See A Chance

Happy Post-Turkey/Pre-Christmas Shenanigans. I hope the holiday season is treating you well so far. Frankly, I’m trying to stave off the insanity of Christmas shopping. I’m not one of those people who was done shopping a month ago, but I’m halfway through and that’s pretty spectacular in my opinion.

With the end of the year comes the time of year when I’m thinking of where I’m going to end up. Things are a bit chaotic as I’m in Plymouth far longer than I would normally remain in the east. That changes my normal plan to head to California the first of the year. I’m a snow bird, as we all know, and I head for warmth as soon as there’s even a hint of winter in the air. My plans are a little thrown off, which makes me wonder if this next year needs to be different.

My initial plan was to just stay where I am in New England for a few more weeks. I could finish and then take another trip to England only for 3 weeks instead of 4 days. Well that didn’t pan out. Now it’s trying to decide what to do next and I’m stressing through it.

Next year in May makes 5 years of straight traveling. That’s not a long time, but it feels long. I have these moments where I’m desperate for a break. Not just one or two or even three weeks off, but longer. Not from traveling, but from nursing itself. From staring at monitors, stressing about strips, worrying about making mistakes, or fretting about outcomes.

You can love something and need time away from it. We go and go until we’re forced to stop or we hate what we do so much we up and leave. We seem to take pride in burning ourself out. The funny thing is when the opportunity to take five comes, we don’t always take it. We waffle because money, family, obligations, obligations, obligations.

I may have the chance to take a break and I’m battling with whether I should take the chance. What if I don’t budget enough money or something happens or… or…

I realize that I have a lot of privilege in the decision I’m trying to make. I realize not everyone gets to be in a position where they can choose between taking time off and working to make ends meet. I’m very privileged.

So shouldn’t I seize the chance when its presented to me? I could try to find a short 8 week contract and hope I can get 3 weeks off, or I can budget my money and just take 11 weeks off. Get my big trip to England in and figure out the direction my career should take next. Which would you do if you could swing it?

Oh there’s a number of things I need to sort like finances and insurance. I’ve had a sleepless night or two lately as I’ve pondered the right thing to do. I already have some ideas on how to make it work, but it’ll require a bit of lean living for a bit. Not like I don’t need to live a little leaner anyway.

I feel like if I do what I normally would I’ll miss a chance to experience something awesome. Life has enough regrets that I’d hate to make this one.

Life sometimes gives us the opportunity to take big chances. Scary chances, exciting chances, daring chances. There’s a lot of what-ifs tied to stepping out, but there’s also a lot of freedom too. It requires thinking things through, but it also requires jumping and seeing where you land.

I guess I’ll do something that others may think is reckless. I’m a travel nurse though so a lot of what I do requires a certain degree of recklessness.

So, here’s to jumping and seeing where we land, eh?

Travel on, road warrior

Advertisements

Even Good Things Change

Hello! Sorry for the month long radio silence. I went to England with plans to post and it didn’t happen, came back and got super sick for a week and a half following my trip, and have just recently stopped feeling like a whiny baby because of sinus trouble. All this to say, I didn’t get around to blogging like I planned. That’s life though, isn’t it? We sometimes make plans, but come to alternate outcomes.

The Lord determines our steps

I’m well in the midst of another contract here in Plymouth. 3 weeks in and 11 weeks left (I’m taking a week off in December). I’ve been here since May and I always have to remind myself that I’m not permanent.

I continue to travel for very specific reasons. I enjoy the change, the ability to see different places, and the general freedom traveling affords me. There’s risks involved in traveling, yes, but I find that the rewards out weigh any pitfalls.

One of the biggest things I’ve always struggled with in extending on assignments is getting comfortable and complacent. It’s easy to settle in and allow the current workplace drama (I’m not saying there’s drama here) to infiltrate your life. The circus and the monkeys start to become yours. If you thrive on change, it can make you irritable.

Another equally important thing is you notice when things start to change. When providers are grumpier than they used to be or coworkers are more upset about changes or cohesion is shaky. When you’re only someplace 3 months, you don’t care or notice otherwise. That’s the thing with staying put, you care.

Caring as a traveler isn’t a bad thing. People have this misconception that travelers are incapable of giving their all because they aren’t invested in the hospital. Untruth. I give my 100% everywhere I go because I’m a nurse no matter what. I want my patients to know they will get good care from me and I want my coworkers to know I’m a team player. What I don’t want to get involved in is politics. As long as the dramatic changes going on in the hospitals don’t affect my ability to work, the drama doesn’t matter to me. Staying removed is more difficult the longer you stay.

Lets not ignore the pluses to extending. Being in a work environment you like, knowing the routine, being able to navigate the area and the hospital with ease, and having the trust of your coworkers. I don’t want to let those things go without being said.

I can tell I’m ready to try something new though. The thrill of change is calling me. To keep me sharp, keep me energetic, and keep me loving what I do. Let’s be real, sometimes this isn’t fun. It wears you down and makes you question why you decided to be a nurse. I want to make sure I’m staving off that attitude as much as possible, and keeping moving is how I do it.

It’ll be time to investigate my next place to be. Will it be California again or somewhere totally new? Time will tell. Until then?

Travel on, road warrior

Conference, conferencing, conferenced

Welcome back, friend. Frankly, it’s always nice to see a smiling face around here. Why come if not to smile a bit, yes?

Anyway, I’m fresh off the glittery high that is the travel conference. If you were there, I’m sure you partied too hard, and if you weren’t, you didn’t party hard enough. Okay, imma be honest and admit I didn’t party at all. Listen, I was asleep by 8pm every night I was in Vegas. I’ve never been much of a partier, but 7-8 hours of solid sleep? I’m down for that e’ery day of the week.

Before I talk briefly about the conference itself, a word of warning, if someone asks you if you want a discounted show and free lunch at the hotel if you’ll just sit through a timeshare presentation… say no. You’re welcome.

On to the conference. This was actually my third travelers conference, but the 10th annual celebration. There’s so much to see, do, and experience when you attend. The things I appreciate the most about the conference, and the thing they continue to do every year, is bring topics forth that drive forward the improvement of traveling itself. Need to know about tax home, multi-state licensure, being a traveler outside of the US, or RV-ing? They have a seminar/talk available to you. I love that I can find what I need there, even if I’ve attended the topic (taxes) before. It always applies, always helps me, always makes me excited to be a traveler.

There were something like 1400 people in attendance. Some people were dreamers, in school or working and just thinking about what traveling would be like for them. They were able to mingle with other travelers and talk to them about traveling. Seasoned travelers were in attendance as well. People who have been traveling as long or longer than I have traveled. They could find more detailed tips to make traveling better for them or find a new recruiter. Companies turned out in droves, trying to hook new and old travelers. I’ve been with the same company for almost 5 years, which isn’t the norm, but it was interesting to meet recruiters and hear what they have to offer.

The mingling wasn’t my favorite part, but I know how the industry works and the necessary relationship travelers have with travel companies. This was evidenced by the way companies subsidized the cost of the conference for us. A wide range of companies, and hospitals even, were present. They’re goal is to recruit nurses who want to travel. Most travelers work with 2-3 recruiters to find an assignment so the conference is a great place to find a company that suits your needs.

It’s also a place to find travelers you’ve worked with in the past. It’s amazing to run into someone you suffered through with on a terrible contract. The good times come up and they also make traveling worth it.

I encourage you to attend next year even if you’re just thinking about traveling. It’s an excellent opportunity for you to get a taste for what traveling actually entails. Both the business and social aspects that compose the act of traveling.

1400 people is just a taste of the travelers that navigate this world. We do what no one else is willing to do, go into a new place and hit the ground running. We are traveled and we come to help.

If you missed the fun, check out my instagram for some great photos of the conference. You can also check the #travcon2017 in instagram for more fun.

So where to next? Well, I’m off for a short trip to England before I head back to Plymouth for the fall and *shudder* first part of winter. I’ll be visiting and staying with friends who live outside of London and are nice enough to let me stay with them. They’ll show me England and help me explore London AND I’ll keep my travel costs low. I’ll post photos, promise

All the traveling, all the time. That’s my business! So, until the next travel waves carries me away…

Travel on, road warrior

Happy employee, happy business?

So it looks like you’ll get two posts this week! Lucky you, right?

Conference offically starts in a couple of hours so I thought, with the start of a conference for people who travel for a living, why not discuss a topic I’ve beat to death  talked about on this blog many times.

Why people leave.

(On a side note: I’ve been trying to ease back into Facebook of late. I’d stepped away for a host of reasons, the least of which was the feeling of a non reality. Facebook tends to cultivate hard feelings and an unrealness. People say what they want on there with little regard to how that makes others feel. Political and social issues that are important to me become things those I have respected in the past feel they can say whatever they want, reposting ugly memes a person would otherwise think twice about posting. No one wants to be in that environment.)

Getting to it, LinkedIn emailed a post out this morning that I felt was incredibly timely. The Real Cost of Poor Leadership talked about many of the things I go on about fairly regularly, which is people leaving jobs they aren’t satisfied doing.  A few highlights that caught my eye:

 

I recently had a conversation at work… okay let’s just call it a rant… on why nurses job hop or leave the profession all together. It’s the old attrition and retention talk that plagues every field. We make decent money no matter where we live compared to the average American, we offer a service of caring that can be uplifting, we go into our profession with the aim of helping. So why do nurses keep leaving?

I reject the idea that this is generational or the result of the attitude that “if this doesn’t work, I’ll do something else.” Why? Because most nurses start with a desire to be all they can be.

The article mentions bad bosses or management. It’s no back up when you need it. It’s infighting when we should support each other (nurses eating their young/new). It’s that feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, and that general feeling that no one cares if you make it.

No praise for slaving away on a night when things are crazy and you barely made it. No considerations when decisions that directly effect productivity are made. More about money and bottom lines.

When the CEO making more than every person working on the floor combined, gets a bonus every year and the nurses risking their lives have gone two years plus without a raise, we’ve got a problem.

I travel because I can seek out better. Yes, every hospital has its problems, but there’s nothing that says I have to stay and endure crap. And some places are definitely crappier than others. I can move around and explore and save myself headache. Maybe I’ll find that perfect place, maybe I won’t, but I only have to suffer 3-6 months at a time instead of my entire career.

Been there. Done that. Life is too short to suffer a terrible manager (middle or upper), or a terrible doctor(s).

We deserve better as a profession and until we get there the travel industry will get bigger while the nursing shortage also increases.

The number of nurses here is insane and seems to be reveled only by the number of companies here trying to gather business. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that this is a business and we are a commodity. It’s difficult to navigate it well so a conference that discusses all the information you need to know is important.

Now if I could just do away with the necessary, but annoying schmoozing, I’d do even better.

Anyway, it’s time to get this conference underway. Maybe I’ll surprise us all by doing a post tomorrow!

Confernce on, road warrior? ☺️😊

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before

Well hello there, friend. Thanks for stopping in. Sorry I missed last week. I was back to work and sleeping was far more important than pretty much anything else. I picked up a weird 11p-11a shift that made me a zombie nurse and I’m just recovering (okay I’m not recovered at all).

4 weeks left in my current contract. I’m in the very spot I’m usually never in for reasons I’ve already mentioned. I don’t have my next contract lined up yet.

IMG_3066

Things have either fallen through, didn’t feel right, or weren’t happening. I’ve been doing a lot of mental pep-talking to convince myself I have nothing to worry about. Nothing. At. All. Something will pop up that will be exactly what I need and I’ll be happy. And even if it’s not perfect (because no assignment is perfect) I’ll have learned something about myself at the end of it all.

Which leads me to today’s post…

I’m sure I’ve discussed this topic before, but it never hurts to rehash it. Let’s do some definitions.

Bias: a particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned

Prejudice: 1. an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.
2. any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable

Stereotype:  a simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group

I don’t feel like I need to say anything more about any of those definitions apart from saying that everyone has preconceived notions. As humans, we classify things in order to have them make sense in our minds. It’s what we do, it’s not necessarily a bad thing… until it flips over into a behavior that causes us to treat someone else in a way that harms/disadvantages/holds them back.

The media, TV shows, and general news can reinforce them until they become rote in our minds. Bias hurts, prejudice hurts. Stereotypes I can work with. We can bust people out of boxes just by getting to know them. They become a person instead of an it because we’ve attached a face to their profession/addiction/sin/behavior. Then we find that, no, not all (insert people group) are like this just because I read it in a book. Unless of course you’re doing something truly awful then perhaps you are the thing you’ve been classified as by others. 🤔

As a traveler, I run into and try to overcome other people’s stereotypes concerning travel nurses. What’s a travel nurse? A regular nurse who travels. Haven’t ever worked with a good travel nurse? Wait until you work with me because I try my hardest to be a good nurse. Think travel nurses don’t care about the hospital or the job they’re at? Not true of every traveler. We’re there to work and be team players and I’ll work to show you that every time I walk in the door.

I’ve worked places that were hostile to travelers, where they worked to get them fired or ran them off. I’ve experienced places indifferent to travelers, where they didn’t care if you came to work or not as you’re just a body anyway. I’ve also worked at places that were grateful to each traveler who showed up. Everyone has an opinion about travelers; the work we do, the reason we do it, the money we make doing it, and I’ve seen the bias more often than not in the way they assign patients or treat the traveler in general.

All this to say, be teachable. Everyone is not the cookie cutter person you think them to be. It’s okay to have formed opinions and impressions, but give people the chance to blow your mind. You may meet a great travel nurse or friend that way. Admitting you have bias doesn’t make you a bad person, holding on to that bias and treating someone shabby does in my mind.

We can all do better, can’t we? Let’s start now.

Travel on, road warrior

Home is where the tasty food is

Alternative title: I came to eat!

So, things I know about myself are while I don’t mind change (I travel for a living!), I do like a little bit of control over how things go. There are travelers who can wait until the last week of their current contract before they start looking for their next one. That can work to their advantage as they find the highest paying at the moment because the need is immediate. It can also be a disadvantage if contracts aren’t plentiful or they are looking in a specific place or, or, or…

Forget. That. Noise.

Did you note my panic just typing out the things that could go wrong waiting until the last minute? All the things. I like some control so I look (and book) early. Some say wait until 4-6 weeks before looking and securing. I’ve gotten my next contracts within 4 weeks of completing my current contract. It’s how I have a little control over what comes next and, if I don’t like where I am or have worn out my welcome, I can say I know where I’m going next.

I start my next 5 week contract in Plymouth shortly. Unfortunately, I have no idea where I’m going next. I thought I did, was sure if it actually, but life is funny, ain’t it?

Anyway, I wanted to talk about one of – and of course I have more than one – my favorite places I have to stop at when I’m home.

Provence Market 

I may only be home for a week, but odds are good you’ll catch me here for lunch one day that week.

Listen, I’m not here to advertise or convince you to like or go to a place, but if I’m home and I want to go someplace to eat, I’m going here.

I can’t say I’m a lover of French food. I tend to think it’s a bit… perfect, pretentious, pompous… over done. But I like the versions of the food they do here.

They do a delicious French dip with some Brie added. A side of house made chips with truffle dip and I’m set.

IMG_2992

Or their Croque Monsieur – American style

IMG_2991

Atmosphere has an upscale air, but it’s not stuffy. Colorful plates with paper across the table, it has a nice feel that’s not off-putting in the lest.

The part I most appreciate about this place is the prices aren’t crippling. That French dip? $9. I don’t know that may be more than most want to spend, but with my eating habits (and subsequent food spending habits) that’s a deal daggonit!

I’ve eaten at more expensive places, but something about this one always draws me back. The heart (stomach) wants what the heart (stomach) wants.

There are places in my home town that I want to boost up and this is one of them. Homegrown restaurants aiming for that big city is worth noting.

Man, I need to change my title to say “Traveling Nurse: baby catching with a side of traveling and eating.”

Next up? Boston Comic Con plus their restaurant week, and then back to work. As always, get out there and enjoy where you are even if socializing isn’t your strong suit. And eat the dang cupcake. Until next week

Travel on, road warrior

I can work with that

And I’m a year older!

We’re post birthday (welcome to me in Year 33), and I’ve already veered off my tentative blogging schedule. My original intention was to have a twice a week posting, and last week didn’t produce said activity.

Look, I’m not going to sweat a schedule. I’m just going to be happy I manage it at all. We can’t be picky when we’re out here seeing the world. I’m conquering town, cities, states, and countries over here.

In case you’re wondering, my weekend was filled with pickles and lots of food. Picklesburgh, set on the Roberto Clemente bridge near PNC Park, was an interesting experience that reminded me of why I love the opportunities that traveling provides me. And why I’ll never have pickle lemonade if I’m ever offered it  🤢

You can see a lot by going not so far from home.

Pittsburgh is a short jaunt up the road (hour and some change depending on how long it takes you to drive), and the short drive brings you into a city with its own culture. Steel City, the home of Heinz, a city with a history rooted in industry that’s shown itself to be far more.

It’s interesting to cruise around a city that at times feels like it’s struggling to grow out of its industrial slump. I’m not going to lie, it reminds me of D.C. and it’s constant struggles with gentrification. The rundown houses butt right up to the hipster breweries. That’s any major city though, so I can’t fault Pittsburgh for the pains it feels at times.

East Liberty has a huge Target that seemed to draw people from far and wide into its doors. You pass the orchestra house and the ballet, both tucked into buildings that appear to have one time held factory work. Lawrenceville is home to many a hipster restaurant, and is the setting for an ice cream place whose idea, I was informed by someone, originates from Thailand. Check out NatuRoll, if you’d love some ice cream with a side of fanfare. Head over to the strip district for cool bars and a great (and wicked busy) Argentinan place. Gaucho, oh Gaucho, delicious food that makes your little heart sing. Stuck near the airport? Head to Settlers Ridge for Giant Eagle… I mean, a strip filled with stores and food to keep you entertained.

IMG_2934.JPG

Stuck at home? I believe every city has its strong points. There are things I do like about home and I’ll have to express that in a post sometime. The thing to remember is getting out. I don’t know how many native dwellers have told me they’ve lived somewhere their whole lives and never visited any of the major landmarks.

If you can’t travel, explore where you live. There’s simply no excuse. Festivals, farmers markets, parks, trails. Free, free, and free. When you know it, the city leaves its mark on you, so let it leave its mark.

In the immortal words of Stephen Stills, if you can’t be with the one you love, honey love the one you’re with. 

I’ll take my own advice every time I’m home.

Travel on, road warriors

Changing Courses

I’ve been the height of negligence when it comes to the blog. I think it’s time to change courses a bit, but first…

My birthday is coming!

*cue confetti falling from the ceiling and balloons popping up!

My birthday has always been an interesting experience for me emotionally. Parts of me dreads growing older, always has dreaded it. Maybe because of fear what the future holds or how much closer it brings me to death. Life is fragile and uncertain. Birthdays can be a reminder that time is speeding along instead of creeping, and for some reason that’s always left me feeling breathless and scared.

I have to actively stop myself from checking for gray hairs, folks! I also comfort myself with the fact that neither of my parents grayed early, as well as the fact that I don’t always look my age. Growing older isn’t a bad thing, but I’m not always ready for that idea. Especially when my mother occasionally asks me when I’m going to have kids. 🤔

One of my traditions, something I’ve done since I was in college, is to dedicate my new year to God. It’s a chance to evaluate the previous year, look ahead to the coming year, and offer that new 365 to God to shape however He wants. It has always added a different perspective to my birthday by changing my outlook in a very purposeful way.

I also celebrate my birthday like it’s a national holiday! That can mean a big international trip or something as simple as a nice massage. It’s important to celebrate self where you can in life.

As for work, I’m finishing up one contract here in Plymouth and then returning for a few more weeks after. I have some travel plans in the works, including the travel nurse conference and a big international trip.

I want to do something more with this blog space. Not monetize it because that’s everyone MO as of late, but I want it to at least be more prolific than it is currently. I’m hoping to write more in general, including reviews for local places and restaurants.

Writing is something I love doing and I just want to offer more of it even if it’s only in weekly doses. So here’s to more traveling, more writing, and birthday celebrations.

Travel on, road warriors

The Good, The Bad, And The… Meh?

Another assignment completed. That means it’s time to hit the road and head off to my next assignment. Always to the next one with me.

I travel because being anywhere permanently makes even thinking about staying somewhere makes me break out in hives. While I’ve always known this, traveling has made it more obvious that there is no ‘awesome place to work’. Every place has its issues whether they are frank or hidden. The nature of the hospital setting lends itself to problems that aren’t easily solved. It could be staffing issues, management issues, upper management issues, or just interpersonal issues. Something always make it less than ideal.

Not every assignment is going to be amazing because every place has their issues. Not everyone is going to love me or what I bring to the table when I come there to help them. In their eyes, I’m simply another body where they’ve been incredibly short and as long as I’m capable enough they don’t need anything else from me.

Did I love this previous assignment? I started with mixed feelings and ended the same ways. This is one place that I didn’t have a party at the end. Not that a party when a traveler leaves is indicative of anything, but it’s obvious that you’re being there and leaving make a difference when they bother to have something for you. I know I was the only one of my group of incoming travelers that didn’t renew. That’s not necessarily reflective of the place as I always head back east, but I also didn’t want to stay where I felt so indifferent either.

It’s a reminder that you can still be the best you as a traveler even if no one else notices.

I’m rapidly coming up on four years of this travel nurse thing and I’m continuing to learn things. Mostly about myself and what I will tolerate, but also about my skills and abilities. I struggled at times this past few months with feeling unrecognized. As is typical of my personality, I realize I need to at least know someone appreciates me being around to help. That isn’t always possible so I need to remember who I am and what I know. Those things doesn’t change when I go somewhere that isn’t so excited to have travelers outside of filling vacated spots.

So every place, no matter how difficult, has a lesson or a learning point. Whether it’s something that boosts your skill set or something that increases your emotional awareness, every place will teach.

So I’ll keep on to the next thing as usual. Travelers gotta travel and I’m a traveler to the core.

Travel on, road warrior.