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

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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? ☺️😊

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

Week 9: “So do you plan on doing this for long?”

4 weeks left! Time flies when you’re having fun, and in all honesty I can say I’ve enjoyed Ventura. It’s a gorgeous area! Not so close to LA that you’re battling terrible traffic every day, but a place with plenty to do. I’ve gotten in quite a bit of exploring and a whole lot of eating. I sent lovely beach pictures to the fam to help them through the winter. I hope they’ve appreciated my efforts! 😋

Anyway, I’d like to discuss a question I get a lot as a travel nurse. It’s one that I find a little weird, but maybe it’s because I get wanderlust quite badly.

“Do you see yourself doing this for a long while?”

Why, yes. Yes I do.

That’s the short answer and the long answer is just as easy. I’ll travel for as long as I’m able, and to stop seems silly when historically I get antsy every few months anyway. Travel nursing is equal parts thrilling adventure and intense comfort zone stretch. What else can I do that allows me to care for a diverse variety of people, learn new skills regularly, improve on old ones, all while exploring a new city? It’s always fresh, always exciting, and that bit of anxiety pushes me to be better in my practice.

I pick up the best ways to do things because I’ve seen a lot. I learn evidenced based practice, techniques for decreasing discomfort, excellent ways to assist in descent of the baby, great pushing methods, interpersonal skills, conversational skills, and so forth.

There’s no chance for stagnation to get you!

It’s a fresh start just when I’m staying to get comfortable. Travel nursing requires you to be okay with change because this is rife with change. I find the change scary and energizing I need it to a certain degree. It stops that frustration and dissatisfaction the occasionally rears its head from getting the better of me.

I realized a long time ago that I was the type who thrived on seeing or doing something different. I’ve been a traveler with that need to explore for years. For a long time, that only played out in my leisure travel. Once it because an integral part of my travel life, I wondered why I hadn’t started sooner.

In many ways, I’m trying to prove to myself that I can do this. I can go anywhere and work. I can be a capable no matter where I am. My abilities and skills aren’t restricted by location or patient demographic or socioeconomic status. It’s proving to myself that I am a good nurse in general.

But honestly, why give up seeing new parts of the country? Why give up the freedom to vacation when I want? Why give up learning new things? Why give up trying the delicious foods?!

Mon brainer here.

I see myself doing this for as long as I can because how else am I going to get my travel fix? Wanderlust is a serious ailment and the only remedy is more frequent flier miles.

If you could travel, wouldn’t you??

Travel on, road warrior

Your granola is extra crunchy

This is going to come across as scolding or judgmental, but it’s more an observation born of years of nursing practice.

It has no bearing on the care I deliver.

No, it just makes me roll my eyes hard enough they threaten to fall out of my head sometimes.

In recent years there has been an increase in the special breed of folks I’ve labeled the crunchy granola crowd. The movement toward natural methods and care isn’t new. We all try, in some way, to forego western medicine or seek a natural way of stabilizing health. I’m a fan of yoga though at the moment I use it for its dual fitness/relaxation benefit.

Let me say this much first: when it comes to the labor process, everyone has the right to have the experience go how they feel it should go.

I stand by that fact. It’s your health and the health of your child. Ask the right questions. If you’re not sure why you’re being induced, speak up. Many people don’t and inducing a cervix that just isn’t ready means your baby is more likely to come out from above than below! If something isn’t medically necessary, ask why it’s being done. Educate yourself, ask good question, and work to understand the answers given. It’s your health here.

But leave your birth plan at home

The hospital is the Mecca of western medicine practice. While labor and delivery has moved to more hands off methods like kangaroo care, gentle c-sections, birthing centers with jacuzzi tubs, and rooming in/couplet care, it’s still big on intervention.

By coming in, having a doctor, being hooked to a monitoring system, you’re consenting to us taking steps if things appear to be going wrong.

Electronics fetal monitoring is a wonderful thing, but it’s also a double edged sword. It increases our rate of possible unnecessary intervention not decreases it! You’re walking around with low AFI (amniotic fluid index), or the baby has a cord around its neck, or contracting a ton. Not being hooked up to a monitor means you don’t know these things. They aren’t necessarily indicative of poor outcomes either. Many times you go the entire pregnancy and deliver and never know these are issues, but coming in and getting hooked up means we intervene. Just stating fact.

The trouble comes when people step in to a place ruled by western medicine and expect a natural, home birth experience. No intervention, no IV, labor in tub, walk, no medicine, no c-section, no shots, pills, nothing. They arrive with a birth plan typed up on card stock paper with a detailed description of what will happen.

To that I remind you… You are still just a layperson. I know medicine better than you do and WebMD surfing will not change that fact. I’m not saying that to offend but to remind. I don’t come to your office pretending to know how things work, do I?

I’m not the only person who see these people and shake my head. Because you’re so rigid with your expectations, you’re guaranteed to experience the exact opposite of what you wanted.

This is even more likely for the first time mommy who has never gone through the labor process. Labor pains are next level so unless your pain tolerance is amazing. Do. Not. Rule. Out. An. Epidural. Leave yourself open to it in case things become too much. Utilize your methods of pain control until that point, and ask good questions!

Epidurals are generally safe and carry no greater risk of injury than any other procedure.

I’m not saying this to discourage a detailed birth plan only to remind people that as your nurse, I have certain responsibilities.

*I must monitor you a certain amount of minutes every hour.
*I must start an IV especially if you’re GBS positive
*I must ask you about your pain level
*I have to make you sit down if your baby indicates it’s not tolerating labor

Patient advocacy is my aim, but I’m caught between obeying the patient’s wishes, following the doctor’s orders, and striving for good labor outcomes. Those who don’t come in with an open mind (and a 3 page birth plan) make the situation challenging. Don’t forget the odds of serious medical intervention increases the longer your birth plan is.

What about after delivery? There’s this movement lately with refusing shots and care for your child in order to remain natural. I’m not going to open that particular can of worms because it’s hot enough without my two cents. I will say this…

Living in a society as we do comes with a certain global responsibility. It’s very easy to believe the things we do only affect us, but we know that’s not true. We interact with others on a daily basis and that means we are responsible to each other to a degree. Immunization is a topic a feel strongly is group responsibility. We expect others to due diligence when it comes to not spreading sickness, right? We certainly rail against nurses who pass potentially deadly viruses around, but we aren’t the only people in this society with a certain responsibility to the whole. Think on that.

See? I didn’t make fun. Just observations.

I can only do one birth plan patient in a week. Bottom line: they are demanding, both medically and in general. More individual care is required to assist in the labor process and that’ll wear you out!

So have a little flexibility in your labor plan. Be as realistic as possible, ask good questions, and -most importantly- leave your birth plan at home.

Travel on, road warrior