I became a travel nurse one year after I started my career. Going into nursing school, I had my mind set on becoming a travel nurse and I didn’t want to waste any time! I started as a nurse on an oncology floor, and have done a few oncology assignments, but sometimes they’re harder to come across, especially for day shift. I only take day shift assignments. When I first started working I did nights for 6 months and it turned me into the equivalent of a constantly PMSing zombie. No fun.
Anyways, I thought I’d write my thoughts about the various facilities I’ve worked at and what kind of experiences I encountered there. It’s always fun to hear other travelers’ stories!
♦ HonorHealth Scottsdale Shea, Scottsdale, AZ: This was my first assignment and I could not have gotten luckier. It’s in a great area and I was there from November to February. PRIME WEATHER. It was 75-80 degrees and sunny nearly every day. Poolside in January? Yes please! I took company housing and was placed in a 1 bedroom apartment in Phoenix that had a parking garage and 2 pools. The hospital was clean, feels new, had good staffing ratios and a fair floating policy. I only floated one time to a MedSurg floor. To top it off, everyone was very helpful and accepting. I would highly recommend taking an assignment here, particularly in the winter.
♦ Montefiore Henry Moses, Bronx, NY: This was an EMR conversion assignment. In short, this is when hospitals change from one charting system to another. They hire a huge influx of travelers for a short period of time (usually 8 week assignments) to assist the permanent staff while they are in training classes all day. They are chaotic, but they pay very well. This assignment is my least favorite thus far. First off, it was a 48 hr/week assignment, which I found to be exhausting. If you’re going to take a 48 hr/week assignment, I would recommend it being 8 weeks! You could really regret it if you don’t like those extra hours and are stuck there for 13+ weeks. Typical patient ratios were 1:6 or 7. I floated all over the place. One day they floated me to the ER (second busiest ER in the country) to start IVs and draw labs on pretty much anyone who came through the doors. I was expected to take ventilated patients on a MedSurg unit with 6 other patients, which I refused to do, but then got persecuted by my charge nurse. The staff was helpful and the doctors were nice, but the chaotic daily routine wasn’t for me. For housing, I used my housing subsidy and found an apartment in the Bronx off AirBnB.
♦ Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, NYC: This was an outpatient assignment, which was brand new for me. I’m really glad that I got to do this assignment as a traveler. I always wondered if I would eventually make the transition into an outpatient setting, as a lot of nurses do. Taking an outpatient assignment let me dip my toes in the water without committing to a full-time job, and made me realize that outpatient probably isn’t for me. I’d highly suggest accepting an outpatient assignment to anyone who wants to try it out! I had a great experience at Memorial Sloan. Not only was it a huge honor to get to work at one of the best cancer centers in the country, I learned a LOT about radiation oncology. The doctors were great, the primary nurses I worked with very accepting and helpful, and I had a thorough orientation. For housing, I took the subsidy and got an apartment in Queens off AirBnB.
♦ Washington Regional Medical Center, NW Arkansas (my hometown): I took an assignment in my hometown to satisfy my 30 day requirement for my tax home (click here for more information about tax homes) and to spend the Holidays with my family! I ended up extending here and spent 5 months in total at this facility. Like any hospital, there were good and bad days here. Ratios were typically 1:5 or 6 and they didn’t make assignments based on acuity. You were given rooms 1-6, 7-12, etc., so some days were insanely busy and some days were pretty low-key. One shift I discharged 5 patients and instantly turned right around to admit 5. The discharge to re-admit time frame was extremely short. There were no charge nurses for each floor– there was one nursing director for the entire department, so teamwork was essential. Half of the hospital was travelers, so they were obviously very traveler friendly! For housing, Shawn and I lived with friends. I didn’t get a subsidy since this was a local assignment, not a travel assignment.
♦ John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek, CA: TAKE ME BACK. This place is a nurse’s heaven. Not only is the Bay Area one of the best places in the country to visit/explore, this hospital was incredible to work at. Typical ratios were 1:4 (rarely 5) and they had resource nurses for everything: central lines team, admit nurses, discharge nurses, and a lunch resource nurse. It gave me time to really focus on patient care and it’s clear that the hospital considers that a priority. The only negative to this hospital is that as a traveler, you can get floated mid shift (from 3-7). Getting an entire new team for only 4 hours is pretty stressful. Even still, I would highly recommend taking an assignment here!
♦ Research Medical Center, Kansas City, MO: This hospital has a pretty bad reputation for overworking their nurses. I was lucky enough to work on 4E, which is a small oncology unit with great teamwork. The terrible days were when I got floated to overflow MedSurg floors, where ratios were 6 or 7:1, charge nurses weren’t much help and I basically was drowning all day. The resources are majorly lacking and the meal service makes your job three times as hard because the food is never right and patients are always upset. If you take an assignment here, try to get one on the oncology floor or in the ICU.
Any other travelers have any good stories about their assignments? Share in the comments!