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Dorothy’s story: Traveling in an RV

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Dorothy and her husbandDorothy is a veteran nurse in several specialties with 33 years of experience, seven of those as a traveler. Her and her husband travel in an RV and have been everywhere from Florida to Oregon.

Specialty?

ICU, PACU, and most recently Interventional Radiology (IR). I also have 20 years long term experience, but don't use that during my travels.

Years as a nurse?

This August it will be 33 years. I graduated August 8, 1981 from the University of Florida.

Years as a traveler?

7 years

Do you travel with a significant other? Children? Other family? Pets?

I travel with my husband.

What made you decide to pursue a career as a traveling nurse?
I always wanted to be a travel nurse, even while in nursing school.

My first husband hated to travel. I took a job with the State of Florida and stayed there for 20 years. I left the abusive marriage after 18 years. I knew I wanted to travel as soon as my son was out of school. I had been out of hospital nursing for 15 years and knew I needed to get back into it if I wanted to pursue my dream of traveling. So I worked per diem on weekends at Shands at the University of Florida in their ICU pool. I worked every ICU, including MICU, CCU, CVICU, SICU, trauma ICU, Burn ICU, Stepdown, ER, and PACU. I got the best experience in the world doing that. I did that for 4 years part time and then after 20 yrs I retired from the State of Florida in 2005. I started applying to different agencies, but my goal was to start with Hawaii. I continued working per diem for 2 years (which I loved...the staffing office personnel one day asked me "Do you just wake up and decide if you are going to work that day?" and I said "yes, if you need me you need me and if not, no problem". Being in the ICU float pool I pretty much could work 16 hrs a day 7 days a week if I wanted. I finally got my Hawaii job in April 2007.

Which company do you currently travel with? Why did you choose that company?

I am currently with RN Network. My old company could not get me into Shands at the University of Florida where I wanted to go, so I called their HR dept. found out they used a 3rd party vendor and called them. They told me which companies they used. I saw my recruiter, Rachel Shafer on line on Facebook and decided to go with her.

What has been your favorite assignment?

Favorite assignment is hard. I've liked alot of hospitals. One of my favorite was St. Al's in Baker City Oregon. My old company kept on trying to send me there. I didn't want to go because it was a two bed ICU (and I was used to big teaching hospitals). I loved it. I was it...RN, aide, tech, telemetry monitor etc. Sick patients weret flown out. It was attached to the ED, so I always had back up if needed. I also helped out in ED when I had no patients. Favorite location would be Hawaii (Oahu). I could live there, but my husband gets island fever. It is just so far from family. Second favorite location would have to be Redding California. I loved all the outdoor activities and weather. Most fun location would have to be the Virgin Islands. (St Thomas). Had a blast!

What does your significant other do when you are working?

What Ted does with his time off? Depends on where we are. We love to take assignments near family. We spent 6 months in Kansas near his 94 y/o aunt (who raised him). He spent nearly every day visiting with her, helping her keep her apartment up etc. She has since passed away and we have such great memories of her last year and feel like we really contributed to her happiness and quality of life. As a nurse, I was able to help her a lot also. She had severe constipation, and I had to digitally disimpact her several times (which would have been a trip to the ED and possibly hospitalization for her...which she had never been a patient in the hospital her whole life).

Right now we are at an assignment near his son and my son. His son bought a house and for the past 5 months he has been fixing it up for his son. Literally almost 40 hours a week. He loves to stay busy. On assignments not near family he does all the cooking, cleaning, and shopping so I can enjoy my days off. He always joins a gym and usually goes to exercise as soon as he drops me off to work. He also likes to play basketball and will often find a city park and start shooting hoops and get in a game if he can. We love to hike so we always do that if we are near mountains. He has gone hiking alone while I'm at work, but not often as he knows I worry too much (he tends not to stay on the trail). We love assignments near beaches and he loves to go to the beach while I am working. Last summer at our RV park one of the permanent woman there had a grandson (Conner) who had lost his dad when he was a baby. Ted pretty much adopted him last summer. They would spend hours playing games in the pool, and Conner actually didn't like it when I had off...lol It was hard to leave Conner and Ted is Facebook friends with his mother and they still keep in touch.

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you first started traveling that you know now?

I wish I knew you could negotiate salary when I started. I wish I knew that you can give notice and quit if you have to (apparently most places you can).

What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a first time traveler or someone considering traveling?

The one piece of advice to a new traveler...take whatever you can for your first assignment. The first one is so hard to get, and once you have one under your belt, you have more options. I would also say NEVER break a contract unless your license is in jeopardy, but if your license is in jeopardy, don't risk it. It’s not worth it. Break that contract and go on to the next. Also, always get a phone interview. The one hospital from hell, I never had a phone interview and got to ask my questions (i.e nurse pt ratio etc. ).

We would love to hear your travel nursing story! If you are up to the challenge, you can easily submit your story online.Whether you are just getting started as a traveler or have traveled for several years, your story could inspire others and help them decide if travel nursing is right for them. Thanks!

  • Sue Smith

    Loved this !!! Very Well Written!!! Good Read!!

    • Brad Crawford

      Thanks Sue! I agree, Dorothy did a great job telling her story and offered some great advice for anyone thinking about traveling.