Mitigating and Managing

Hello and welcome to the circus!

Seems wrong to call life a circus, but at times it feels like I have no idea what’s happening next (in my immediate sphere or outside of it) and how I’ll react to it. Maybe gasps. Maybe cheers of excitement. Or crying hysterically. Apt, don’t you think?

Well, in assignment news, a decision has finally been handed down. I won’t say too much until I’ve signed my contract because in this circus, the act can change in an instant. Just know I’m glad to finally have something done with 4 shifts left in this current assignment. It took a lot of reminding that things weren’t out of control just because I didn’t know what was happening next.

Now that I know I can move on to more exciting things. I’ve got a couple big trips lined up on my 3 weeks off. Both trips I’m very excited about for vastly different reasons, but excited nonetheless. One I’ll tell you about next week (travel nurse conference) and the other I’ll spring on you last minute as I’m trying to keep other parties calm on that front.

Thinking about my second upcoming trip makes me think on ways I mitigate and manage things in my life. We all have people, jobs, forces in our lives that we try keeping calm and juggling around.

I have a tendency to be majorly influenced by those who rotate in my orbit. It’s something I hate and appreciate. Appreciate because I have people whose opinions I value a lot. Hate because if they disagree with something I’m planning on doing, I can’t always shake off their strong opinion. Is it my decision not to do this or am I being influenced too heavily by someone? And how do I manage when said strong opinion becomes upset that I didn’t heed their advice? It’s been a life long struggle of mine to find the balance.

Mitigation and management come in handy not just in those moments in my life (it’s better to ask for forgivensss than permission by the way), but in work.

Negotiating pay packages. Advocating for patients. Dealing with bonehead doctors. Trying to figure out changes in insurance. Or why my HelloFresh box was randomly canceled. All things that require the ability to explain what you need, see the best solution to the problem, smooth ruffled feathers, and get the best for both parties if possible. While not screaming like a crazy lady

It’s not always possible to come to a solution that pleases everyone. Someone is going to walk away unhappy no matter how you try appease or conjole. But… I hope to have left the situation having handled it to the best of my ability

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing 

from Proverbs 12:18 NIV

Frankly, my mouth gets the best of me. I’m trying to be levelheaded and calm because that’s what the situation requires, but the moment I’m affronted, cooler heads don’t always prevail. 🙈 Hey! Im trying to do better, be better, act better, but the tongue is a sword for a reason.

I need to heed the lessons I speak into this space. That means actually watching my mouth and trying to grant dignity to others. I just need to remember to not do those things at my personal expense. Sacrifice is important, but I tend to give more than I should to others. Balance.

Life is a circus. I’m trying to tight rope walk/juggle/clown car my way through it. Aren’t we all though?

As always, let’s all try to do better, shall we? I’ll lift you up a little and you extend the same arm to me until we manage to get there.

Until next time.

Travel on, road warrior.

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Dust in the wind?

I typed out that title because my mind was focused a bit on some of the things going on in my life. I’m still not 100% sure where I’m going to end up, and with just 2 weeks left in my current assignment, it’s getting to be a little disconcerting.

My thoughts turned outward though. Not in a, “these people have it so much harder than you right now” kind of way, but in a reminder that sometimes my crisis isn’t all that critical. My uncertainty will resolve soon enough where others have a long list of things that may never see resolution. Never minimize your own struggles, but refocus on what’s fixable and what is ultimately just going to take time to get better.

We are in a state of constantly shifting current affairs. So much heartache, violence, and strife. That’s the world right now, but that’s been the world since The Fall (for those who believe in biblical teachings) and many times history repeats itself in the most horrifying ways.

There are moments of hope. News stories of people extending their hands to others in need. Saving animals and people alike. Being moral, being kind, being godly. Those glimmers are life rafts in an otherwise sad state of affairs.

Does that mean the terrible things plaguing us will disappear overnight? No. There are going to continue to be things that outrage, grieve, hurt, and scare us. That’s just the facts of life and our existence on this planet. I believe there are things we can do to make it bearable. Seeing the sick, praying for and meeting the needs of the poor, marching for the big issues, speaking up against things that are obviously wrong, and being the very example God called us to be. Don’t just speak Christian behavior, be Christ-like. Or if that’s not something that jives with your world view, be a better person than the person you dislike, up to and including treating them with dignity even when you’d rather not.

Have a good meal with a friend, help a person in need, examine your biases, and stay connected. We are finite, but our lives are worth so much and are worth living to the fullest with purpose.

I’m rooting for you so promise you’ll be rooting for me too.

Travel 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

Hospital: a business with a cult mentality

Happy Nurse’s Week

I’m doing my favorite thing in the world; sitting through hospital orientation. It’s difficult not only because I loathe orientation, but also because it’s one I’ve sat through under a year ago. *cue internal screaming*

I’ve come to many conclusions about being a nurse and being in the hospital setting.

1) this is a business.
While healthcare, the administration of care, the care of patients and families shouldn’t be a money making scheme; bottom line is it is indeed a business.

While I don’t like it, hospitals have to make money in order to keep the lights on. Frankly, I’d like to get paid for what I do, so the hospital has to bring in cash (however that looks) in order to pay their bills on time. Part of that is part satisfaction and jumping through hoops to accommodate government entities that control reimbursement.

The unfortunate thing, in my humble opinion, is it makes the conversation more about money as opposed to giving good care. It always comes across as doing something so the doors stay open. Perhaps that’s me being jaded.

There have been so many strides and improvements in healthcare in just the decade I’ve been a nurse. Great advances that I’ve seen in my travels that make me excited for how they increase the health and well- being of patients. Healthcare has to morph to accommodate, but I can’t help feeling that some of the brokenness of the system comes down to how much money may or may not be made. It makes it tough to want to continue in the hospital setting because the last person receiving consideration is the nurse.

Which leads to my next point.

2) nursing is a cult.
Or maybe nursing is a cult because hospitals molded us into it? Stop me if you’ve heard this before…

I remember teaching and thinking that. Like the military, we have rules and a way of thinking far different than laymen. We use terms foreign to most people and process that would make no sense outside of the context of nursing. Even within the different specialties, there is language and behaviors we do. I know a little bit about hearts, but if we start talking arrhythmias then I glaze right over. I know some ICU nurses get weird when you start talking about the fundus.

Where I get kinda, antsy is the loss of self or total disregard of person that comes with stepping into a hospital.

You must do this for patient satisfaction and this to keep the doctor happy. What about me as the nurse? We make up the large majority of the hospital work force, but the once yearly recognition of Nurse’s Day with the occasional gift thrown in doesn’t make me feel valuable or important.

I know, I know I talk about this a lot. Part of why I continue traveling is because no where treats nurses with any kind of respect outside of what must be done to make the hospital happy. For all our knowledge base, no initiatives are geared toward making us important components of the process. Not do this, but you are important.

Maybe this has little to do with cult mentality, but maybe it does. It does have everything to do with satisfaction of nurses. We exit the hospital in large numbers and the shortage is real. Why is that? Why is retention and attrition a continued issue in hospital settings? Why is no one really trying to fix it beyond handing out sign on bonuses?

You want longevity and good patient care? Take better care of your nurses. The hospital that gets me to stop traveling will be special and if they have a good retention rate, I’ll call out all the reasons why.

I can’t help coming back to this point over and over. It seems to bother me more than is should and is part of why I’m constantly debating leaving the hospital setting all together.

Back to orientation. Always back to orientation.

Travel on, road warrior

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