The good and the bad of leaving home 

I’m off to my next assignment soon. Not heading far, as I’ve mentioned. It’s not at home, but it’s close enough to home that my mother is pleased as punch and is already planning visits. Other than pushing my start date back a smidge, it’s not been much that’s made me more worried than normal about beginning a new assignment. Except… 

One of the things I’m distressed/worried/wondering about is how my appearance will be received. My hair is natural and colored plus I’m proudly sporting a nose ring that I have no plans on removing any time soon. Will that cause issues? 

There’s talk of the appearance of the nurse affecting care, or the patient’s  perception of the nurse’s ability to provide care. I’ll save this topic for another post, but where I stand on that is if I treat you with the dignity, respect, and care you deserve, what does a nose ring and hair color have to do with it? 

This brings me around to the topic that’s been brewing in my head since I’ve been home. 

The Good and the Bad of leaving (and coming) home. 

Many new travelers struggle with leaving the first few times. One of the biggest issues travelers face is homesickness. You’re somewhere totally new with people who don’t know you or what your capable of doing a different routine than what you’re probably used to from home. Add to that being in a new city all a lone and you run the risk of spiraling into depression and succumbing to homesickness. Most people quit if it gets too bad. I’ve always loved being on the road so it’s never been too big of deal to up and leave. I battle the anxiety of a new routine, but have learned to remember what I’m capable of and that makes the first few weeks easier to get through. 

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been traveling for three years, and while I like being home, I find it exceedingly difficult. I’ve been examining why and settled on the conclusion that I’ve changed so much that being home reminds me how much. 

Some of the changes are great. I recognize my worth, I know what I can take on without getting overwhelmed, I know what I won’t tolerate, and I know I’m a good helper. I’m a good nurse. Even when I’m anxious about so many things, I know that. I also know I can be an independent person who goes out and explores without needing someone else there with me. 

Some of the changes haven’t been so good. I’ve grown impatient with others, I’ve fallen into some habits that aren’t healthy (physically or spiritually), I’ve developed a potty mouth ūüė≥, and another of other things that I don’t feel comfortable splashing over my blog today. And let’s not talk about my backsliding as a women of God. Everything has consequences 

It’s also tough on relationships, traveling. I find it easier to move on than take a chance when dating is the way it is currently. It’s hard coming home and seeing everyone in solid relationships, having babies when not sure it’ll ever happen for me. Side note: I’ve wondering how my mother would do arranging a marriage for me. Hm… 

Working at home gets tough because I see clearly what needs changed and I can’t tolerate when I see how poorly the staff is treated by those high in leadership. Church is tough too because they know how I was before and I feel like I’m struggling too much to pretend I have it together like I used to. When you’re out in the world that’s when the test of who you’ll be is given. Who am I right now? Human. Admittedly, I know God can use everything and I need to let Him led. I’m still learning. 

Traveling has helped me become someone better and different. That’s what happens when you’re on the move. Am I where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing? Yes, I believe that in spite of the struggles I battle against on many levels. I’m stronger in too many ways and I feel like more strength (as a nurse, as a woman, as a Christian) are coming. 

Leaving and coming home is an experience every time. And while I’d much rather stay on the road, everyone has to come home to rest. 

Travel on, Road Warrior 

The cost of resentment 

Adios, Plymouth! 

I’ve made my way home which means I’ve completed another assignment. This was one of my best assignments even with the usual crazy staffing situations we ran in to. And after how difficult I found my previous location, I needed somewhere welcoming. 

Quick plug: any licensed Mass travelers, look into Beth Israel Deaconess in Plymouth labor and delivery. In 10 years of nursing, they have the best providers I’ve ever worked with in my career. Nothing but respect and comradery amongst nurses/doctors/midwives. If I wasn’t such a rolling stone (and didn’t possess such an aversion to winter), I’d put down roots. I never felt like “the traveler”. My help was appreciated and that made me feel like an asset. I do plan to return AFTER winter because I think it’s a good place to work. 

There was a little bit of a shake up right as I was leaving. It made me think of things that happen in our lives that breed hard feelings. 

No relationship is perfect. Things irritate us about our loved ones and its hard to not let resentment build up. In a love relationship I can be feeling unappreciated or taken for granted or not listened to. In a working relationship it can be making decisions without regard for staff or a lack of team work or punishing the whole staff for the behavior of one employee. 

But looking broader, resentment can come when someone voices a hurt, concern, trauma and instead of responding with compassion or action you ignore, belittle, or downplay the pain by pointing to something that has little to do with what’s being brought up. Looking at some of the issues facing our country today, it’s evident we have a serious resentment problem that’s exploding into something dangerous. People who aren’t heard tend to react with anger, sadness, violence. Why keep trying when you simply disengage and shout your anger to the world? 

So what’s the answer to resentment? Aside from Jesus and a bat to the back of the head? 

Listening: always the first step. If someone keeps saying they want something or are hurting, don’t add your two cents! Open ears and shut your mouth. 

Checking in: ask how they are and care about their answer.  Don’t let what they say be about how you feel. Let me repeat. DO NOT LET WHAT THEY SAY BE ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL. If they are talking about issues in their life, your response should never be explaining how you feel about it or how it has an effect on you. 

No excuses or apologies, but action helps: we want better relationships. It’s easy to say it’s not your problem and they need to open their mouths or fix their lives or stop complaining. That doesn’t change anything. You’ve added more anger and resentment to an already tense situation. Instead be an advocate, counselor, teacher to others on their behalf. Be a champion. 

That makes change. Listening and hearing and acting make change. 

Where to next? I’m actually headed closer to home. I’ll be in Charleston, WV until the beginning of December. So I’ll be in WV for a while for those in the area. They are going through and medical records conversion which increases their need for staff. 

I’m nervous because I’ve not truly worked in the state in over 3 years. I’m not used to the people or the issues anymore. I’m also not sure how I’ll be received. I want to be liked and seen as someone there to help. How will things be? We’ll see soon enough!

Travel on, road warrior. 

Nurses and change 

I’m headed out of town for a travel nurse conference in Ye Ole Las Vegas. Nurses like to have fun and travel nurses more so. Can you imagine a ton of fun-loving travel nurses in Sin City? 

Don’t even try! You can’t handle it. Lol

What I wanted to discuss was change and how nurses handle it. 

We are funny creatures, nurses. In the length of our profession, it’s easy to see how much things have changed. 

There was a time many nurses didn’t wear gloves when they interacted with patients. Where we stood when the Doctor entered the unit. Where hand washing wasn’t standard in safety. Where the thought of computer charting wasn’t even something to fathom as a part of patient care. 

We don’t wear caps, dresses, or capes anymore. And while I’m bummed about the capes, scrubs are much more practical. 

Many of the changes are for the best. For safety and sanity, gloves are a must. Many changes have led to the improvement of the health of the patient population. Some are a pain and can detract from care (computer charting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!). Overall, the profession is in constant flux in how we conduct ourselves and how we care for our patients. 

I try to keep my finger on the pulse of evidence based practice for obstetrics because I know the things I’ve done when I started will change. I use peanut balls now, am an advocate of delaying baths, and love what walking and position changes can do for laboring moms. 

Even with all those changes, nurses still balk when they happen. We whine, we stomp our feet, we push back. Why? Because we like how we practice now. Why change what’s good? Why get a new computer system? Why use dry erase boards in the OR during sections? Why can’t we do what we’ve been doing for years? 

Well, Nurse Nancy, just like all the other changes we’ve been through, maybe this change will make us better. And who doesn’t want to be better? 

Travel nursing has made me a little more flexible with change. I mean, I do enter a new hospital environment (with different policies and practices) every 3 months. I either bend or I get rolled over. 

We always adapt though, don’t we? The computer system/practice/policy becomes rote. Nurses usually settle in after our initial irritation. Why? Because we know it’s typically a change for the better and we are nothing if not adaptable. We work short staffed regularly so of course we can roll with it. 

Nurses may hate change, but we handle it better than anyone. We deal in bodily fluids and change. Superheroes, the lot of us. 

Travel on, road warrior 

Temp ACK Girl: Es Su Casa?

End of week 4. My halfway point in Nantucket marked by the start of Wine Festival here on the island.

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This morning’s event that I attended was breakfast on the harbor. A delicious affair where they cook and I eat. Ah, would that I could afford a personal chef as the rest of those in attendance could. A girl can dream…

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On to this week’s topic: housing.

When you travel, housing can be one of the best ways to make money. I’ve noticed I’m not terrible concerned about money as a traveler. I probably should be as it is an inconvenience in a lot of ways the constant moving. There should be a level of compensation tied to that, but at the moment I’m more content with the reward that comes with going to a new places.

As¬†I’ve mentioned, there are different ways to do housing. You find your own, hopefully at a reasonable price, and pocket whatever remains. The other option is to take company housing. This saves you time (they find, lease, and pay the cost including utilities. You move into a fully furnished place with your luggage and are set), but no you’re out the extra money.

Nantucket offers another option: shared hospital housing.

The housing situation on this island is, in a word, crap-tastic. There aren’t enough houses to go around. Many year round islanders rent and end up playing the Nantucket shuffle when tourist season starts in May/June. They have housing until that point (9 month lease) and then they are booted out to make way for tourists who will spend a grand a night to have a place to stay here. It’s a way worse situation than people realize and many long time islanders leave because there’s no security. The tourists sink money into the island, but who’s going to be left to work it if there’s no housing for regular people?

As a traveler, I don’t have to worry too much about where to stay here, but I do have to worry about who I’m paired with in the house. When I pick my own place, I’m much more willing to tolerate a stranger. It’s a little different when you’re made to share with a stranger. The first time I came, I was here 7 months and went through 5 roommates. I got along better with some…

I like to believe I can live with anyone, but I’ve had my share of roommates with some nasty habits. I’m not saying I’m immaculate. It probably doesn’t help that I’m not overly social so I don’t¬†much enjoy sitting in the living room chitchatting with a relative stranger. It’s much easier to form a bond with someone you at least work with or having something in common with, a fact that hospital doesn’t take into account. It’s short term so whatever.

The next assignment has me back in company paid for housing and solo. I’m looking forward to that and once again being close to a Starbucks.

As to where I’m going next… I’m actually not going very far. I’m headed to St. Vincent hospital in Worcester, MA. They are an LDR floor with a separate postpartum unit. They do around 200 deliveries a month so they are busy enough. It’s a full 13 weeks so I’ll have plenty to share about work and the area I’m sure. Even if it’s not the most amazing assignment, I’ll appreciate the experience. I’ll get to work on my circulating skills again and be near a Starbucks. Haha

I’m¬†finding it much easier to start over. Even with the irritation that is orientation, I find familiar places unsettling. There’s no novelty in the familiar, nothing to be learned. It’s almost like I’ve conditioned myself to find reward in conquering the fear that comes with the unknown. I’m ready to conquer new things now.

Until the next new thing…

Travel on, road warrior.

Not Quite Home

About to board a plane to head to Nantucket. Wasn’t even home 48 hours before I had to turn around and leave again. It was two days of doctor’s appointments and errands so I got to hang out with approximately zero people. I promised myself 2 weeks off after this contract so I could just recuperate, which leads to my next thought…

The more I travel the more I notice that home isn’t really¬†“home” anymore.

West Virginia, the place I’ve lived for 20+ years is home, but it isn’t where I feel comfortable anymore. It’s weird heading to places I know and feeling weird¬†for being there. I’m so used to being a stranger that being in the familiar no longer inspires the same safe feelings in me.

I think that’s the thing with chronic wanderlust and not being able to stay still. I’m much more comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s strange to say that, but being mobile makes me feel stable. Knowing that I’ll be somewhere different in a few months,¬†weeks, or days is exciting to me. It’s normal! If I sleep in my old room a month total in a calendar year, I’ve been home a ton. I’m far more acquainted with hotel beds than my own. I find I like it that way.

Losing that feeling of being comfortable at home is a little sad though. It’s not the same. There’s certain obligations when I’m home that I don’t have when I’m on the road. My relative anonymity and lack of additional expectations adds to traveling’s appeal.

Please don’t misunderstand. I love being home when I am. I love visiting with friends and family, but I don’t feel that same settled feeling others get when they come home. That renewal comes not when I come home, but when I leave. And I’m always leaving.

The road has become my home. The unfamiliar has become familiar. I find comfort in change and being somewhere different. Two years of travel for my job and previous years of traveling for leisure has made me this way. Permanent wanderlust without a cure.

Am I the only traveler with this problem? Surely not! Wanderlust isn’t a single person disease. Come on, admit it, you’re infected, too!

ūüėČ

travel on, road warrior.

Week 13: I’m never good at goodbye

Here we are! At the end of another contract and doing that thing I do best; moving on.

I have a mental and emotional progression as I go through a 13 week contract. The first month of the assignment is difficult because I’m trying to figure things out. Where can I get a decent burger, gas, where’s the laundromat? Who can I rely on at work, where’s the towels/pads/gowns? What doctors are easy to work with, where’s the epidural¬†cart? I’m nervous and excited, and trying my hardest not to let the newness stress me out as well as show I’m an intelligent/knowledgeable/safe nurse. The second month, I’m less anxious, but I’m¬†antsy. The newness has worn off and I know where to get a good burger! I’m a lot more social, but the itch to move on is creeping up. The last month is where my coworkers start asking when I’m going and if I plan on staying. I can’t stay! Okay, maybe I can. If they liked me, they are already trying to convince me to stay. I’m present, but I’m already looking ahead to my next phase

As the last few shifts tick away, I arrive at the last one and I’m relieved and a little sad. I can’t believe it’s over, but¬†it is

Goodbyes have always been weird for me. Mostly because I feel so transient that I don’t think I make enough of an impact to be missed by anyone. There’s a lot of emotion involved in saying bye. You have to relive your common, shared experiences and confront the real possibility that you’ll never see¬†them again. That can be hard and as a traveler I try not to get too caught up. I have to leave because leaving is what I do.

I never expect cards, cake, or hugs. The assignments that send me off with those things have a special place in my heart. I try not to get too attached, but you do to a certain degree. You leave a little of yourself at every place you go. That makes saying goodbye hard every time.

To leave a good impression of travelers when I go is my ultimate aim. I may be a traveler, but I’m still a nurse, which means I want to work hard and be a good example. Liked enough to be asked to stay even if I can’t.

So, time to pack up and leave. I have another cross-country trip ahead of me, which means I’m off to another assignment and another future goodbye.

For¬†those I’ve met so far in my travels, you’ve added something to my life and for that I’m grateful.

Til the next hello…

Travel on, road warrior

Week 11: Where are you going?

6 shifts left! Where did 11 weeks go already? I mean I’ve blinked and it sped by.

So I promised to reveal where I’m going next and with it the why of my decision.

First, let me say that I’m an antsy traveler. That means I start looking for my next assignment about a month in to the current one. So right when the serious nerves wear off (4 weeks in), I’m¬†already browsing my company’s site and all the major job boards for open positions.

Technically that’s not the proper way to go about it. Most recruiters recommend scouting the next assignment 4 to 6 weeks from when you’d like to start. Most hospitals are looking for immediate starts so within a week or two. If I present myself as an available candidate but can’t start until 2-3 months later, that may bump me out for the position. They need ASAP and I can’t do it.

I can’t help myself though! I love the safety of knowing where I’m going long before I’m ready to go. Bless my recruiter for her patience when I email her about a job I saw in the middle of the night. I know darn well I can’t be put in for it, but I can’t help looking! She’ll humor me by at least inquiring and I love her for that.

It works in my favor at times

Seriously, I interviewed for my assignment in Ventura the middle of November. I didn’t start until January! I knew early last month I was going to my next assignment though I’m not starting until the middle of April.

I tend to ask early for extensions if I’m going to stay or scout jobs sooner if I’m not interested in staying.

This is just the one area I like to plan ahead. I don’t mind the myriad of other changes I experience as a traveler, nor the host of¬†things that crop up that change things. I just need this one point of stability so I can make other plans. Other travelers may have a different way of doing things. Some like the¬†push because you can make good money scoring jobs that appear the week or few days before. Kudos to them!

But I need to know early.

So where am I going next anyway??

Well, after a little bit of deliberation, I decided to head back to Nantucket for 8 weeks. My reasons are many and money did play a role in my decision. Some of it had to do with needing a break in pace again.

The hospital here can be hectic most of the time with very little downtime in a shift. I’m looking forward to really¬†bonding with my patients again. I’m in an LDR situation here, I deliver them and then send them on their way. Nantucket is LDRP and it does give the opportunity for one on one teaching with the patients because of the slower pace. Sometimes I like the teaching aspect of postpartum and the way you can connect as you educate. Following a patient through all aspects of their¬†delivery/postpartum process is nice. It’s what I know and I enjoy that.

So I’m heading back for a short stay. I’m already mentally planning where I’ll head next. Of course I’m thinking toward the next assignment! It’s what I do. What’s not to love about a job with such amazing flexibility? I want a faster pace? Go somewhere bigger. I need to slow it down a bit? Go somewhere smaller. Big city? Little city? Winter spot? Vacation time?

Travel nursing has got me covered.

Travel on, road warrior.

Plan changes can be like dirty diapers

Sometimes they happen and they stink.

As travel days go, yesterday was a stinker. We’d set out early in hopes of exploring Roswell for New Years Eve.

Except Mother Nature decided to throw a huge curveball in the form of some really really bad weather. Ice on the roads, multiple accidents, and severe detours. We made it to Roswell, but 6 hours later than intended and with the inability to do anything at all. Our next stop had to change because the threat of worse weather being a big deterrent. So the Grand Canyon is out for today as well. Big bummer as that was one of the places I really wanted to see in this cross country venture. Maybe it’ll be a trip I take some other time.

It made me think of how change happens and how we handle it.

-Unexpected job loss
-Surprise (and potentially unwanted) pregnancy
-A travel job not being what you thought
-Not going to the school you’d hoped to

It’s easy to look at each of those and spit, cuss, throw up your hands, or think life is against you. I’m finding sometimes things are better in the end.

-You get a better job or a better opportunity comes for you
-That child does amazing things in its life
-You learn something great or meet someone great on that assignment
-The school you do get in has a huge impact (for the better) on the person you become

I’m not saying we can’t be upset about change. It’s hard not to be when things don’t go how you want. It’s hard to see any potential good through the panic/disappointment/depression. I’m not even saying I’m all that good at being positive. Shoot, I’m the queen of anxiety and panic attacks when things even hintat going wrong.

But if I can look on the bright side even once? If I can see God’s possible plan and rely? If I can trust that maybe the plan change is better even if the “better” is my safety in travel?

I’ll try to see a little clearly.

Here’s to a new year of looking at things differently.

Travel on, road warrior.