About travel nursing…

I get asked all the time what I do, how it works, why I do it and then those questions are almost always followed up by “Oh, you must be single?” God forbid a woman go out on her own and follow her career path while she has a man back home.  No, I’m not single. “Oh, is he loyal?” Yes, he’s loyal.” Fiercely.  If he wasn’t, I wouldn’t be with him.  Our older generation makes me laugh and simultaneously roll my eyes.

Anyway, enough about that.

I’m done! Seven LONG months in California spent working at two different hospitals came to an end at 7:55pm Thursday night when I clocked out of the hospital for the last time. I walked off my unit after a rather crazy final two hours in which I got two admissions, one of which was entirely too sick to be on that unit (I’m not an ICU nurse and we’re not an ICU floor!) and the other, well, let’s just say I’m glad I was clocking out for the very last time. My final day was good other than that– our unit secretary baked me a goodbye cake, one of the staff members ordered us all pizza, and my patient who had previously complained about every single nurse she’d had, bought us several dozen cookies which she gave us right after I discharged her to home, a place she’d been longing to go since she arrived at the hospital two weeks prior.  I attribute her liking me right off that bat to our first day together when I had a student nurse with me all day. He was a super cute young nurse, 21 years old, with glasses that made him look like Clark Kent and a smile that could land him a modeling job.  Yes, my 67 year old patient had a huge crush on Mr. student nurse which meant I was automatically on her good graces because he was working with me.  Our patient-nurse relationship started out on a high note and I made it my mission to ensure my next two days with her, sadly without my student to charm her, would continue on a high note.  Luckily, all went well, and we bonded.  My last day was a good day, overall, and I was blessed to meet some great people during my three month contract who made my final day memorable.

With that being said, well, this assignment was also eye opening and pivotal to my career as a nurse. I was floated about 60% of my shifts. That means I’d show up to my designated unit and my name would not be written on the board next to patient rooms. Meaning, I wasn’t going to work on my unit. So, I’d ask and normally someone would scramble to find where I’d be working.  “The annex” they’d say, or “medical overflow in pediatrics” or “cardiology” or “mom baby overflow” or (insert other location here).  So, I’d find my way to whatever unit I’d be in for the day, finally arrive a few minutes after 7am and then get started with my day.  As a float nurse I had good days and I had horrible days.  That’s the life of a nurse in general, but as a traveler it’s just a tad bit worse.  I had my worst days as an RN at this hospital in California.  I worked hard for every. single. dollar I made on this assignment. I learned so much and great even more so as a nurse.  For that, I am thankful.

When I first started travel nursing I knew I’d be WAY out of my comfort zone.  And then, when I decided to switch from night shift to day shift while traveling, which is a challenge in itself when you’re at your home hospital!!, it was a bigger challenge than I ever imagined.  But, I survived. I’m a day shift nurse now, and a seasoned travel nurse, and I’ve somehow made it work.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been absolutely miserable in doing so most days, but I have learned and grown through the challenge — and that means it was a success.

I packed up Thursday night and was out the door and on the road back to Colorado by 9:30am Friday.  Leaving was bittersweet.  Staying with my great aunt (who is 98 but looks/acts in her early 70’s) was convenient and having my dogs with me this time around was a nice treat. I missed them way too much when I was flying back and forth this past fall.  And, of course, there is my family. Being close to family is a treat. Being able to grab dinner with my mom, or run errands together, or meet my dad for dinner… those moments are priceless. I am really going to miss them.  Mom and Dad if you’re reading….. please move here when you retire! Please 🙂

The dogs and I drove back via the southern route due to hard rain and some snow in California, and snow above Vail. We took highway 99 and cut across through Bakersfield and Barstow (I can never remember what highway that is) and then jumped onto 15 for a bit before cutting over to 40.  We spent the night in Arizona to break up the drive.  And then on Saturday morning we left around 7:30am and drove 40 until Albuquerque when we took i25 south to Colorado.  We had almost perfect driving weather the entire drive except an hour in California and an hour in Colorado.  The car ran well. The traffic was much less on that route than on my regular route through Las Vegas and St. George Utah.  That route is completely saturated with Vegas traffic.

We arrived “home” at about 7pm Saturday night.  It had been exactly two months since I’d been in Colorado, and I smiled widely the last 30 miles. Ben was waiting with flowers (he’s so sweet) & the dogs were through the roof excited to see Ben’s dog, Beckley.

It’s so, so nice to be back.  Colorado views still take my breath away.

On Sunday we went shoe shopping for me — I bought new climbing shoes because I’ve missed the climbing wall sooooooo much & it’s 14er prepping season 🙂 And then I had a spa appointment for a fancy pedicure. Ben bought me a spa gift card for our three month anniversary that expired on the 8th (12 months later!) so I made an appointment for Sunday knowing it would motivate me to get my butt back to Colorado regardless of whatever driving weather we faced. As mentioned, I was blessed with good weather, so making it to my appointment on the expiration date was not a problem.  I enjoyed a relaxing pedicure on Ben, right after I bought shoes that will soon destroy my toes.  How Colorado 🙂  After, we headed to our favorite Taco spot in Boulder and I ditched my diet for my favorite tacos and a flavored margarita. It was bliss.

Yesterday I got back on the Keto bandwagon and Ben joined! Today, he’s at school while I’m at home writing this and job searching. Because, if I didn’t mention, I’m job less. I decided not to extend my 13 week contract in California and have since turned down almost every job that my recruiter has sent me. If there’s one thing I learned in California while getting my butt kicked at work on the daily, it’s that from here on out, I am being much, much more picky with the assignments I’ll even interview for, let alone accept.

So for these next few weeks I’ll be hiking, job searching & enjoying doing whatever it is I feel like doing. That’s the beauty of nursing — you work, work, work, most days wayyyyy too hard and then when you’re off — you need it, badly, and you enjoy it.  And with travel nursing? You work, work, work and then you bask in the amazingness of having that little bit of extra time off in between assignments that you wouldn’t be able to have as a permanent staff member. This time off alone is worth the contractual suffer fest.




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