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? ☺️😊

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.

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

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.

The End

Sorry for the radio silence over the last few months. As time has ticked by from week one to week 17 of this last stint, I think I have a great idea for something to say, but then life would get away from me. In the end, what started out as something I wasn’t so sure about ended up being an assignment that I found enjoyable. Having not worked with the demographic common to my home state in a long time, it was good to be closer to home and get reacquainted with the issues of Appalachia.

But being done, the approaching end of the year, and life in general has had me thinking of ending.

Things always end. Always. The recent death of someone I knew drove home how sudden the end can come. Life is finite in ways I forget until confronted with death. How we don’t consider meeting our maker until we are step out of this life into the next. It makes me take account of how I’ve led my life so far. 32 years is long enough to make mistakes, have regrets, have great accomplishments, and joys. What can I say about myself in the end?

On a less morbid note…

I talk often about leaving a legacy. Even if I never return to a place I’ve worked at, I hope I leave behind the impression of a person who works hard. More than that, I hope I leave the idea of kindness in some form. I admit I gripe at work, but I hope my attitude with my patients and coworkers overall is one of helpfulness and giving.

There’s joy and sorrow in endings, but life continues on even in the midst of both emotions. 2016 (a not so fun year) will end. It’ll usher in a new beginning with its ending. It’ll have left its mark, for good and bad.

Remember me fondly even when my mistakes are unearthed. Remember my care, my compassion, my concern, my humor, and my smile. When I’m gone, remember those things because that’ll be all I can leave behind.

On to new beginnings. San Jose after the New Years! Too soon to be worried about anything except vacation.  I’ll try blogging a little more often now. Until then, thinking on your legacy.

Disappoint

My brother and I were trolling New Orleans when a particular topic of conversation came up. A source of past commonality was revealed and after a pause, my brother utters,

“I’m not saying I’m disappointed…”

I stopped him right there by saying I knew he was or he wouldn’t have said that. Off the pedestal I came, which is all right with me.

It stuck me as funny how we handle other people’s sin and mistakes. I’ve said in the past that we have issues with compassion, but I’d add we have issues with forgiveness as well.

It’s not in us to forgive readily. We harbor grudges, we avoid, we allow other’s mistakes to prejudice us against them. I do this! I am that person. I admit it takes a large amount of Godly leading to prompt my heart to forgive when someone lets me down, betrays me, or disappoints me in some way. I find it easier to hold on to that because why let it go and give someone the chance to hurt me again?

Forgiveness is never for the direct benefit of the person being forgiven and always for the person doing the forgiving. As hard as it is to let things go and say you’re letting someone off the hook, the healing you receive is so much better.

Hurt doesn’t disappear overnight, but it fades. A clear heart gives a clear head.

I’m not implying my relationship with my brother is different because of something I’ve done, but things change and maybe that change is for the better.

We aren’t perfect. I. Am not. Perfect. I’m also not the kid I was when I was in high school. I’ve made mistakes and I need to be transparent about that for my own spiritual growth. It’s okay to admit that because I think revealing our feelings can help others grow spiritually as well.

It leads me into thoughts of repentance. It’s not a new thought in my life, but it’s one I always have to rediscover. One I’ll probably be talking about in this space.

As you can see, I’m more than just my travel experience. I’m here trying to figure things out.

To the journey ahead…

Nurse C signing out