Hi! I’m Gelli, and four months ago, I finally hung up my travel shoes. After all the wonderful adventures I’ve experienced because of this gypsy life, I chose to pause the ride and rekindle my love for routine.
It was November of 2016 when I started my career as a travel nurse. I totally fell in love with it. I met people from different upbringings, learned useful techniques from different nurses and absorbed hospital policies I never knew existed. Not only did it improve my nursing skills, it also allowed me to wander- I tasted sumptuous local food and explored cities of unique character and nature.
I went to Lufkin and met wonderful people. I met Pearl, Heilene, Ray, Jessica, Beth, Shaquioa, and the rest of Woodland Heights peeps. This was my first assignment and it felt surreal. I never expected it to be a breeze. Prior to this assignment, I expected the WORST. Believe me, I heard and read a lot of horror stories- staff hating you, getting the worst assignment, high loads, tough learning curve. I embraced change knowing all of these things. Fortunately, this hospital is far from those, this became my home away from home. The staff were very accommodating. I also met other travel nurses from other states. It was fun! It opened my eyes to a lot of opportunities. I even extended my assignment from the original three months to six months.
It was also during this assignment that I was able to taste Jollibee again, the famous Filipino food chain in Houston. We were able to go there thrice, I think, being only 2 hours away from Lufkin. And since my assignment city is only 3-4 hours from New Orleans, I was also able to experience the crowd in the very celebrated Mardi Gras. Not only that, I will never forget that time I went to an RV show. There was a seed of dream that was implanted in my heart- that someday, I will own a rig like the one I saw. Imagine having a house on wheels, OMG.
In those six months, I hopped from one adventure to another. Made my way to Kemah Boardwalk and Bourbon St. Visited WWII museum and science center. Did hikings and walked long trails. It was fun and exciting but I had to move on and find another location.
Virginia captured my heart next. I thought it was only first timer’s luck that I had a wonderful assignment in Lufkin. To my surprise, there are many other beautiful places and welcoming hospitals out there, and Centra in Lynchburg is definitely one of them. I met people whom I highly respect- Debra, Nicole, Sharon, Holley, Hannah, Anne and many others. Although I was not positioned in Cardiac Telemetry like I would want to, I enjoyed my time in Diabetic-Renal unit. It was there that I experienced having three low acuity patients in one shift. It was the most amazing shift, let me tell you. The quality of care is really there with the right nurse to patient ratio.
Aside from the fine working environment in the hospital, the majestic caverns in Luray are what stood out in my memory. Nature has its way of connecting to us, and those mineral formations truly spoke to me. Masterpieces aren’t made overnight. It is constant work and nonstop building and creating. I came to a realization that there is an amazing end piece in consistency.
I extended my stay in Virginia, too. It was an easy six months. Not because the patients are easy but because my coworkers are easy to work with. I can see why Brooke (one of the travellers) stayed and applied for a permanent position. Who wouldn’t? If only my apartment is close by. Or my boyfriend’s family lives there too. There are many pros in my list: The atmosphere isn’t toxic. There are many restaurants to try. The cost of living is just right.
Both of my travel assignments served me well. So why did I quit if the adventure was amazing?
I left to learn more. I am the type of person who gets bored easily with the same set of skills. I realized that it’s not the hospital or travel destination that would solve the issue. At the end of the day, it’s what satisfies me.
Travel nursing helped. Great paycheck was a bonus. But the added learning that I’m craving for didn’t go away. I realized I wanted to change something.
I knew at this time, changing my specialty altogether is what I needed.
After a series of hospital haunt and two interviews, I ended up in Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit. I know I won’t be able to travel again until I hit two years in this specialty. But I am enjoying my time in ICU like it was meant for me. I am learning so so much. There is no denying that I may get tired of this pace and setting someday. After all, it’s a permanent staff position.
But I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.
I signed a two-year contract with a local hospital and got a sign-on bonus that sealed the deal for me. I honestly didn’t expect it but I’m thankful for it. My coworkers are nice, responsible, and welcoming. The unit is small because it’s highly specialized but it feels like family. The cases are interesting and the doctors are the best neurosurgeons and pulmonologists in the valley. I love that the company I’m working for values professional growth more than anything else. It’s also an extra point that we can choose our schedule to accommodate any extra job or advance education that we’re trying to get.
I quit travel nursing, and all I know is, it’s for the best reason.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.“
Right now, I’m on my last week of my first ever travel nursing assignment. It’s been a crazy ride for our career and this blog, I must say. Everything seemed to happen so fast that I missed tracking some important events in this journey. But for now, I’m going to share with you the things we considered when extending our contract.
November of last year when Luis and I finally took the leap of faith and ventured into this journey that is travel nursing. Many wonderful things happened since. Fast forward to this day and five months after, here we are: finally leaving Lufkin and moving on to our next destination. But aren’t you supposed to only have 13 weeks? I know, I get that question a lot.
Travel assignments usually last for 8-13 weeks. The contract depends on patient load, season, and overall need of the hospital.
Initially, we signed up for a thirteen-week assignment. And we loved it! I couldn’t explain this more but everything about workload and work environment are amazing.
Why did we stay?
After our 13 weeks, we received an email saying that we are eligible to extend. To be able to qualify for an extension, travel nurses should be able to pass according to the facility’s standards. Some staff are generally asked about our performance, work ethics, and how we carry ourselves. Are we knowledgable enough? Are we competent enough? Do we follow hospital policy? Do we break house rules? Are we good with our patients? Do we communicate well with staff?
Those were just sample questions that I heard from staff and management. To keep it short, it basically assesses whether the hospital wants to keep us or not. So being able to receive the extension offer, we are really elated! It’s our first assignment so we didn’t really expect much.
Here are the reasons we extended aka the pros of extending our travel nursing assignment:
1. No need for adjustment
We already know the different policies of the hospital. Where to get stuff. Who to call for this. How their equipment work. How people coordinate with other staff. Everything seems to be easy peasy when you familiarize yourself with these little bumps while working.
2. Higher paycheck, same expenses
When we accepted the extension offer, we tried to negotiate. If they wanted us real bad, they should be able to give us what we want. We were able to agree with $100 increase per week. It’s not much compared to what other travel nurses are requiring when they ask for a deal, but it’s already enough for us. From $1,400+ take home (tax already excluded) per week, we’re able to earn $1,500/wk.
3. More time to explore the place
Lufkin is a small city but is strategically located between Houston and Louisiana. There is not much to see in Lufkin, honestly. However, it is only two hours away from Houston so we were able to go in that amazing city whenever we like.
I even got the chance to experience Rodeo Houston!
And even watch THE Alicia Keys!
It is truly one for the books! Five months in this place but it is still too short to try their incredible and amazing local restaurants! I promise to make a post about it. They are just so good!
4. Getting to know people on a deeper level
During our whole stay, we got the chance to befriend some of the coolest and friendliest people on earth. We’re really happy that our coworkers in Woodland Heights are accommodating and simply amazing! More time staying means more time to be with these awesome people.
5. No need to pack. Again.
The only hassle of traveling often is the whole preparation thing. I just hate packing.
Packing sheet! lol ok. It’s meant to be a pun because I don’t swear. It’s a breeze not to load all your stuff at the back of the car and squeeze them to bits just to fit everything we have. We’re still new at this and no matter how many pinterest boards I make to keep me organized, it just takes so much time. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
All is well, right? But…
Why do we need to go?
No matter how many pros I include in this list, extending a contract has its fair share of consequences as well. The gypsy in us is going to agree with these cons:
1. Homesickness will eventually kick in.
Travel is a great way to explore the world and find yourself. But being away from home for too long doesn’t do you good also. You miss events, family gatherings, and the feeling of being in your comfort zone. Luis told me that this is one thing that he’d never outgrow and I totally get it. If I’m given the chance to be with my family, sign me up! Good thing we were able to have our two-week off after our thirteen weeks assignment. Our recruiter is the best. We super love her! #TeamKelly
2. Limits in professional growth
One of the many reasons I signed up for travel nursing is discovering more of my potential. With different sets of people/coworkers, I learn more techniques and nursing interventions that enable me to become a better nurse. If I stay in one place, I’m afraid I’d miss out on that chance to improve my skills and knowledge.
There is no wrong being comfortable in your work space, however, when you see yourself starting to become complacent, it’s asking for danger. Nursing is not the profession for “routine work.” Nothing is ever a routine. And when it feels like it does, that means you’re doing something wrong or something that doesn’t contribute to your patient care. When you see yourself doing the same thing over and over, and you feel like it’s “getting old,” it’s the gypsy soul saying, “it’s time to move.”
4. Workplace politics
When you start working in a new facility, you don’t know anybody. You don’t know whose team is late or early at work. You don’t know who’s the most hated nurse or the most strict nurse leader, or basically the center of every gossip. But when you stay longer than you should, believe me, you’re gonna play favorites eventually, and you wouldn’t want that. Peace of mind while at work is my jive. Taking care of sick people is already stressful. Spare me from negativities!
5. More destinations
When you extend a contract, that means that’s another contract in another place that you didn’t apply for. And while everything is doing great in Lufkin, I just feel like there is so much more in the US that I want to explore! When I first got here, I didn’t even know where Lufkin is. I didn’t have any idea how much good vibes this place would bring me. And I know there are more places like this that I need to discover! So we hopped on to our next destination— VIRGINIA!
I am so excited to go there and I’m already pinning locations that we are planning to visit. Follow me on Pinterest to see these boards!
To travel nurses reading this, what are your thoughts on extending a contract?
Also, let me know your pet peeves when packing.
I badly need to avoid those for our next road trip.