I did get put on call one of my three shifts so my first day shift week picture is based only on two days. So far I love it! It is way more busy than most of the nights. It starts in a wirlwind of activity as all the nights inductions are delivered, and scheduled c-sections come in and are delivered, then the NSTs (a non stress tests is where we monitor the baby and look for signs of wellbeing for a short time usually less than an hour) get sent in from their providers offices as they are needed. With all the commotion and busyness slowing down about 4:00pm in just enough time to get the unit all cleaned up restocked, and looking like we did nothing all day by the time night shift arives. The busyness passes the time quickly and the nurses have all been so helpful and friendly. There is nothing that makes me love nursing more than the times where teamwork shines. It is like that feeling, in basketball, when you have practiced all the plays and know them like the back of your hand. The opposing team tries to pull a full court press and your team (including you) pass and moves the ball down the court scoring effortlessly like the opposing team is not even there.
HMC first week on days
Eleven Years Too Long
Northwest Nazarene University has given me a lot of things the meeting of my husband for one, a great education for another, life long friends and professors who I can look up to. Whenever I am going through town (Nampa Idaho) I try to stop in and at least see the campus and on occasion when school is in session and I know the teachers are there I have visited. I didn’t know a week ago that I would get the chance to catch up with one of my professors here on the big island until a just landed in Kona post crossed my FaceBook feed. A tentative coffee date turned lunch date was set and today we were blessed with the oportunity to visit with Judy Taylor one of my main nursing professors at NNU the years that I was there in the program. We started at graduation and talked about what we have been doing since. She was wonderful with Hannah and Eve who joined me on this outing. We loved to see the dolphins, reef sharks, turtles, and monk seal who lived out side the hotel. And, the kids have been telling everyone we see about the pools and slides.
Thank you Judy for the wonderful day it was so good to see you! Thank you Lord for the blessing of this visit with a college mentor!
I really didn’t think we would get to see actual lava in our time here. Yes we had been to the volcano and observed the glow from the caldera at night, that was way cool, but we couldn’t say that we saw the actual lava. For the last two days people have been saying the magma chamber is full and it is visible at the top! Could it really be true!?! We rested at the house and read until 3:00pm when we made our way to the volcano. You have to go early in the day to get a parking spot at the overlook. In broad daylight you could see streams of orange lava bubble up. If you could see it mid day it was going to be good come night. To keep the kids entertained until then was going to be the trick. We opted for the 0.5 mile hike to check out the campground.
It ended up being the perfect choice!!!! So so beautiful and relaxing as it was a short distance and we were out to waste time.
By the time we got back we only had an hour and a half to wait. The kids and I read books in the bookstore until 7:00pm when it was finally dark. These guys are good at volcanos but maybe not so good at math. It should say 32 years according to their dates I only noticed because it is near my birthdate and year. (I’m getting old)
I could have sat with a blanket on the rock wall for many more hours. Simply mesmerizing! Better than fireworks and that says a lot because they are one of my favorite things ever. This will probably be the only time in our whole lives that we will see molten lava a few football fields away from us. We have been so blessed to experience this. God’s amazing creation is so awe inspiring.
Out of my 120 hours of work in 10 days I worked all but 17 hours (on call for the first 5 hours of the first shift and all 12 hours of the last shift). Still crazy. All by grace I was put on call my last twelve and was not called in all night. I woke up early in the morning to enter my timecard online before the 8am deadline and Hannah made coffee for me and brought it out. We enjoyed the birds and the morning light.
I am probably not picky enough on the wording of my expected schedule in the contracts I have had, but somethings I don’t think of because it never crossed my mind that it might happen. My first assignment I was surprised by my schedule because no one had told me that I would be scheduled for four days one week three the next alternating and I didn’t have guaranteed hours, I learned really fast that guaranteed hours are VERY important. Ok, you got me this time. On my next assignment the schedule was pretty good and I had my 36 guaranteed hours. Switching day shift to night shift was the only thing, but honestly I kind of liked that, and I knew from the interview that would be part of the deal. On the next assignment I remembered the guaranteed hours again, it was self scheduling, but I couldn’t schedule until last and the days with the fewest people were always the weekends so I worked pretty much every weekend. It wasn’t my favorite but it wasn’t all bad either. This assignment I was warned that I would be put on call a lot and that they would schedule me for 40 hours a week but I was only guaranteed 30. I would still receive my full stipend if I was put on call as long as I had an initial on my time card saying that I had been scheduled my full hours but had been put on call. When I got here I was informed it was really 60 hours guaranteed in two weeks not necessarily thirty hours each week. Okay. I am not a fan of being scheduled four or five days a week. Granted that one of my shifts this week is a call shift and I have an added shift because a coworker asked to trade a day from next week for a day this week so she could go to a funeral and I’m a softy, but my schedule for the last week and a half had been atrocious. All night shifts. Three shifts on one shift off, three shifts on one shift off have already been worked and now I start four more shifts on (it’s a total of six days working this calendar week). It is very hard to recoup with only one shift off especially working nights… This is a pretty inhumane schedule. Working 10/12 contiguous days….. We learn from our mistakes…Lord give me strength!
We have been nervous/dreading doing our taxes as a traveler ever since we started contemplating making this job change. The idea of having to submit state taxes to every state we have worked in seemed daunting, but also with rental (from our roommates) income and housing stipends, had we kept all of the receipts that we needed, had we missed something that would come back to bite us. Well we finally got our taxes done choosing to use a tax preparer who specializes in travel allied health taxes. Called Travel Tax http://www.traveltax.com. As a former medical traveler Joseph Smith knows what being a traveler is like, and was very thorough, and made the process easy. We submitted the required forms and then set up a phone call where he could ask anyadditional questions. Few, it all went great and we won’t be at all nervous next year. Thank you Joseph!!!
He had a blot that I noticed on his website that I plan to check out! https://traveltax.wordpress.com
Our one year traveling anniversary
As I look at the pictures from one year ago today I can feel all the emotions that I felt that day. Our car was all loaded up with everything we thought we might need having really no idea what we had gotten ourselves into. Had we just made the biggest mistake of our lives and now be jobless far away from home with three precious little lives dependent on us? I doubt you guys will believe me when I say it has been a hard year. It has been totally worth it, but has required so so much more than waking up and showing up. We have by no means finished a race or completely accomplished a goal, but we have completed our rookie year. As many other travel nurses as there are out there who travel with their families maybe it isn’t that great of a feat, but I feel like I did when Suzanne and I cross the finish line of our century (100 mile bike ride) together. Tears well up just thinking about it.
Reflections on our first year
No, it hasn’t been exactly a year because Easter changes days each year, but last year Easter (4/20) was our last day at home. We soaked up every second of our family time. At church we tried to catch people that we had not yet said goodbye to for that last hug. So many unknowns and fear of failure. So much excitement for the adventure and eagerness to be obedient to the call.
Our first assignment brought us to New Mexico and the Navajo Indian reservation. This assignment was our favorite for the number of national parks, variety of landscapes, and loads of cool history. The work was good too, I enjoyed working with the midwives and what I could glean about Navajo Nation history and tradition.
Our second assignment was Neenah/Appleton Wisconsin. It was our favorite for the rich green color in every direction, the beautiful Great Lakes, so many new clinical experiences, two hospitals, GYN surgeries, having a NICU, high risk antepartum, and the time spent with family we would have otherwise never seen.
Thanksgiving brought us home to a family reunion and turkey dinner with our third assignment just south of our home in Southern California where the nurses had big hearts and amazing team work. We saw a few awesome national parks, and a few theme parks (Lego land and Disney!!!!) but mostly this was our favorite assignment because we were able to take advantage of every spare minute to spend time with our California family.
Knowing that we wanted to be close to home come summer and didn’t want to go way out east for only three months we decided to go with the kids pick of Hawaii. Initially hesitant because of rumors of inadequate pay to cover bills and the cost of living for one person let alone a family. I am sure that travel companies has a lot to do with it that and this is my recruiters home town. God has provided every step of the way where there was an open door. We are now one month into our assignment in Hilo Hawaii. The first month is the hardest as the learning curve is straight up. It has been a cultural experience, geographical (way out here in the middle of the pacific), geological (hey we live on a volcano), climate, food, plants, animals, ok so much is new and we are learning as much as we can. This has been our favorite assignment because of the awesome beaches, coconuts, and our little vacation home in the jungle. Frogs and geckos chirp us to sleep each night with the pounding of the rain and the chirping birds wake us up each morning.
Green Sand Beach
There are only four green sand beaches in the world. It I s supposedly colored by a precious stone called Olivite created somehow under the perfect volcanic induced circumstances the crushed by the strong waves. It’s particles mixed in with the black sand from the lava rocks pulverized by the same strong waves make for a dark green color to the sand. We couldn’t wait to see it for ourselves, that and it was just time for a long hike. The wind greeted us as we got out of our cars at south point. That and several other locals asking if we wanted rides out to the beach for $75 for the five of us. It was a three mile hike in the sun, but the hike was part of the experience. The breeze was perfect and kept us from feeling like we were baking in the sun. The path was rough and we were slow. It took us about two and a half hours to get the whole crew that far. Several people stopped and asked us if we wanted a ride, we thanked them but declined. We stopped and ate lunch as it was around 1:30 and the kids were hot, hungry and tired.
The destination was definitely worth the time and effort. The beach was more steep and the waves more strong than the other beaches we have visited which made me nervous with the kids. But we made sure they didn’t get too deep and kept a really close eye on them.
We knew we couldn’t stay too late if it was going to take us another 2.5 hours to get out so we cut it short about 3:30pm. A guy who had offered us a ride in offered us a ride out and this time we took him up on it. He was a life saver as we were all hot and tired. We got home I time to have pizza for dinner. Thank you nice man. We apriciate you so much.
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.