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

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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.

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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.

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Or their Croque Monsieur – American style

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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.

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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.

Is it too late now to say sorry

First week in da bag. It was looking iffy as to whether or not I’d start on Monday in hospital orientation. They are part of a large hospital system, which is fine until I’m hassled right up until Friday about minuscule paperwork. You’d think a big system would be less complicated and difficult, but what have we learned when anything gets too big? No quick movements and you tend to make a mess of things you won’t bother to clean up.

Anywho, I was able to start and did get to sit through the ever repetitive and ever boring Hospital Orientation. The upside is there was plenty of coffee.

I worried what with the snags I had leading up to starting that the floor was going to be where I’d truly regret my decision to work at the facility. So far (and this is day shift!), no one has been mean and I haven’t had to call my best friend to beat anyone up or my mom to come get me. Hehe.

In the course of my first three 8 hour shifts on the floor, I noticed something. I say SORRY an awful lot.

Now, some of that apologizing stems from my need to project an aura of perfection. Not good, but I want to be and seem more than competent at what I do. I’m always concerned there will be doubt when I start someplace new and I strive (overly so) to squash that perception within minutes of interacting with me. It leads to a certain level of constant anxiety that I have to work through and is a constant struggle. I notice that when it may seem I missed something obvious even when I may not have truly known, I say sorry.

I thought I was just me though. No, everyone says sorry unnecessarily. We apologize for behavior that is natural and doesn’t require it. I caught myself telling others to stop saying sorry. It was something that just stuck me as wrong.

Not that apologizing isnt a good response when you’re truly wrong, but perhaps we should change that to something else.

I’ll work on alternative phrasing, but in the meantime I’ll try not to work so hard at being perfect. No one is capable of it outside of God and I’m afraid I’m only made in His image.

Back at it for week two and off day shift. Waking up at 5:30am ought to be illegal. Hopefully this hospital gives me good experience in all its busyness. I’m here to help and learn so let’s get to it, shall we?

Travel on, road warrior

 

 

Jesus Take The Wheel

So begins my trek cross country. It started rather abruptly yesterday as the worry of snow and ice sent me out the door a day early. I’ll get to that in a sec, but first…

In case you didn’t know, I loathe the snow.

A little background on me (for those who don’t know me), I was born in Maryland and spent the first 10 years of my life in the D.C. Area. As a family, we moved to Bridgeport, WV when the FBI made the big transfer so I’ve spent the large majority of my life in WV. Love it, claim it, call the Mountian State my home. I went to college in the area and worked the first 7 years in a 30-40 min distance from my childhood home. It snows in WV. Pretty much can count on that happening every winter without fail. Most people cope with it well and for a long time I just worked to grin and bear it. Nurses are essential workers so…

And then I started traveling for a living. I love Boston, which is the first place I traveled, but it’s terrible in the winter. One of the worst places during winter months actually. So, when considering where to go next, of course I opted for a place that’s typically warm – meaning no snow. And a yearly tradition is born. The east coast is my place from April through December, but after the new year I’m a Cali girl for 3 months. This is year 4 of heading west

That means, I drive out every other year. So I beg my best friend to drive out with me, we try desperately to avoid the snow, and we sightsee. And eat all the good food. This year is Nashville, Oklahoma City, Sante Fe, Utah, Vegas, and up to San Fran.

As much as change doesn’t bother me, I like change under careful circumstances. Admittedly, when things change abruptly, I become grouchy, flustered, and incredibly uncertain. Yesterday’s abrupt departure definitely put a kink in all my plans for the week. Not only that, but once I arrived something went awry with the hotel and they had no power. That means I was sent to a different hotel. It was one little thing after another that kind left me extremely… not a nice girl.

I was trying to look for a lesson in it. Heck, I’ve been looking for a lesson in the entirety of this year. Here’s kind of what I’ve settled on.

Not a huge Carrie Underwood fan, and really I don’t like the song for a lot of reasons, but Jesus Take the Wheel is one of my favorite things to say when things get a little out of control. Sometimes I say it jokingly and others it’s a true prayer for patience.

Here’s where my Christian roots show even in the midst of my backslid ways. For all I struggle at times, I believe God has the proverbial wheel. I’m the queen of uncertain and right now I’m battling anxiety and obsessive tendencies, but I trust that even still God is working things out. That doesn’t protect me from death, disease, or pain, but it reminds me that His hand guides. This world isn’t a fun place and we can’t avoid the not fun parts even if we’re staunch believers who are kind, love others how they need it, and pray without ceasing. But His hand guiding is still a surety.

Things can go from great to awful in an instant. Life is that way and that won’t change. As much as we complain this year and our privilege in country had insulated us from many of the awful things that could occur. I never want to downplay grief, loss, change, or hard times. This year has been full of it. Next year may not be different, but I can set my mind where it needs to be in order to remind myself of the good. I’m thinking of doing a photo a day next year to help remind me to look for the good things.

As for this trip? I’m going to trust God with the things that make me uncertain. I’ll also keep my hands on the actual car steering wheel because we may run into *shudder* snow.

Travel on, Road Warrior