Monthly Archives: March 2015

What Is The First Day On An Assignment Like As A Travel Nurse? (with some history)

THE UNKNOWN… How does the sound of those two words make you feel?  Just the sound of those two words cause some anxiousness in my soul.  Don’t get me wrong. I love adventure.  Going places I have never been before and seeing new things that I could have only experienced limitedly by thumbing through travel magazines and books checked out from the library, learning the whole time.  But, the unknown in terms of work environment, schedule, personalities of leadership, organization, practices that go against my core beliefs about how birth can and should be, and compensation when you are trying to really understand the ins and outs of contract speak when you have dependants can be cause for measurable stress.  

Travel nursing as an idea then a way of life was originally brought about for what we believed it would give our children….homeschool on steroids.  The idea was rather terrifying to me.  Would my eight years of experience on an LDRP unit averaging 150 deliveries a month have me truly prepared for moving from one unit to another with very little orientation?  Do I have the skillset, am I a quick enough learner?  

I had heard that the traits of a good travel nurse was a solid skill set, friendly and warm, conversational, able to go with the flow (when in Rome), and have thick skin.  With that came the warning, “Don’t expect to find new best friends at every assignment.”  I knew I didn’t have thick skin did that mean I was doomed to fail.  

Often nurses leave their permanent positions because they are unhappy or feel unappreciated.  I wasn’t leaving my permanent job for any of those reasons, quite the opposite was true.  Each of my co-workers were like family that I grieved leaving.  Knowing that even if I was to come running back with my tail between my legs things at home would never be the same.

So much at risk was it really worth it?  This is about the time when “Oceans” came out by Hillsong United.  It must have been written just for me because it spoke to exactly where we were at at the time.  God was calling us “out upon the water where feet may fail.”  He gave us this dream, he was calling us, and he would be with us.  We could rely on him, when we couldn’t He could.  

There were tears on departure.  Having a going away party helped us get to celebrate our friendships and say goodbyes, sending us off with blessings, hugs, and fond memories.  The road trip to our first assignment felt like family vacation making us almost completely forget that we were headed into uncharted territory.  The first sight of the new hospital made my heart jump into my throat, remembering that we are called to be strong and courageous but most of all obedient.  

The first day on that first assignment was filled with computer competencies and tests.  The lady told me that if I didn’t pass them then my contract would be terminated, I had two tries, “but don’t worry everyone passes.” Yikes! There wasn’t much direction as to where to go and HR acted as if they weren’t expecting me.  I had to ask which way to go and what to do next.  It was obvious that I was a traveler and uncomfortable in that role, but there was no judgement in that.  I found my way to the new unit and was introduced to the manager, there was a short tour and staff introductions and then a chance to help with some triages.  The work was the same.  There is some testing of you by the staff but you can’t blame them for that.  Nurses miss represent themselves too often in travel nursing, heck, in life itself.  My philosophy on that is pretty simple and has served me well…it is way better for both of us if they know what they are getting and are not expecting something I can not deliver.  Otherwise, the work is the same, the meds are the same, and the charting system can be learned quickly.  Some providers are old school, some are disengaged or don’t remember ever being a patient themselves, others are very involved.  Most people will be patient with you and expect that you will ask a lot of questions.  If you didn’t have questions that, I’m pretty sure, would be a major red flag.  The providers won’t expect you to know their preferences.  Just ask and they will tell you as long as your brain is engaged they respect that.  Everyone has bad days, if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing and you get a sharp response don’t take it personal just let it roll off.  

The difficult personalities show themselves quickly and pretty much everywhere has them.  Remember you are there for your patients.  Spending more time with them and charting in the room as well as finding extra things you can do for them are good ways to deal with this sort of social situation as well as doing what that person has asked with a genuine smile no matter how rediculous or petty.  Also, thank them for anything they do that is helpful to you no matter how much more they could have done.  

I wish I could remember every details and probably I could if I went back and read my blog posts from each of those first days, but honestly I leave out a lot of the difficult parts, feelings, insecurities, moments where I really weighed in my head the cost of showing up with the consequence of not showing up.  It is like child birth in that by the end of one assignment you have forgotten the labor pains of the first few weeks on assignment as you hold the fruit of the current assignments investments in your hands.  Though as the first day of that next new assignment draw near you remember what labor was like.  You take a deep breath, hold it, jump in, and ride the waves.  At least now I know I have the skills.  It always works out.  

God has blessed me and in this endeavor we have been largely successful.  Sometimes I feel like people look at travel nursing with stars in their eyes.  I don’t really know why this bugs me so much.  I have never been one to choose the hard road on purpose, but this journey is changing me. 

Categories: Travel Nursing, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Rain Rain Go Away

We really headed to the Sunny side of the island to whale watch but we got too distracted by the awesome sun and waves that we forgot to whale watch.

We got there at 1:30pm and left just after 5:00pm and pretty much spent the entire time playing in the waves!!! The kids are getting quite brave with the waves and the two older ones are trying their hand at body surfing.  The consensus is that boogie boards are the only thing that could have possibly made today better.  I just hope the kids remember all these fun days.  Being together is what makes these memories so great.

Categories: Family Time, Hawaii local attractions, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nice rest on the beach

 With working 5 days this week we can’t afford to waste one of my days off sleeping.   I took a short rest while the kids did their school work then Chad got me up and we headed to the beach.  This beach has a rock jetti that protects a pool that had steps down into it and is all the perfect depth for Eve to play in being still able to touch pretty much everywhere.  I was cold from being over tired so I pulled on my sweater and curled into the kids pile of clothes they had taken off.  It was a perfect location for a nap and the kids had a blast just being kids and playing.  They made several friends and are already asking to go back.

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Being 45 minutes out of town has had its advantages and disadvantages.  The kids have really enjoyed the freedom to roam outside and use their imaginations, the birds and frogs make a continuous joyful noise, and the road out to our house can be best described as a roller coaster.  Infact one of the hills is called roller coaster hill.  While the commute is fun, I have to eat my way home in order to make it that far with out falling asleep, because let’s face it as all night shifters know. The windows down, music blasting, and face slapping does not really do anything.  This week my schedule is kind of crazy.  Two twelve hour night shifts, two eight hour night shifts, and one eight hour swing shift.  The one eight hour shift that I already completed I got called to come in early.  I don’t feel like it ever really pays to work over time as a traveler because so much of your paycheck is housing and incidentals that are not included in your hourly wage that it is a bit of a slap in the face to work a whole extra twelve hour shift of overtime and have your check be maybe $200 more, so as a rule I don’t do overtime as a traveler at least.  I am hoping to be put on call for one of my shifts this week, that would be great.  

We have been pleasantly surprised at how many activities in Hawaii are free.  Food is very expensive, but you can do that part reasonably if you stick to the foods that the locals eat.  Gas so far has been cheaper than the mainland. But the beaches, and parks are pretty much all free.  No charge for parking, no charge for entrance to state parks, so hikes and snorkeling are free as well as just chilling in the sun.   

Here are a few pictures of what the kids have been doing to entertain themselves!  Checking out waterfalls, dancing in the rain, water fights, coloring on the cement with chalk they found, coloring brown paper bags, catching frogs, long walks, checking out lizards, swimming, finding shells, and making forts and boats out of branches they have found.  Have a blessed week love the Owens family!

Categories: Hawaii local attractions, Travel Nursing, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Panaluu, Kalae, & Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau

I am disheartened after writing quite a bit of this post just to have it deleted so hear goes round two most likely more brief.  When we woke up this morning we really didn’t have any kind of plan for the day but we know from experience that three months isn’t long enough to really waste any time and still see the things we hope to see while we are here.  We thumbed through the guide book and decided to see another one of the national parks that just happened to be near Kona on the other side of the island.  We were driving along just minding the GPS when we saw a sign for a black sand beach.  Although we have seen black sand we had not yet been to a black sand beach and it was on the top of Hannah’s most want to do in Hawaii list, so we turned and checked it out.  Panaluu County Black sand beach was a hit.  The smell of BBQ was in the air.  Hammocks hanging on the coconut palms. 

From there we kept on towards the west side. Then Chad made a turn off the main road…where was he going?  I don’t usually ask right away because often it becomes obvious, but the GPS kept chirping directions at us so I asked if Chad wanted me to turn it off.  It was a small one lane road. And the scenery was perfect.  

We had talked about seeing the green sand beach at breakfast, but it requires a hike and it was lunch time and we hadn’t packed a lunch.  That is not where Chad was going he was taking us to the most southern point in the United States!  Yay so fun! A whole bunch of people were there.  Not to say they had been to this point, but to cliff jump.  It was kind of fun to watch them.  

 That was a fun detour!  

Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historic Park was surprisingly awesome.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect and we were a little grouchy and hungry it was 2:00pm and we still had not had lunch, there aren’t that many places to stop for food on the drive around the southern tip of the island.  We got in on the 2:30 ranger talk which was hilarious and gave us the jest of the history of this historic park.  It was a safe haven called by many “city of refuge” a reference from the Bible. Where people could go to find sanctuary if they were guilty of breaking the sacred laws (kapu).  

I could live in a bungalow here. 

A day of fun surprises! 

Categories: Fulltime, Hawaii local attractions, National Park, Road Trip | 2 Comments

Lava Old and New

Today we visited Lava Tree State Monument It is a park that shows a lava flow from 1790 through ha heavily forested section of the jungle near Pahoa.  The lava flowed around and up tree trunks then the heat from the lava burned the tree leaving castings.  Trees that have since grown back up in that area have very shallow root systems because of the thick layer of lava rocks so close to the surface of the soil.  A big wind, the kind that can happen frequently on this side of the island is all it takes to blow these trees down.  A few have been left how hey landed and show just how shallow the root systems are. It was cool to see and the constant chorus of birds singing was the best kind of white noise in the world.  

The night before I had a patient who had been evacuated from her home in November or December for the most recent lava flow so she had told me where to look.  Just up the volcano from Pahoa at the transfer station you can see the December flow. 

Fences to protect people who think it might be a good idea to climb on the not completely cooled lava….sometimes I am amazed at what has to be done to protect people from themselves.  This being maybe 10 miles from our house we headed home for dinner.  After dinner it started raining.  I said that the kids should go out and play in the rain half kidding.  Eve came in dripping wet minutes later asking if I wanted to play with her. I hadn’t even realized she had snuck outside.  I didn’t get in on the dancing in the rain, but I did go outside to get pictures. 

 When the rain stopped it turned into a watertight with a hose and watering can.  Then we watched Diners Drive-Ins and Dives and went to bed. 

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Panaewa zoo

Today when Sarah came home from work to sleep she asked where we were going today. I got the hint that she wanted us out of the house so I loaded up the kids and took them to the zoo. We had seen it every time we drive from Hilo. Turns out that it is free. The kids absolutely loved it.





The kids favorite part of it was seeing the giant anteater.


The could hardly wait to tell mom about it and are already begging to take her back with us.

It made for a really fun day.






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The kids got invited to a birthday party today. It was one of their new friends from church. It turned out to be a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. I even got a chance to hang my new hammock.



All the kids at the party had a lot of fun hanging and swinging in it.  It was definitely the highlight of the party.



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Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

This national park is a short drive from our house and seemed like a good way to start off our school week and celebrate our anniversary as I work tomorrow on the actual day. We got a late start because we had to fuss with the instant hot water heater because the pilot light will not stay lit.  No success was had with that so we quickly took our cold showers, dressed, ate breakfast, and then spent an hour or so trying to download pictures off of my phone to clear up memory for the new ones that would be put on there today.  The kids got their school work done for the day before we left the house.  We weren’t stressing about time. We wanted to be there until dark to see the glow of the lava in the distant crater that is invisible during daylight so later was actually better.  The sign at the entrance warned that the air quality was poor today.  We checked out the first visitors center, bought our patches and had a last minute pit stop before heading out on our first hike, the sulfer basin trail.

We then hiked a segment of the crater rim trail and checked out the lava house before heading back to the car for our Musubi lunch.

 We tried a few other different not marketed in the main land products with lunch as well today.  All were a hit.

We learned a lot about the Hawaiian goddess  Pele of the volcano.  There is a picture of her in our house that I thought was a little bazaar now I know what it is.

We then drove the scenic 40 mile drive where the lava had been flowing into the ocean.

Being a farther distance and a larger roped off path the kids were able to climb in the rocks more and that made for some good fun.  We saw 6-7 whale spouts a few of those breeched the surface of the water as we watched.  I just love whale watching and could do that alone all day.  We then did another section of the rim trial.

The Thirston Lava tubes which were quite sad when  compared  to Ape Caves  in Washington, but still they were fun to walk through. 

Our last hike was two miles down and across a crater that besides vents is not currently oozing its lava and must be safe enough to walk out on or they wouldn’t let us right?

This hike took us a while as the kids were getting tired.

Chad and I took turns carrying Eve back up to the top.  As the darkness settled in on us the bright orange glow of the lava was visible.

We didn’t stay until it was completely dark.  It was starting to rain and the kids were tired and cold.  We may come back again though if we get a clear night just to watch the glow in the clear night sky.

Categories: Hawaii local attractions, Homeschool, National Park, Uncategorized | Leave a comment


You can’t truly have the hawaiian experience with out mixing in some of their traditional foods.  Rice has been on our menu pretty much daily since it is so reasonable in comparison to other foods but also we have been eating a lot of the local produce such as lychee, guava (they taste like sour strawberries to me.  I love them.  The hard seeds do get stuck in your teeth a bit and you can eat the whole thing it does not need to be peeled or seeded), mango, pineapple, and a lot of coconuts that we have found.  The girls at work have shared an awesome tapioca dish with me that I now need to try to find the recipe for but first Musubi.  Musubi is easy to make, easy to store, easy to eat on the go; it is a must have for every hawaiian sack lunch.  It is made with sticky rice, spam of course, soy sauce, brown sugar, and nori (sea weed). 

The spam slices are approximately 1/4″ thick 9-10 slices out of each can of spam.  We only made one can in case you were worried.  The  rice was started and the frying pan warmed up.  A little soy sauce and brown sugar to season each slice of spam and into the pan it went. 

The nori had perforated lines in it to indicate where to separate the strips however it didn’t just tear on the line or even fold on the line so we turned to scissors which worked great. 

We lined all the containers with plastic wrap to make it easy to lift out.  The plastic wrap was temperamental and hard to work with.  After round one we discovered the spam can to be the best Musubi making vessel.  

Chad cut the bottom of the can off so all we had to do is pack the can then push it  through and wrap it afterwords.  Now that we have all that assembly line down they are looking pretty good.  

All wrapped and ready for lunch on the volcano. 

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