A Traveling Nurse Talks About Her Experience: Welcome to “Travel Nurse Interviews,” a series where we introduce you to some of the travel nurses that work for Next Move Inc.
Here our travel nurses will give you a little first-hand insight into why they made the switch from staff to travel nursing, what it’s been like since Covid-19 hit and what tips they have for nurses considering traveling for the first time.
This week we’d like to introduce you to Steph M, an RN, with over 4.5 years of nursing experience who has been traveling since February of this year.
Let’s hear what she has to say!
What was your inspiration to become a nurse?
Previously I wanted to be a doctor and that just wasn’t in the cards for me. But I love medical stuff. From pathophysiology to mental health and everything in between. I also love to help people. Nursing encompasses all the above. It’s not just a “take care of people in one way” sort of profession because nursing encompasses so much. It’s an honor to care for a person and their families, to build rapport with people and help them get better, especially when you’re taking care of the sickest of the sickest, aka the ICU.
Why travel nursing?
I was frustrated with the fact that the hospital I was working for cut our pensions basically in half. I’m almost 40 years old so retirement for me, is actually not too far away. When they cut those pensions that was a big deal and it felt like a slap in the face. Especially after all of us stood up to the challenge of working during a pandemic, worked 6-days a week to get the job done, and did so without complaint.
The idea of Travel Nursing was like a dangling carrot for me. I saw Travel Nurses come into my hospital, do what I can do and were making so much more money than me. Add to that the fact that we were in the middle of a pandemic and I was working 6 days a week and the $800 bonuses they were handing out just weren’t enough. And certainly not even close to what a person (a travel nurse) working only 3-days a week was making in one week. I was working 6 shifts a week, compared to their 3 and still wasn’t making what they were making. And it was frustrating.
I was burnt out. I was overwhelmed. As a staff nurse you’re expected to work all those hours and are still asked to be on committees and stuff like that. When it comes to travel nurses – they’re able to feed their families and still have time to do other things, not feel so burnt out and have the space to recharge. That last part was just one of the biggest things for me because it really started to become a mental health thing. I needed time to recharge.
What has your experience with Next Move been like?
I worked one contract with Next Move and am currently working for another agency who was able to find me a higher rate than Next Move was offering.
I know it sounds strange – I’m interviewing with Next Move when I left for another agency – but trust me – I’ll be back soon.
With the company I’m working for now, it really feels like there is a thumb on me. The compliance person there is new – and things feel very black and white. So, I’m not having the most ideal onboarding experience.
Out of all the companies I’ve been with I feel Next Move absolutely has the best communication. And Next Move is the only one that reimbursed me for some of my educational expenses, like my TNCC class. And honestly, after this last experience, and because I had such a positive experience with my Next Move recruiter Danielle Adkisson, I’ll definitely take my next assignment with Next Move.
I really like that Next Move really invests in their nurses. That really speaks volumes about the type of company that Next Move is.
How has nursing changed over the last year as a result of COVID?
The profession as a whole is in crisis mode. I was travel nursing in New York this past February and it was like a war zone. And that wasn’t even the peak of the Pandemic. That was this year, just a few months ago. And I believe those nurses have PTSD from that experience. This is in part due to what I believe is the hospital’s unrealistic expectations of what our mission, as nurses, is right now. It shouldn’t be “patient satisfaction” because there is only so much “satisfaction” a patient and their family are going to have with the high acuity rates we’re seeing.
The focus should be on what we’re doing to keep a patient safe. I think things have just changed over the last year and a half – but the hospitals haven’t changed with it. I really feel like last year we were labeled “healthcare heroes” but really the whole time we were sacrificing ourselves for the greater good – with none of that returned to us in kind. I think because of this – a lot of nurses have left nursing because they no longer feel safe or cared for.
Prior to COVID – we were able to manage everything a lot better because we had better staffing ratios. One of the best nurses I’ve ever worked for – left nursing because she was terrified to bring COVID home to her senior mother and new grandchild and she could no longer manage seeing so much death on a daily basis. She said she saw more death in the past year than she had in her entire nursing career and it was really taking a toll on her mental health. At some point, for many nurses, this no longer is a viable career option just because of the mental health toll it takes.
I myself have started seeing a professional – because some of this stuff is not just something I can talk to my family about – not something they would entirely understand. When they talk about the fear of bringing COVID home – that can come in more than one form – either the literal virus – or the mental toll that comes with treating COVID patients all day – which is also something you don’t want to bring home to your family – to your relationships. I think taking care of your mental health is more important today than it ever has been before.
What do you see changing in the coming year for travel nurses?
I think Covid is going to have one more, big wave. Just because it has been so politicized and there is such an issue with people taking the vaccine. I’d say ½ of the staff at the hospital I work at have refused to take the vaccine. And in my opinion, until something changes and something clicks, we’re going to have more mutations until finally people start to understand the big picture.
In regard to travel nursing – I believe travel nurses are going to be around for a while. And staff nurses will continue to leave until hospitals start investing in their wellbeing. And now that travel nursing is offering things like paid benefits and PTO, hospitals are really going to be in for a run for their money and will be obligated to pay their people more – to compete with travel nurses – or just lose all their nurses all together and go bankrupt.
Travel Nursing Tips for Travel Nurses
How to Make a Travel Nurse Resume + A Real-Life Sample Resume
How to Pay Off Your BSN in Just Over One Year
Top 10 Toughest Travel Nurse Interview Questions (and Answers!)
Top 6 Nursing Side-Hustles
Top 19 Mobile Apps for NursesHow to Find Furnished Short-Term Housing
What is Block Scheduling?
Travel Nurse Salary: Top 3 Ways to Make the Most Money
Travel Nurse Qualifications: What Paperwork Do You Need?
Travel Nurse Contracts: How to Avoid Cancellations
Travel Nurse Benefits: Health Insurance & 401(k)
Travel Nursing Testimonials
Started traveling simply because she wanted to make more money.
Started travel nursing to take control of life and boost her mental health.
Tried travel nursing 16 years ago and didn’t like. See what changed her mind.
Chose travel nursing so she could take as much time off as she wanted.
Med/Surg RN with 4-years’ experience. Her tips for nurses new to travel
Stayed with her hospital when covid hit. After 8-months started travel nursing
Started traveling the second she got 2-years nursing experience
They cut her pension – so she quit and started travel nursing
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