A month into my first assignment...how it's going so far.

  1. 0
    Ok, so the honeymoon period is over, and I'm wondering if I made a huge mistake. Arizona is beautiful, Phoenix sucks, and I hate the job. And taking this assignment has drained my savings and has me living from paycheck to paycheck for the first time in many years.

    I brought my two teenagers 2500 miles to experience some new scenery for a while, have some fun, and get out of the rut I was in (I was bored with my job and life). It took a lot of money (almost $2000) just to travel out here and try to have a little bit of fun along the way (nothing extravagant, but we did some sightseeing along the way), to only be reimbursed $500 for travel by company, which came out of my pay in the long run anyway. This after the assignment started a week later than originally planned because employee orientation was full the week I was SUPPOSED to start, which had me out of work for a total of three weeks after Christmas. (I took a week to spend time with my family for the holidays before leaving, and a week to drive to Phoenix, then got forced into an extra week). I'm only bringing home $900 a week out here, after having to pay pet rent and extra for a two bedroom. I've been a nurse for 18 years and was making more than that at my staff job back home in rural NC, with benefits. I've had a terrible cold this past week but went to work sick because, guess what, if I miss work not only do I not have any sick time, I have to PAY THE AGENCY $120 for every shift I miss.

    The people at the hospital are nice enough, but I'm working twice as hard as I've had to work since I was in my 20s, which would be ok I was making good money but I'm not. And even though they're nice, I feel the staff nurses dump on me a bit because they THINK I'm making a ton of money.

    My apartment is nice enough, in a gated community with lots of amenities, but it's in central Phoenix and there have been two break-ins in my GATED complex in the four weeks I've been here. In the daytime. Doors kicked in and items stolen while people were at work, because it's mostly professionals that live here and some thief knows it.

    Phoenix is dirty, crowded, and crime-ridden, has sucky public transportation, and is not very walkable. Even though I'm in the middle of the city, I have to drive everywhere. People don't make eye contact or speak, and everyone looks miserable.

    On the upside, the weather is nice, I've done some hiking and seen some beautiful scenery, and found some good places to eat. Next week I have several days off and we were planning to drive to San Diego because we've never been, but not sure if I'm going to have the money.

    So bottom line, I feel that I'm not being paid enough to work this hard and live in this environment, and I feel that I made a mistake in leaving my good-paying staff job that I liked with people I liked, all because I was bored. I'm homesick and broke. I have actually entertained the thought of packing up and just going home, but I'm not a quitter and I don't want to have to beg for my job back, nor do I want to owe my agency a bunch of money and be seen as a flake. So, I'm making the best of it and trying to keep a positive attitude (which I do not have right at the moment, which is why I ended up writing this post), and counting the shifts until I can go back to my beautiful, green, friendly NC. I'll be finishing my BSN this summer and after this experience, I'm considering leaving bedside nursing all together, even though I've always like the flexibility that working 3 12's gives me.

    And please dont reply telling me what I should've done, because I already know. I should've planned better. I should've kept a closer watch on my money. I should've negotiated a better pay rate (honestly money was not my motivation when I started this, but now I'm wondering if it should have been). I'm kinda hoping for some wise words that will help me to see this situation in a different light.
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  3. 24 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    Quote from NCtravelJen
    Ok, so the honeymoon period is over, and I'm wondering if I made a huge mistake. Arizona is beautiful, Phoenix sucks, and I hate the job. And taking this assignment has drained my savings and has me living from paycheck to paycheck for the first time in many years.

    I brought my two teenagers 2500 miles to experience some new scenery for a while, have some fun, and get out of the rut I was in (I was bored with my job and life). It took a lot of money (almost $2000) just to travel out here and try to have a little bit of fun along the way (nothing extravagant, but we did some sightseeing along the way), to only be reimbursed $500 for travel by company, which came out of my pay in the long run anyway. This after the assignment started a week later than originally planned because employee orientation was full the week I was SUPPOSED to start, which had me out of work for a total of three weeks after Christmas. (I took a week to spend time with my family for the holidays before leaving, and a week to drive to Phoenix, then got forced into an extra week). I'm only bringing home $900 a week out here, after having to pay pet rent and extra for a two bedroom. I've been a nurse for 18 years and was making more than that at my staff job back home in rural NC, with benefits. I've had a terrible cold this past week but went to work sick because, guess what, if I miss work not only do I not have any sick time, I have to PAY THE AGENCY $120 for every shift I miss.

    The people at the hospital are nice enough, but I'm working twice as hard as I've had to work since I was in my 20s, which would be ok I was making good money but I'm not. And even though they're nice, I feel the staff nurses dump on me a bit because they THINK I'm making a ton of money.

    My apartment is nice enough, in a gated community with lots of amenities, but it's in central Phoenix and there have been two break-ins in my GATED complex in the four weeks I've been here. In the daytime. Doors kicked in and items stolen while people were at work, because it's mostly professionals that live here and some thief knows it.

    Phoenix is dirty, crowded, and crime-ridden, has sucky public transportation, and is not very walkable. Even though I'm in the middle of the city, I have to drive everywhere. People don't make eye contact or speak, and everyone looks miserable.

    On the upside, the weather is nice, I've done some hiking and seen some beautiful scenery, and found some good places to eat. Next week I have several days off and we were planning to drive to San Diego because we've never been, but not sure if I'm going to have the money.

    So bottom line, I feel that I'm not being paid enough to work this hard and live in this environment, and I feel that I made a mistake in leaving my good-paying staff job that I liked with people I liked, all because I was bored. I'm homesick and broke. I have actually entertained the thought of packing up and just going home, but I'm not a quitter and I don't want to have to beg for my job back, nor do I want to owe my agency a bunch of money and be seen as a flake. So, I'm making the best of it and trying to keep a positive attitude (which I do not have right at the moment, which is why I ended up writing this post), and counting the shifts until I can go back to my beautiful, green, friendly NC. I'll be finishing my BSN this summer and after this experience, I'm considering leaving bedside nursing all together, even though I've always like the flexibility that working 3 12's gives me.

    And please dont reply telling me what I should've done, because I already know. I should've planned better. I should've kept a closer watch on my money. I should've negotiated a better pay rate (honestly money was not my motivation when I started this, but now I'm wondering if it should have been). I'm kinda hoping for some wise words that will help me to see this situation in a different light.
    I know what you mean in a lot of ways. I'm not making any more money then I was before an I really miss my friends, family, and SOUTH Carolina . I think you just have to look at is as a great learning experience. Especially for your kids. They now see that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. They may be now less likely to just drop a great job and great situation just because they are wondering what else is out there. It's def a good time to realize, wow I didn't know what I had. But now that we don't have it, it would be such a relief to go back. I miss my coworkers too. They knew me and trusted me. The doctors here don't know me and all and so I feel out of control sometimes with patient outcomes.

    I am going to continue travel nursing because we are having a great time exploring. So far, the jobs have been manageable, but not pleasant. They pay is just okay. I'm doing this as a challenges for myself and also a once in a lifetime experience! One that everyone can learn from. Making new friends, gaining the trust of strangers, learning your way around a new city, and mostly just being adaptable and learning quickly! Just take it as a great learning experience! Maybe you'll get an assignment in the city of yor dreams next. The beauty is that you can quit at any time. But you have so much invested into doing this, why not maybe try onerous assignment? It's about the experience not the money right? 6 months would be long enough to justify leaving I think.
  5. 2
    NurseRies, thanks for your perspective. It's good to know that I'm not the only one feels this way. I too, love exploring and traveling, but the work is definitely not enjoyable. It could definitely be worse though. I think am just having "growing pains". And stressing about the money. You are right about having so much invested into doing this. I've been talking about it for years, and spent a good part of last year preparing for finally doing it. And when I did it, I wanted to go "all the way", by taking an assignment thousands of miles from home where none of us have ever been before, in a hospital ten times bigger than any one I've ever worked in, and in a big city when I've lived in a small town my whole life. I thought that if I eased into it by taking an assignment close to home at first it wouldn't really be "travel nursing", and I was afraid I might lose my nerve to do this if I didn't pull the trigger while I had the momentum. So here I am, in Phoenix, holding my own working in a huge teaching hospital.I'm good at what I do. I'm not overwhelmed, just spoiled, I think. I'm in my mid 40's and this workload is kicking my a$$, LOL. Where I came from, I had it made, but I was not challenged, and I was in a rut. I can do this. I am doing it. And I know that if I stick it out, I will be a better person for it.

    You are also right about not knowing what we had. Having coworkers you know and trust, and docs too, is a valuable thing. You don't realize it until you're working where no one knows or trusts you, and you know that you are on your own, and no one has your back. That is probably the most stressful thing about this new assignment. I'm sure that seasoned travelers are used to that, but it's a first for me, and it was unexpected.

    Thanks a bunch, you helped me a lot, even if it was just making me rethink everything that I wrote this morning. :-)
    sheronep and nursinadream like this.
  6. 2
    Quote from NCtravelJen
    NurseRies, thanks for your perspective. It's good to know that I'm not the only one feels this way. I too, love exploring and traveling, but the work is definitely not enjoyable. It could definitely be worse though. I think am just having "growing pains". And stressing about the money. You are right about having so much invested into doing this. I've been talking about it for years, and spent a good part of last year preparing for finally doing it. And when I did it, I wanted to go "all the way", by taking an assignment thousands of miles from home where none of us have ever been before, in a hospital ten times bigger than any one I've ever worked in, and in a big city when I've lived in a small town my whole life. I thought that if I eased into it by taking an assignment close to home at first it wouldn't really be "travel nursing", and I was afraid I might lose my nerve to do this if I didn't pull the trigger while I had the momentum. So here I am, in Phoenix, holding my own working in a huge teaching hospital.I'm good at what I do. I'm not overwhelmed, just spoiled, I think. I'm in my mid 40's and this workload is kicking my a$$, LOL. Where I came from, I had it made, but I was not challenged, and I was in a rut. I can do this. I am doing it. And I know that if I stick it out, I will be a better person for it.

    You are also right about not knowing what we had. Having coworkers you know and trust, and docs too, is a valuable thing. You don't realize it until you're working where no one knows or trusts you, and you know that you are on your own, and no one has your back. That is probably the most stressful thing about this new assignment. I'm sure that seasoned travelers are used to that, but it's a first for me, and it was unexpected.

    Thanks a bunch, you helped me a lot, even if it was just making me rethink everything that I wrote this morning. :-)
    Yeah ... I think doing it for a year if you can! What an experience!! And no one wants to be that person that does one assignment and then comes right back. It took a lot of planning and commitment to get me here. All my stuff is in storage, I quit both the jobs I had, my husband hanged careers! We are both committed to doing this or a while so that we can see different areas. I have only been to Texas and California so far. Both states are great for better pay though I hear. Although I have my moments where I am homesick and bored, I also have moments where I'm sittin by the pool without a care in the world! My family knows this is only temporary and they have gotten to visit some cool places. I love exploring the areas. I like to go on hikes, go to the best dive restaurants, and meet people. I had it all in SC, but then again, this was a dream I had! I couldn't live with myself without trying it! It has it's ups and downs. It's def not the glamorous life that everyone seems to think it is, but my husband and I are sharing some great experiences! We would have never seen these places otherwise!

    Go to the Grand Canyon! San Diego is cool, we just went there on a 2 day trip. You'll look back someday and be glad you did this.
    cosmicmama and nursinadream like this.
  7. 3
    Wow I'm glad I read all of these comments, the goods and the bad of all of them. Thank you guys for all of the information. I had been debating to do traveling & the travel agency of course builds it up & sounds very convincing but became so pushy. I only know 2 travelers, 1 who did it years ago & said only good then another doing it currently & had both good & bad. Again thank you guys for all of the input of traveling! It definitely has made me rethink doing this right now, maybe in the future!
    sheronep, nursinadream, and cosmicmama like this.
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    Reading your post really brough back some early traveling memories for me! I remember my first assignment in CA. Leaving Canada coming to the states all the way to CA with my hsuband and animals in tow, spending thousands to get there only to find out the assignments were heavier than I ever imagined, people were not so nice, money was not so great and I remember thinking thinking to myself...OMG what have I done? I actually quit traveling for 6 months after that because it was so bad.

    However, about 6 months after the first assignment I thought to myself...I did this for a reason...and I packed my bags and headed out on another assignment and have been traveling for 4 years now and love it "most" of the time. I'm just getting ready to settle into a staff position at one of my assignments and I wouldnt trade the experience for the world.

    So I guess what I'm trying to say is don't give up just yet. You obviously made some really huge decisions and major changes in your life and the life of your familt for a reason. There are some really great places to work and travel to out there. Try to network with some fellow travelers and find out the places the like the most...after a while you find the traveler comminity "a small world after all" and certain places get better reps than others. Time off in between can be killer. I try to plan my time off so it falls between pay periods and I end up missing maybe a partial pay. When I know the pay cycle I will also ensure that I have at least 2 stretches of time off in my contract that still allow me get my 3 days a week working but also guaratees me time to explore and enjoy. And last...shop around...there have been a few assignments where I have not been charged the 2 bedroom rate...negotiate...negotiate...negotiate...everyth ing is negotiable!

    Hope this helps...good luck...I jope you find some really nice places to go!
    cosmicmama likes this.
  9. 0
    I'm REALLY happy that you posted your experience because now MORE prospective travelers will think twice before accepting a contract. Bedside nursing is not for the faint of heart and traveling is even more challenging (especially your first assisgnment). You have to be flexible and able to learn quickly (particularly an unfamiliar electronic charting program). I have always been baffled by the people who inquire about traveling with children and/or pets. The agency is hiring YOU to work 36+ hours a week and to represent them in a positive light for future contracts/travelers. They are NOT hiring you to bring everything AND the kitchen sink with you AND pay for that. I wish you luck and well!
  10. 1
    OP: Off topic a bit, but my teenagers loved the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale. And northern Arizona has a lot of facinating things to do and see. When it gets nice, you should take them to Oak Creek Canyon/Slide Rock State park. Those are the kinds of things that can make the hard times as a traveler worth it. Good luck!
    cosmicmama likes this.
  11. 1
    I spent the past winter in Connecticut, which sucked. Well, the state as a whole sucked, in my opinion. Thankfully the ER I was in was great and the people I worked with were phenomenal. I was expecting the charming and quaint New England you see in pictures -- this was far from the truth. It was old, dirty, and run-down. Most everyone was rude, loud, and very standoffish. You were definitely right about the staff nurses you work with assuming you're bringing in huge amounts of cash because you're a traveler. Since that was my first assignment I was unaware that taking the "free" company housing and "free" insurance was a horrible decision. I lost several thousand dollars because of my ignorance. I've already learned so much about what TO do and what NOT to do as a traveler -- how to travel, how to pack, how to make financial decisions, how to negotiate a travel contract, how to file my taxes a traveler, how to talk to recruiters, etc. I also found it to be very educational in the sense that the way of life in a North England city is incredibly different than the way of life in rural West Virginia, where I'm from. Although I was born in raised in Columbus, Ohio (so I can move and talk pretty fast myself) I now currently live in the heart of Appalachia. And WOW! What a culture shock after going to central Connecticut! Not only are the people, attitudes, lifestyles and accents different, but I found that the way providers practice medicine are very different. Medications are prescribed just a little differently, and treatments slightly differ too, just based on your geographic location. That's slightly irrelevant, but it was just something I noticed and thought it was interesting. Anyway...the point I'm trying to make...you might not realize all the things you're learning in the midst of it. But, a lot of life's most valuable lessons you can't and won't learn until after the fact. A couple weeks or months down the road you'll look back and light will go on and it will make more sense. I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Arizona, good luck!
    cosmicmama likes this.
  12. 0
    Can you elaborate on how you lost thousands of dollars by taking the free housing and also what to do and not to do. What about filing taxes? I too, was born and raised (near) columbus, ohio. Thanks!


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