This year my RN license turned the ripe age of 1 year old. I looked back on 2015 with the conclusion that I had learned a lot and accomplished little. After I graduated with my BSN in 2014 I got THE job. I gained all my nursing skills in one of the most admitted Trauma units in the country. I have grown as a nurse, and as a person and loved every adrenaline laced second of the job. Yet after looking back I looked forward and saw.........same. Here it was, the biggest fear of any millennial, normalcy. I woke up for work one day and realized this could be me peaking. I could wake up and go to the same job everyday, in the same town I grew up in and be the subject of one of those emails congratulating me for 30 years of service in the same position I started in, in 2015. I was in crisis.
Luckily when you become a nurse you instantly become privy to constant emails and calls from hounds looking for "Travelers". A traveler, or contracted nurse, will sign to work at a short staffed hospital (literally every hospital in America) for a certain elevated pay rate that that nurse could not make being a permanent staff member. The hounds in question are Recruiters. Such an odd job those people must have to call the same numbers every day at the same time to get the same voicemail over and over again. This particular day, however, I decided to pick up the phone. I answered the call, people. Took the plunge. Seized the day. And here I am in Houston, Tx living in luxury.
Well actually I live OUTSIDE of Houston, in a small apartment rented by my company that you have to walk 3 flights of stairs to get to. But luxury is in experience. And my experience is here for your learning. Here are just a few things to remember if, in fact, you think you may want to live the life of a "Traveler".
The first step in taking your show on the road is finding your own personal hound, a Recruiter. An agent to represent your best interests and find you the best opportunities in the best locations. Hound in this sense is not meant to be derogatory, they literally sniff out jobs for you non-stop, if you get paid, they get paid. That is why it is important to find a great one. From experience, not every hound is ribbon worthy. My first recruiter was very nice at the start and seemed to be pretty efficient. That all changed when I actually started my job, hundreds of miles from home. She stopped answering calls, or emails and became all together unlikable. When she finally did answer me she usually addressed me in the most condescending tone and after 10 weeks of working together she emailed me " Hi Doug,...."
Doug. Let me tell you something, when I answer the phone I say " This is David", when I send emails I end them with "David Young-Winter RN BSN", my friggin email is MY NAME!!
I lost it. I lost her. I have since found a new recruiter who is good with names, and has general social skills.
Every hospital you will go to as a contracted nurse will put you through a general nurses orientation which is typically a week long, and then you'll train for a couple of days on the floor before you're set lose. This is due to the basic fact that they don't know your ass, or what you know. However, you will find that this orientation process and the fact that nursing is different everywhere leads permanent staff nurses to believe you are incompetent, inferior. Nursing is way more cutthroat than most could imagine. That sweet nurse that held your hand through labor probably cussed a bitch out during report or worse, stole someone's lunch ( I know that isn't very serious but I literally hate that). I had a staff nurse my first week of a contract yell at me, literally raise her voice at me for not completing a piece of paper all the way. A document that I had never had to fill out before and just was not aware of. So instead of teaching the new guy, this nurse decided to YELL in a professional setting at an individual she did not know.
The fact of the matter is, you learn through experience, and if all your experience is in one facility, on one unit than you probably haven't learned all that you can. So don't let that old staff nurse, who started working in that same hospital when she graduated in 1829 bother you. You are a gypsy nurse, you will have moved on to more exciting places by this time next month and that nurse will still be at her same job, probably still be a bitch too.
Being a contracted individual means you were brought on because of a need. So you know what that means: overtime! :):) Nursing in general is one of those jobs you can work for how much you want to make. There is a national nursing shortage, take advantage of it. I am always your man if you need someone to work extra, because quite honestly I like to spend a little outside of my means. #YOLO
This being said, do not work so much that you miss the opportunity to see your new city. Some travelers take poll of the cities that have the best pay rates, I want LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION. I have a big city in mind that I want to go to and that's what I focus my efforts on, and hope the money follows. Because you're away from home, any off day you have can be a vacation, an experience. Do not forget to truly take in your surroundings and live out in the moment, there is no reason to go see new places unless you SEE NEW PLACES.
80% of being a nurse is just being a decent person. If you can handle that, you will make it in any city you go to. Just gotta answer the call.