Travel Nursing: The good, the bad, and why I probably will never do again-Part 1

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    Travel Nursing offers high pay, glamour of seeing new sites, and making new friends. But, for me, there is a dark side.

    Travel Nursing:  The good, the bad, and why I probably will never do again-Part 1


    Based on true Travel Nursing experiences by Cynthia Hubbard, R.N.

    It was Wednesday when the call came in: "Can you be here by Tuesday?" Moira, the Director of a well- established Home Health and Hospice company up in northern Maine had just phoned me for an interview. It wasn't 10 minutes and I found myself saying with enthusiasm, "Sure!" Never mind I was in Wisconsin, but then, I have always been an optimist.

    "Really???" Hope was evident in her voice. "Wow! That would be great."
    "See you Tuesday, " I replied. I placed a call immediately back to my travel agency per instructions, to let them know that I would accept the assignment. Now I needed housing. I hate apartment living so Janelle in the travel agency's Housing Department was scrambling to find me a single family rental near where I would be working. She phoned to tell me she was waiting for a reply which we found out later - would never come.


    After three hours, Janelle called to say she found a "cute place on a lake with a private deck and everything. I found it on Craig's List," she said happily. She gave me the phone number to the lady who owned the house. She lived upstairs from the studio I would be renting. It was in my price range. Little did I know what I was in for.....As I already had my necessary administrative paperwork done, all except the drug test and a few FAX's to send, all I to do was pack a suitcase....or so I thought.

    The vehicle I drove was a 2000 Plymouth Voyager Van, 15 years old. While it got its' oil changes done religiously, and had new brakes, tires, and insurance, it lacked a tailpipe, one hubcap and had no back seats. Mind you it was great for loading stuff, but as it has crossed the country four times in the last 5 years and been exposed to extreme temperatures, so of course it had some rust. I suddenly wondered if we would really be okay on this trek to "God's Country." I phoned my mechanic to schedule the oil change. It was a tough squeeze but he agreed to do it later that afternoon.

    As there was no internet in my apartment, keeping communication open between the travel agency and myself was a challenge. One is only authorized 2 hours a day of internet at the library unless one brings their own computer. Experience has taught me that using my computer in the library, is an exercise in patience. It could take up to 2 hours just to log on. Some documents such as titers, immunization records, physicals, respirator fittings, etc. needed timely FAXing so I jumped into my car to our apartment manager's office to use their machine. Caroline was behind the desk, hunched down, speaking to a prospective renter on the phone. (I think she had hoped I wouldn't see her.) Her desk piled with papers, she was trying to eat her lunch at the same time. Clearly, she was doing the work of 2 people. I felt guilty for asking for her help, but FAX's sent from her office do not cost anything and I was told in the past that it's ok to ask them to send. She hung up the phone.

    "Hi, Caroline," I said with some mustered up cheerfulness, "How are you?"

    "Busy," she said flatly.

    "I just got offered a travel nurse position up in Maine and I need to send these right away. She loaded the machine. While it was sending, her phone rang. As the pages fed through the FAX, they fell on the floor, gracefully spilling in all directions. I wanted to go behind the desk and help gather them up but renters aren't allowed back there so I helplessly stood while she spoke on the phone while I waited. The Confirmation Page printed. I thanked Caroline very much and headed out the door to the mechanic, 45 minutes up the highway. As I rolled into the garage for the oil change, my phone rang. It was Joe, from the travel nurse company.

    "We never got the FAX," he informed me.

    "But I have a confirmation!"

    "Nope, it's not here. Can you send it again?" Caroline again and I was too far away from town anyway.

    "Wait," I brainstormed. "My church is about a half mile up the street. I'll see if I can use theirs."

    "Ok, just let us know when you are transmitting so we can watch for it."

    "You got it," I said. Throwing the car into reverse, before he got a chance to raise the hood, I left the mechanic with a mental promise I would call him later and re-schedule. As I sailed into the parking lot at church, I prayed I could get this all done before I had to leave for Maine in the morning. Slamming the car door and racing to the entrance I nearly dislocated my shoulder as I grabbed the door handle to the church entrance.

    Locked! I forgot that the church was also a school and that school was now out for the summer. Frantically I phoned the Pastor. (I had him on Speed-Dial.)

    "Hello," he said cheerfully.

    "Pastor, I've got kind of an emergency.." and explained to him what I needed.

    "May I use your FAX?"

    "Sure! Just tell Amanda what you need. Come to the end of the building and she'll let you in. I'll let her know to open the door."[

    "I breathed a prayer of thanks." Amanda opened the door and said seriously, "You need to send a transmission? We will need to de-activate the alarm, as school is closed for summer and the equipment is rigged to go off if being used without authorization."

    "Wow, so what do we do?" I asked.

    "I'll call them and ask them to de-activate it while we are using it. It shouldn't be a problem."I watched as she contacted the Security folks. "About a half hour I would think," she said to them. I pulled out my paperwork and got my agency on the line to confirm as it was being transmitted.

    "By the way", said Lisa, (H.R. Compliancy Officer at the company), "we also need a copy of your C.P.R. card and proof of car insurance."

    "Great," I thought to myself. "It will mean a trip to the car," as I kept that in the glove box. I glanced sheepishly up at Amanda- she's very tall. "I will need to go out to the parking lot and I'm afraid the door will lock after me."

    "Just prop it open with the child bench outside the door," she suggested. I ran down the hall. We were racing against the clock so I was only thinking about my Team that was waiting for the FAX, the alarm and how much time we had. The bench was within reach. As I held the door open and reached over to pull the bench over, I was shocked to feel how heavy it was and nearly threw my back out in the process. No one mentioned it was made of concrete!

    As I reached the car and threw open the glove box, I saw to my dismay that although I had current coverage, my card had expired. "This just keeps getting better and better," I said to myself ruefully. As I trotted back to the church office and handed her the expired insurance card, I called Joe to let him know that the card is expired, but I could prove coverage.

    "Yeah, we really do need a current card or something from your insurance company," he droned.

    "You'll have it within the hour, I promise." I shot back with a forced smile. To my horror, while Amanda was making copies of my tiny cards to FAX, the alarm went off. We stared at each other. "Really?!" I asked. "Has it been a half hour?" We waited. No phone call.

    "Great," I said chuckling, "Do we wait for the S.W.A.T. Team?" "I don't understand it," Amanda said looking bewildered. "They're supposed to call when it goes off." "Well," I replied, "I'm on a mission. They're gonna have to shoot me first." I started laughing. Amanda didn't think it was funny. The phone finally rang. All was well. I thanked her profusely and she wished me well.

    Another ring...it was my cell: "By the way," (it was Lisa again) "You will need to take a couple of quick tests online. Can you get to the library?" No stress there. I was only 45 minutes in the opposite direction. I said I would get there in about an hour. It was a miracle it went as well as it did. The tests got done, I was packed, mail forwarded and out the door, I went the next morning. I don't think my feet even touched the ground.[

    Travel Day:[

    First stop, the garage. I still needed that oil change and I knew I'd be walking on eggshells with the mechanic, due to the afternoon previous.

    Jeb was in a bad mood, crabby and the only person in the world I know who can make "good morning, " sound like it was a bad thing.[ I pulled in the garage and left the car to wait in the waiting room. About 15 minutes later Jeb approached me scowling, "You might need another one of these." He held out his hand with a broken piece of rubber hose that used to be part of the crankcase apparatus.

    "What are you guys doing? I only wanted an oil change."

    "I'm not breaking stuff on purpose! It just came off. Here, I'll show you. Follow me." I obeyed.

    "Can you tape it for now? I need to get on the road." He showed me a print out of my battery. It didn't look good.

    "Promise me you will get the battery replaced as soon as you get there if not sooner. The tape will hold for now. The oil change is done." I was on the road.....

    The deadline to get there was Tuesday to start work, so my time was limited. Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire and finally, Maine. The scenery was an education in the geography and demographics of our wonderful land. The glorious sunrise of gold, pink white and silver, the rolling green hills flowing of farmlands, bays of blue-silver water, sailboats, colorful gardens, all were reminders America's beauty. I smiled as I anticipated how much fun driving to the northeast would be.

    It rained in Michigan, quite a lot. Highway traffic was deadly. I prayed for Travel Mercies the whole time. Unfortunately, in every state I hit construction. Still, the delays weren't too bad and I managed to make it to a nice motel by 8 p.m. the same night.

    When I got to Ohio, the highway suddenly closed down without warning compliments of the State Highway Patrol. All traffic was detoured through Sandusky, at the height of the motorcycle gathering of veterans, and a celebration of the anniversary of the end of the Viet Nam war. The colorful flurry of flags that flew, planted in lush lawns, the bands playing, vendors, outdoor cafes in full swing, folks honoring those we lost and those who came home scarred inside or out, made me take pause. To this day, when I see a convoy, I still get choked up.

    The one thing that I thought was a miracle, is that the whole time that I was driving, my blower fan which needed repair, was working beautifully! There wasn't time to fix it and frankly, I hadn't the finances to do so. It was to God's grace to which I give credit. By the time I got to New England, my spirits began to soar. The mountains, mists, colors and lack of billboards made the drive look like a picture postcard. Such graceful and treacherous beauty!It felt as though I was entering another world...
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Mar 23
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  2. Poll: If you had the chance, would you choose to be a Travel Nurse?

    • Yes

      66.67% 20
    • No

      33.33% 10
    30 Votes

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    About Have Nurse, ASN, LPN, RN Pro

    Love of people, nursing and the Lord. Minnesota born and raised.

    Joined: Feb '18; Posts: 394; Likes: 625

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    55 Comments

  4. by   rgo2018
    Is this really base on true experience?

    "Travel Nursing offers high pay...", however, after reading this story I have to conclude that the author is living in extreme destitute. You can't afford to send over a fax? Sending a fax will cost you a few dollars, unless of course you are "transmitting" a War and Peace series by Leo Tolstoy. Is this story from the 80's? There is a coffee shop at each major intersection with free internet! Better yet would be just buying a mobile hot-spot for $30 per months that gives you internet access anywhere you go!

    Nothing personal but this story sounds like fiction.
  5. by   Have Nurse
    No, Sweetheart. I am not destitute. And it is not fiction. I kept track daily of my memoirs. There are many writers in my family. You have never lived in Waukesha. You have no idea of the responsibilities I had at the time or why I chose to use the Library as I did. I was there a lot. And if it sounds like fiction, you compliment me. There are 9 chapters total so enjoy. Thank you for your post. It's entertaining!
  6. by   Have Nurse
    The other thing I would like to add, is, if you are really truly, reading this story, I was on a deadline crossing 7 states and had a very short time to get there. And if you take the time, to read the REST you will see how pre-mature your comments are. So take your time....
  7. by   Mr_Edwino
    Welp, I've lived in Waukesha, and it's kind of like living in the 80s all over again.
  8. by   JadedCPN
    Quote from rgo2018
    Is this really base on true experience?

    "Travel Nursing offers high pay...", however, after reading this story I have to conclude that the author is living in extreme destitute. You can't afford to send over a fax? Sending a fax will cost you a few dollars, unless of course you are "transmitting" a War and Peace series by Leo Tolstoy. Is this story from the 80's? There is a coffee shop at each major intersection with free internet! Better yet would be just buying a mobile hot-spot for $30 per months that gives you internet access anywhere you go!

    Nothing personal but this story sounds like fiction.
    That was one of my initial thoughts too, was that either this was from the 80s, or that it was made up because it seems unnecessarily dramatic.
  9. by   NedRN
    Quote from Have Nurse
    No, Sweetheart. I am not destitute. And it is not fiction. I kept track daily of my memoirs. There are many writers in my family. You have never lived in Waukesha. You have no idea of the responsibilities I had at the time or why I chose to use the Library as I did. I was there a lot. And if it sounds like fiction, you compliment me. There are 9 chapters total so enjoy. Thank you for your post. It's entertaining!
    9 chapters? Where? But perhaps a one line summary of the point you are trying to make here. This sounds more like a complaint to a friend than something of benefit to a travel nurse community about internet issues.
  10. by   Have Nurse
    Thank you!!! For the record, it was 2015.
  11. by   Have Nurse
    I can understand why you would think that. But the idea, is take the reader on the journey with me. The people who are mentioned are real. And those conversations, actually did take place, but the names have been changed.

    If it helps, I am a child of the 50's. I grew up learning in school, without a cell phone, without a personal computer, without an IPad, without CABLE. Kids in my era had to learn the hard way and write everything. They were taught basics and creative writing. They were taught how to do a paper using only books for research.

    We also were taught something else, courtesy and patience. The intent of this memoir is not to critique. It is simply entertainment for others, and possibly glean something that might stand out for the reader. It is not meant to be analyzed or dissected.

    I do not say that to offend, merely to clarify what my purpose is in sharing it. I hope you enjoy it. That is my intent.
  12. by   Have Nurse
    Well, if you scroll to the top of the page, it specifically states that this is PART 1. Part 2 is already loaded and being edited by the website. I will load the rest weekly, 2 chapters at a time. Really, you all need to settle down, who insist that you know what story is. No, it is not a dissertation about Internet Service, and CERTAINLY NOT a complaint.
  13. by   NedRN
    I'm a bit wordy myself, but I don't think I can dig through 9 parts, or chapters to get to a punch line that doesn't look promising per the title. But it is original, I've certainly not read about emergency oil changes on this forum before.
  14. by   LATASHAW2
    Despite all the other comments, I thoroughly enjoyed the story because I felt like I was on that journey with you as you shared your experience. Although, I grew up with iPads, internet and cell phones I still enjoy reading paper books.
  15. by   Have Nurse
    Yes. (chuckle) The main idea that you will see if you are able to stay on the journey is the difference from how I felt in the beginning, (Positive, excited, happy, thrilled, etc.) to the contrast of how it really went, not how I anticipated it to go. Don't misunderstand me. The whole experience taught me a lot and was a slap in the face for a reality check along the way. At the end of each day, I wrote what happened. That is how I remember the details so well. Also, due to the trauma that happened to me later, while I have healed from it and am doing well, it has left a scar. Any time I get an email or a call from a Travel Recruiter, I tell them that not only am I "not interested, and thank you for considering me, but I don't have the heart to put my colleagues through it."

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