a nurse, you do not realize the impact you make on people until someone reminds you. The holidays will definitely put that in perspective, at least it did for me.

    I want to share six tips that my travel nurse company, RN Network, put together on how to stay happy while working the holidays as a travel nurse. I am just going to list them, but you can read the full article written by Lindsay Wilcox by clicking this link: https://www.google.com/amp/s/rnnetwork.com/blog/six-tips-for-staying-happy-while-working-holidays/amp/

    1. Remember that you’re helping others.

    2. Take advantage of extra holiday pay (can be very convincing sometimes).

    3. Focus on making new traditions.

    4. Celebrate holidays on the day after your shift.

    5. Take extra time off later.

    6. Keep in touch with family during your shift.

    IMG_3069.PNG

    So yes, I am working New Year’s Eve while my friends and family will be out celebrating and spending time with loved ones. But guess what? I’m off New Year’s Day so my first day of 2019 will start off with me taking care of patients and getting much needed rest afterwards :)) Hope you all stay safe, have a wonderful holiday season, and a Happy New Year! 2019, we’re ready for you!

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

    IMG_0660.PNG