Have I hurt my chances for traveling?

  1. Hello first post ever here. Always used to skim this site while in nursing school but not always the best idea because it was especially discouraging when I was studying for the NCLEX since it scared me, LOL!

    Fast forward to now. I'm ~1.5 years in as a nurse. Before I get attacked, no I am not already trying to get a travel job as of yet (I do realize that you should have at least 2 years before your first travel job) but I've been doing my research into it, joined travel groups on facebook, etc.

    I just want to get a few opinions and/or feedback. I work on a what my hospital calls a "med/surg tele" floor. However, I feel like my floor is not technically med/surg nor is it really "telemetry".

    To give you an idea of what I mean, we have other units at my hospital that are more surgical than mine and typically get all the fresh post-ops. We hardly ever receive post-ops on my floor unless they're post-op choles or lap appys. And not all of our patients are on the telemetry monitor. Some of them are, but they're also being watched by monitor techs in another room in the hospital. However, I have taken the EKG course at my hospital and can read the strips. Also the only drips we ever have on our floor are heparin or protonix drips (if that even counts). Otherwise if they need to be put on cardizem or any other drips it's off to the cardiac or higher up floor they go.

    Now I work nights and we usually have 6-7 patients a nurse. I will always have 6 and recently when we're short staffed we will get 7 each. If it wasn't for my wonderful coworkers I would not have survived as long as I have on this floor. To give you an idea of how "bad" this floor is, I am considered the "most experienced" besides the charge nurses left. We are nothing but new grads on my unit because people come and go so fast. Turnover rate here is horrible.

    These are basically the types of diagnoses of patients we have: "altered mental status" (typically really confused/demented geri patients or metabolic encephalopathy pts), pneumonia, CHF, COPD exacerbation, cellulitis, dialysis pts w/ some type of infection going on, cancer patients whether they are on chemo or not (we don't do the chemo), total care patients with feeding tubes/NG tubes,etc. MOST of the time we receive a lot of drug addicts and alcoholics. So pain medications around the clock and/or CIWA.
    If anything I feel as if my floor is more of a "general adult medical" floor.

    ANYWAYS, I've always wanted to get into traveling but I'm in funk because even when I hit my 2 years I'm not sure if I'll be able to "handle" traveling in med/surg? Does my unit even qualify to have given me the experience I need to know enough to hit the ground running as a traveler?

    obviously you can probably tell I'm no longer happy with being on this unit, not even sure if I was ever happy to begin with. I'm finding myself more and more drained whenever I go in. Half the time I don't even feel like a nurse and as if I'm just trying to get the next "task" done in order to get it done and manage my time well and see all my patients. When we're pushed to 7 this is especially hard because there will usually be 1-2 of those patients who I worry about more and focus more my time on hoping to god that my other patients are okay!

    I just don't know if the experience I have had comes down to me "knowing enough" to be a traveler in med/surg.
    Will I be okay once I hit my 2 years to do traveling in med/surg? Or do I switch specialities and get another 2 years AND THEN travel?
    My dilemma though is that I'm in my hometown and I really don't want to be in this city for another 2 years. Do I just up and move and start a new job somewhere else on a different floor?

    I appreciate if anyone actually takes the time to read all of this and respond, I'm sorry I know it's long. But I'm in a bit of a funk here. This floor is already starting to make me feel "burned out" and I haven't even hit 2 years as a nurse. I need some type of change and soon. Any opinions/advice would be appreciative.
  2. Visit amedRN profile page

    About amedRN, BSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '18; Posts: 9

    15 Comments

  3. by   Been there,done that
    You have enough experience to be hired for travel. Travel is not an easy gig, I had 20 years and found it difficult. You will be expected to hit the floor running with 3 days of orientation. Only YOU know if you can handle that.

    Best wishes.
  4. by   NedRN
    Can't you transfer to a different floor? But if you are sure you are unhappy with medsurgtele generally, perhaps you should switch to a new specialty. With some, you may not need two more years. A year of ED for example plus your current experience.
  5. by   amedRN
    technically I could probably move floors within my hospital but not sure that I want to stay where I'm living for more than another year past August.

    But then again I don't know if it's possible to move to a different hospital and be trained in a new specialty when it's not the hospital you started at?
  6. by   8-ball
    I agree with Ned, I would switch specialty. Med-surg is hard and not because of the job itself but the patient population. add in 6-7 patients and now your talking severe headache, I have been ICu for 8 years and I can tell you that would burn me out in a heart beat. Try ICU, ED, PACU maybe even cath lab or IR. All of which you can travel with. However if you go ICU I can tell you as a traveler you will float to med-surg. Also ICu I would suggest 2 years exp in Icu. As I type this I am thinking something like cath lab or IR might suit you its 1:1 care and you can focus on just that patient...also less charting. As a traveler in that field your pay will be higher too I have seen some pretty lucrative cath lab positions. You would only need 6mo to a year more exp to start traveling with that.
  7. by   Swellz
    If you are happy with MS-tele and can handle 6-7 patients, you can definitely travel. However, if you don't like MS-tele, it's not going to get any better when you are in different hospitals with coworkers you don't know in less than ideal environments - and it will be a less than ideal environment, because the ideal environment rarely needs travelers. If you want to switch specialties, I'd do it now.
  8. by   Angiebaby01
    I've got more experience but I definitely feel your pain as this was me within my first two years of nursing. One smart thing that I did do was started working PRN for some local agencies to kind of stick my toe in traveling and adapting to the whole "hitting the ground running" concept that comes with travel nursing. I also took a 13 week contract with a local agency but this did require me to quit my then current job. I already had one lined up at the VA but it took a very long time before I got a start date so in the meantime and in between time I took this contract on a med-surge floor. I had more skills and knowledge than the floor was able to utilize but they ran us 6-7 patients easy and I was always up for the first admission before I could even get report on my patients on the floor. The good news though is this taught me to "adapt" and that is key from what I understand as a traveler and it sounds to me that you already possess this skill! Best of wishes to you! I'm actually quite envious that you are already considering traveling! I wish I could have considered sooner but I am a single mom. Fast forward one of my sons is now an adult and the other a senior in high school...so I am soon to be an empty nester and strongly consider pursuing my career as a traveler. So I guess best wishes to us both!!!
  9. by   Angiebaby01
    Is this a teaching hospital?
  10. by   CameToSlay
    Maybe you could go per diem for the last half year. Time as Per diem still counts towards your years of experience!

    You may be required to float to some other med-surg floors, which is great practice for traveling.

    If you can be super busy in one place, you can be super busy anywhere, and get paid extra for doing it :-)

    Good luck!
  11. by   amedRN
    Quote from 8-ball
    I agree with Ned, I would switch specialty. Med-surg is hard and not because of the job itself but the patient population. add in 6-7 patients and now your talking severe headache, I have been ICu for 8 years and I can tell you that would burn me out in a heart beat. Try ICU, ED, PACU maybe even cath lab or IR. All of which you can travel with. However if you go ICU I can tell you as a traveler you will float to med-surg. Also ICu I would suggest 2 years exp in Icu. As I type this I am thinking something like cath lab or IR might suit you its 1:1 care and you can focus on just that patient...also less charting. As a traveler in that field your pay will be higher too I have seen some pretty lucrative cath lab positions. You would only need 6mo to a year more exp to start traveling with that.
    I guess my issue is that I do not or cannot see me staying in my hometown any longer past August/September. I know I don't want to go to ICU, I don't think I could handle it because although you only have 2 patients usually, I think I'd just be way too stressed out even more so than I already am on this type of unit.

    I thought about ER, but from what I've researched it seems like everyone says you should have minimum 2 years in the ER before actually traveling in ER.

    So I don't know if I should just tough it out since I want to move so badly away from where I'm from and just stick to M/S for now.
  12. by   NedRN
    Everyone but me. I think ED is one specialty where you can be OK with only one year, especially with other experience. It is a place where all strengths can flourish, but assignments have to be carefully chosen and interviews carefully done with only one year. You will be able to grow as a traveler.

    Some caveats: most hospitals that will train you in the ED will want a two year commitment. But you can look for a staff job/internship somewhere new. The other is preference, I would suggest shadowing an ED nurse on your day off to see if it fits you.
  13. by   Swellz
    If you're content to travel as a MS nurse, maybe try a contract on a floor that's different than your current one. I wanted to get away from oncology so I took jobs in neuro and whatnot. Maybe you'll find something that you can get excited about.
  14. by   Elaken
    As long as you are someone who can learn quick you are fine to travel. You won't be able to do tele because you don't have that experience but you can do med/surg travel. I am a float pool nurse in my hospital system and each hospital is pretty different (I float to 3 out of the 5) and it is less about knowing the patient population than being confident and learning quickly.

    For example my main hospital has 3 surgical units but they all take almost any kind of regular medical when they are the only free bed. One generally does backs/bariatric/other GI surgeries. One takes ortho. One takes urological/thyroid surgery/thoracotomy. Even if you worked on one you wouldn't have dealt with the others. So it isn't about knowing it all when traveling. Your floor has given you a wide range of experience.

    When you travel a unit might keep certain patients for core staff otherwise you say "what should I look for in this patient" and you make it work. You also learn to love Lippincott procedures. I confidently removed fluid from my first pleurx drain using the list from Lippincott.

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