#trustaffTraveler Spotlight: Melissa J

trustaff Recruiter Emily Carey has been so impressed by her traveler Melissa that she nominated her for our Traveler Spotlight.

She said, “Melissa is AMAZING, she is literally the PERFECT traveler! There is not a single conversation where we don’t end up laughing hysterically!” We asked Melissa a ton of questions about how she became a traveler and her favorite aspects of the job and she shared some awesome insights! Get to know her a little better.

Tell us about YOU! Where are you from? Family? Friends? Pets?

I am an RN from eastern Kentucky. I have been a nurse for almost 6 years, 4 of those I have been traveling with trustaff. I the mother of an amazingly sarcastic 11-year-old and wife to a surprisingly patient and supportive husband. My family is extremely important to me and they affect every choice I make when it comes to deciding contracts. I’m loyal and blunt—not everyone’s cup of tea, to be honest. However, I love being a nurse. I love caring for my patients and making a difference in their lives, even if it’s only for a short period of time. My brand of humor isn’t for everyone, but that’s usually the case for those in healthcare.

Why did you decide to go into healthcare?

As trite as it may sound, it was an amazing nurse who inspired my career choice. My father was gravely ill when I was a teenager and one nurse, “Rockin’ Robin,” stood out in his months-long recovery. When I was looking for a career that would provide well for my family and one that I would enjoy, “Rockin’ Robin” came to mind. I wanted to be able to leave that kind of impression on someone, so I went into nursing. Hopefully, one day I can be someone’s version of RR in their life.

What prompted you to start traveling?

In all honesty, a case of burnout and stubbornness lead to my first foray into traveling. I loved the job I had but was becoming weighed down by the red tape that seemed to take away from bedside nursing instead of adding to the experience. Throw in a couple “managers” that liked the sound of their own voice more than a mutual sharing of ideas and I was ready for a change of pace. I didn’t want to give up the career I had worked for, but I knew I needed something different. A former co-worker mentioned the possibility of traveling and the rest, as they say, is history.

What was your first assignment like?

My first assignment was a culture shock. I wasn’t far from home, only about 3 1/2 hours, but boy oh, was I in a strange new world. Fast track orientation, team nursing, patients who could walk themselves to the bathroom—oh good gravy. I didn’t know what exactly to do with myself. I met several wonderful people, who I am still in contact and friends with. I expanded my knowledge and became more settled in my own skin as a nurse. I also learned the value of enunciation—cause let’s be real, not everyone understands a southern drawl.

What’s your favorite thing about traveling?

My favorite thing about traveling is change. Change of scenery, change of co-workers, change of policy (I think you get my point.). It’s the change of everything that helps to keep nursing fresh for me. Nursing care is consistent. That will never change for me. However, by changing all the other variables, traveling keeps nursing as exciting as it was for me as a baby nurse, well before I had any idea what burnout could feel like.

What is the most challenging part about traveling? How do you overcome it?

Despite my brash demeanor, I am actually quite the introvert. It takes me a bit to warm up to new people. I have to lay back and watch to get the “lay of the land” so to speak. Which, as you can imagine, is not ideal for a traveler who is only at a facility for a short period of time. To overcome this, I remind myself that I’m there for a purpose. My patients don’t care if I’m friends with my co-workers. They care that I take excellent care of them in their current situation. So, I focus on my patients. I’ve found that even the most awkward of situations at new facilities are most easily navigated once the staff nurses decide that you are a competent and willing nurse. Friendships form much more easily in the world of healthcare when you’re not afraid to gown up and hold a cheek to help out your coworkers! (Ha! We absolutely love this advice!)

How many assignments have you taken and where?

Well, I have been traveling for 4 years—without extended breaks. During that time I’ve had several contract extensions, so I tend to group extensions in with original contracts. With that said, I have worked a CDU unit in WV, a Tele/MS unit in WV, a Rehab/PT unit in western Kentucky, multiple Tele/MS units in eastern Kentucky, an Ortho unit in WV, a Stepdown/CDU unit in WV, and a Tele/MS unit in VA. Of course with each contract, there have been times that I have been floated to other units within those facilities, but that just gives me more experience to draw from.

What advice would you have for someone who is thinking about starting their travel career?

I highly recommend traveling to all nurses; with the caveat that traveling IS NOT for all nurses. My advice to those who choose to travel is this…

First, do your research. Find a good company and an excellent recruiter. (Mine is Emily Carey at trustaff and she is amazing!) Find a recruiter who is trustworthy, honest (even with things you may not want to hear), and loyal. Those are the type of recruiters who will always have your back, and you will need that when you’re out in the world.

Enjoy the experience. Whether it’s just enjoying the new facility and co-workers or branching out to experience a new location and attractions. Enjoy the experience!

Don’t phone it in. Yeah, you are a traveling nurse. Yeah, this won’t be your permanent position or home hospital. But while you are there—it IS. Give it your all. Be the travel nurse that facilities and coworkers want to stay, not the one that gives other travelers a bad name.

When in doubt, ask. There are numerous resources out there now for travelers. Don’t be afraid to utilize them and if you’re uncomfortable—speak up.

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