This week in the “Meet Next Move” blog series we’d like to introduce you to a very special addition to our travel nurse recruitment team: Caleb Skyles, RN, BSN, CCRN.
Over the past five years Caleb has worked over 14 travel nursing assignments at various healthcare institutions across the United States and has a total of 7 years of nursing experience. Very recently (like in the last month) Caleb finished his last travel assignment in St. Joseph, Missouri and decided to join the Next Move team as our newest recruiter. Lucky us!
You may be asking yourself: what kind of nurse leaves nursing and becomes a recruiter? That’s weird? Does travel nursing suck? Does nursing suck? Have I made a horrible career choice? OMG!!!
Calm down, or as the Spaniards like to say: tranquillo hombre. Here is Caleb in his own words:
Caleb’s No Bullshit Explanation for Leaving Nursing
"Simply put? I got tired of being homeless. One of the things I loved about travel nursing was of course: travelling all around the country! But after about 5 years of not really having a home, it ended up catching up to me. I really missed being around friends and family on the reg. So far, it’s been really nice being able to have my car completely unpacked for more than a week. That being said, I’m kinda bummed I don’t have the fun of looking for my next assignment right now."
The Formative Years
Now that we've addressed the elephant in the corner, let’s start at the beginning: why did Caleb start nursing to begin with? We’ll let Caleb take it from here:
First, I chose the nursing profession, like many of us, because I knew it was one of the few degrees where I’d almost be guaranteed a job straight out of college. I also knew the profession offered a large variety of different skilled positions. So, if I ever became bored or unhappy with one role – I could always up my skill set and switch roles.
But back in 2015, after 2-years of being a staff nurse, I took my first travel nursing assignment at hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. One of my friends, and Respiratory Therapist, turned me on to the idea and introduced me to her recruiter. From there, as they say, the rest is history!
Over the course of the last 5 years I’ve worked 14 contracts (most of them 13-weeks long) and lived everywhere from Augusta, Georgia all the way across to San Diego, California and a dozen places in between.
The Best Part of Being a Travel Nurse
When you’re a travel nurse, your profession is really as both a traveler and a nurse.
As a nurse I’d say one of my best moments, and it’s really hard to choose just one (but this has stuck with me for years) was when I was riding in the back of an ambulance to manage a critically ill patient while I was on assignment in Maine. It was something I had never done before, so it was super exciting, and the patient had a good outcome, so of course it’s a good memory.
As a traveler some of my best moments were the countless concerts I’d attended while on assignment (like in Austin), the dozens of sunsets I’ve seen over the Pacific (while working in San Diego) and the many gorgeous sunrises I’ve seen rise over the Atlantic (like my time spent in Charleston).
As the combination travel nurse I’d have to say the best part was the cumulation of all the skills I’d obtained by repeatedly walking into a new environment and being expected to be an asset on day one. A huge challenge that I had always found really exciting.
Advice for Nurses Considering Traveling?
I have three solid bits of advice for any nurse considering traveling:
One: Be open.
Some of the best assignments I’ve completed were in places I never thought of visiting before. There is so much more that goes into a contract besides where it’s located.
Two: Have a solid idea for how much money you’d like to make.
This will help you in two ways: if you have a hard cutoff for what you will accept and what you will not it will (1) help rule out jobs that you will not be satisfied with and (2) saves you the time, stress and energy of trying to negotiate a higher pay package when it’s simply not attainable. Know your worth – what you will accept, what you won’t and stick to it.
Three: OMG Have fun!
Traveling may feel difficult in the beginning (as is trying almost anything new for the first time) but in a lot of ways it’s easier than staff nursing. It’s easier to get guaranteed time off. It’s easier to pay off your debts and/or save money. It’s easier to stay out of politics. And it’s easier to survive when you end up in an undesirable role because hey! It’s over in 13-weeks.
Million Dollar Question: How Much Money Did You Really Make?
And the million dollar question is: how much money did I really make as a travel nurse. Honestly? It just depended on how much I wanted to work. And throughout my nursing career I was of the frame of mind, to put life first. Live it. Enjoy it. So I didn't push too hard to make sure I had a contract every second of every day. That being said I made around $110K per year with 4 to 6 weeks off each year.
As with any profession how much you make will depend largely on your speciality and years of experience. From what I've seen, travel nurses make anywhere between $1600 and $4500 a week.