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.

Jesus Take The Wheel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Travel on, Road Warrior

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.

Revisit: What makes a good traveler?

Nearing the end of week 4. Out of the blue, I was required to attend new employee orientation yesterday. This is contract two, by the way. You know my feelings about hospital orientations so I won’t revisit it. I will say my brain can’t handle 8+ hours of listening to someone talk. I’ve always been sympathetic of students in a class room setting because of it. 

Anyway, I wanted to redux a topic. I ask the question what makes a good traveler in the title, but what I’m hinting at is something else entirely. 

What makes a traveler well received on a floor?

Some places you go, no matter what you do people aren’t going to like you. You could be the best nurse and traveler, but they’re in the middle of contract negotiations and travelers (somehow) become a threat to their jobs (not really). That can mean no amount of ability or friendliness will endear you to them. 

The above situation sucks, but isn’t always routine. I’m referring to normal more relaxed assignments. There are ways to ease into the floor without much push back. Here is my short list 

  • Don’t come in spouting talk about how xyz hospital did it better. Not on the first day at least. Most people are used to how they do things and can get defensive with talk about how someone else does it better. Make it a casual comment or a topic of conversation, but don’t make it a way to put the place you’re working down. 
  • Keep your voice (and head) down. Some people are boisterous so I’m not saying dim your shine, but be mindful of tone. The place you’re at may not be the loud jokey type and it can be off putting. Go in cool until they get know you and then shine bright like a diamond. 
  • Don’t brag about the money. No one likes a braggart. Permanent staff already view travelers as cash cow, money hogs out to take take take. You may be there for the paycheck, but don’t make that all they see or hear from you. 
  • Be open to ideas. I mean, everyone does it different, but you may learn the best practice at this place if you’re open minded. 
  • Show your best from the start. People have a perception of travelers. They believe we don’t always give 100% because we don’t have true ownership. Show them you’re serious about your craft out the gate, willing to jump in, and you’ll get respect (albeit grudging initially). 

This is just my perception from what I’ve seen after almslt 3 years of traveling. You can usually tell who won’t survive and who will. Be the traveler who survives. 

It’s not always easy. I’m learning a lot still. Namely when it comes to making more money and being in the best places in the country. This, traveling can be as rich as you want it to be so keep your mind open and you head above water. 

Travel on, road warrior. 

Solo traveler

I must be a little more nervous about starting back to my home hospital on the floor. I was having nightmares about it last night. 😳

I find traveling to be both exciting and disconcerting at times.

A single female in a new city alone for 3 months? That takes guts and a full can of pepper spray.

Back to the exciting part…

Traveling, to me, is the best way to see and immerse yourself in the unknown. Every place you visit on assignment has the potential to be the place you decide to settle down for good.

So how can you enjoy a new city in a safe way? You don’t need to be cloistered in your house and there’s more to traveling than just working all day. Or sleeping when you’re not working.

At least one great site to check to discover what’s going on in your city is Meetup. I confess to under-utilizing this site, but I have taken advantage of this so I know it’s legit.

Meetup gives you the opportunity to enter your interests, as diverse as they may be, and find groups in the immediate area that are doing activities you might enjoy.

You like sewing? The Super Sewing group meets every Thursday at the knitting shop just down the street. Join up and any time you have off hit that up! It allows you to find commonality with a group of people while engaging in something you enjoy. If you’re shy, it takes the pressure of finding friends on your own in a new city off.

Contrary to what most believe, I’m not the chattiest person which can make new cities daunting. Actually, after I got off orientation on OB and finally relaxed a bit, another nurse told me she wasn’t sure at first that I’d fit in. Traveling has helped me be a little more open.

I’ve learned to go out and explore alone, eat alone, make new friends. I’ve also learned the merits of being alone, too. Solo travel doesn’t have to be lonely. You learn a high level of independence and happiness from striking out on your own. It can be incredibly enriching.

Come home between assignments if you get homesick, but remember this gypsy life is what you make it. Learn something new about yourself and keep learning.

On to the next new adventure!

Travel on, road warrior.

What week am I on? 

I believe I’m down to 5.5 weeks? 

Sorry I’ve been super quiet. Between a stretch of shifts, my birthday, and switching back to nights I’m not exactly brimming with things to talk about. 

I’ll just touch on a couple of thoughts quickly. Some are work related and some… Aren’t? 

1. A small mental shift 

I talk to a good friend of mine about once a week. It’s an opportunity to share both spiritually and about the wide variety of topics in the world. I appreciate the depth of our conversations on many levels. Especially when it comes to topics that Christians have a tendency to beat to death and alienate others over. It’s refreshing to my soul. 

Recently, my friend passed along an article about a man with a particular inclination Christians like to crusade against. His issue isn’t what I cared about, but the heart of what he discussed is. He mentioned that when coming to God, He isn’t worried so much about the issue you’d like to get rid of, but about changing our hearts to see our need for Him. The sin is always a manifestation of our trying to do things apart from Him, but the more we change our minds (the more He changes our minds) the less that sin or issue will manifest. 

I’m paraphrasing poorly, but the core of it hit me. I ask constantly for my sins to be removed from me so I’ll stop doing them. God says come closer to me, let me change the heart of you first, the rest is just a reflection of that need. Paul asked for his thorn or affliction to be removed, but God said His power is made perfect in our weakness. Stuff doesn’t just go away, but God is in the heart fixing business and as hearts mend behaviors alter. Will my struggles always be struggles for me? Yes, I believe they will, but that’s okay. Not a license to continue, but an understanding of it not being the root problem. It’s not about the struggle itself anyway, but my heart. I’ll let that get worked on first. 

2. I took a job back home 

Well, kinda…

It may surprise people, but I took an OPT position back home. It’s not uncommon for people to remain per diem at their old perm hospital when they travel, but I gave mine up when I started because… I traveled too much. Only being home between contracts 2 days makes it tough to convince myself to work. 

I realized though, I need a home base work place again. Even though I initially had some anxiety about it (mostly because it feels too permanent. Yes, I know I’m crazy) I realized I needed to do this. You can’t think in what ifs, but my mother is getting older and I know a time will come soon when I’ll need to stop traveling and come home. Being established and having a small amount of roots is important even if it scares me 

Which leads to my next point 

3. I don’t have an assignment yet 

As I’ve mentioned before, I like having my next assignments well in advance. Months in advance actually. This time I’m coming up short. Partly because I need to get in hospital orientation at UHC (5 days. 5. Days. Why? Just… Why??? I’m a former employee. What’s changed in a year?) and because I only want to work 8 weeks. 

I’ve interviewed a few hospitals and altered my plan. Turned a few down and been turned down by a few. Decided to change to 13 weeks which takes me through the new year. With 5 weeks left, an iffy start date because of  orientation, and not even being sure what state I’ll end up at, I’m getting nervous. I shouldn’t be nervous, but I am. 

Where will I be next? I’m waiting to hear if Inova will accept 13 weeks, if Martha’s Vineyard will accept my start date, or if someone else better will call. I don’t know and I hate not knowing. 

That’s it for now. Sorry for the unusual radio silence. Life is being life right now and I’m just trying to stay awake to enjoy it. I’ll keep you updated as I figure things out, eh? 

Travel on, road warrior. 

Temp ACK Girl: Girl, Bye

That’s all folks. 8 weeks have come and gone, taking me with them. 

Always saying goodbye and 8 week assignments mean I said goodbye pretty fast. So it’s back to a faster pace for 13 weeks! 

No matter how I feel about a hospital it’s been great to know I’ve worked with a lot of really great people. When people include you in their festivities, ask you out to activities, and throw  going away parties for you it feels like you’re a part of the staff. I hope my next assignment has staff that make me feel welcomed and included. 

Bottom line: just because I’m not staff doesn’t mean I want to be treated differently. I’m still a nurse there to help make things easier for the people I’m alongside. It’s me or unsafe staffing situations. I’d like to think I’m an okay enough person you’d take me. 

I’m hoping the next place understands and extends that hospitality. There are countless stories of travel nurses getting dumped on or being treated poorly by perm staff. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but I’d rather derive my strength from 30 minutes on the treadmill instead of a terrible patient load, thankyouverymuch. I’m not there to destroy your Union or undermine your job. I’m just there to help

So off to help. Well, actually I’m off to rest before I pack and ease on down the road to Worcester.  Then I’m off to help. I need these 3 days off to just be and repack. 

Travel on, road warrior 

Temporary ACK girl: week 1.5

Late for last week’s recap and I don’t want to do two posts so it’s two weeks in one.

What a view

What a view

Back on Nantucket! It’s nice in some ways, not so nice in others. Coming back to a familiar place has a few perks as a traveler. One of which is no orientation. It’s been less than 6 months since I was here last so I avoid that very boring, often repetitive, extremely tedious hospital orientation.  Glory, glory! The other thing I like is it’s one day to see what’s changed and I can jump right in without missing a beat. A couple of times I had to toss out the, “wait, what am I doing again for this?”, but overall it’s awesome to be on a floor the first week and know exactly what to do in minutes.

I enjoy changing from busy to a little laid back. Don’t get me wrong, busy here is far different from a facility that does 250+ deliveries a month, but it’s easy to be swamped if there’s only two of you and 4 people walk in at the same time. Inadequate staffing can make even a low census place dangerous. Still, the slow down does a body good.

My goal when I post here is tactful honesty and if I had to outline my issues with this place I’d start here: TOO MANY CHEIFS, NOT ENOUGH INDIANS

Every place is plagued by management that has no idea how a floor runs. Let me specify it’s upper management not floor managers. Well, usually. I try my hardest not to get sucked into politics, but when you’re some place too long the circus likes to give you monkeys to train. Not my circus, not my monkeys!

I have to remind myself that I’m not here forever, just to help. Miring oneself in hospital politics when that place isn’t your perm home is dangerous. You don’t have the protection of the Union when it comes firing time. I don’t know about you, but scrambling to find a new position out of the blue is not my idea of a good time.

I may have problems, but I attempt to voice them through the proper channel. I try working it through the manager or whatever liaison is there at the hospital, but I always keep my recruiter informed. If you have to bail because it’s unsafe, or the contract is getting dicey, or anything your recruiter has to know so they’ll have your back. I keep those assignments short and sweet so risk is minimal

Here’s the cool part of going back though, knowing exactly where to eat and go as well as the festivals. Here’s a few photos from Daffodil festival this past weekend. Wine festival is in a couple of weeks and I’ll make my migratory trip into Beantown. I’m all about the good.