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Jonathan’s Story: A 12-year Journey to Travel Nursing

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Currently I’m a Registered Nurse working with RN Network. Prior to that I worked 12 years with the Baycare Health Systems. Twelve years seems like a long time but its been a great training road to get me to where I am today. During my pre-nursing days I wore many hats in the healthcare field. Once upon a time I was an orderly (transporter) for 5 years. I would escort patients and families to exams in the radiology department and set rooms for particular procedure VCUG’s, GI Studies, and simple x-rays. I would have to also assist the radiology technician with positioning the patient’s properly for each procedure. As time passed I knew I wanted to do something more, something that helps others, but I wasn’t quite sure what. I felt I could not do nursing due to the “blood and guts” a nurse had to deal with on a regular basis.

While as a transporter, I accepted a position as an orderly in the MRI department over night from 10p-7a. I would escort in house patients, along with ICU patients, and help bring trauma patients to their exams. I began to slowly become introduced to this thing I called “blood and guts” that I said I could not do at one time. I realized it wasn’t that bad and began wanting to learn more and do more. I would assist the ICU nurses to MRI with their patients and they would continually tell me “you should become a nurse, you’d be good at it.” I would always give the same answer, “Me, psssh, never. All the blood and guts! I could never deal with that or do what you do!”.

As a year or so passed I became friends with many of the ICU staff. They convinced me to challenge my CNA exam and become a patient support tech in the ICU, just to see if I liked nursing. They said it was a way to get your feet a little wet and see what we really do on a daily basis. So I did, and loved it. Before I knew it the blood and guts were second nature, I was making poop jokes and drinking apple juice out of urinals along with the next nurse. I also noticed how much these nurses really touched the lives of each and every patient they came into contact with. I noticed even though each one of these nurses clocked in and clocked out daily, something more continually brought them back to the hospital. Something more than money or the need to work to provide for their families. Even though all of that is important, I felt something bigger allowed them to enjoy what they do deep down inside, but I did not know what.

So, I attended nursing school wanting to have the same outlook on work and life as many of these nurses I worked with. I began my journeys at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa,FL. As time passed I learned Baycare Health Systems will pay for your schooling, as well as, nursing school. The only option was that I have to give the company two years back of work. I had already been with the company 10 years so whats 2 more I thought. So, I would transfer to St. Petersburg College in 2010. This is where Baycare Health Systems would have a contract with for their nursing program at their headquarters in Clearwater, FL.

As many of us remembered the grueling days or care plans, clinicals, papers, and studying of nursing school, we always had a release or place to go to get your mind off those care plans. I noticed mine became work. During this time I met a student that was doing her ICU internship. We were both somewhat new to the unit, so we would give each tips on how to survive in such a grueling unit. As this friendship grew over time, I did the classic “dating a co-worker”. We wanted to keep it as much of a secret as we could. So, we would ride separately to work or I’d drop her off in a different entrance so no one would notice us. This went on for about a year until someone began to question things they had seen on social media. By this time, we said the “cats out of the bag", let’s just admit it.

Time passed and I completed nursing school in 2012 and accepted an ICU internship with 6 months of ICU training upon completion of the NCLEX exam. Married my best friend, best clinical resource, and biggest rock to keep me standing at times Nicole Arendt on October 24, 2013. Since completion of nursing school, time and life has kind of sped up to 100mph. Between getting married, completing ICU ECHO program, and working two years as a nurse, my now wife and I decided to travel together.

After speaking with what seemed like 100 companies and agencies, we thought maybe traveling wasn’t for us. The lines, the gimmicks, and the hoola hoops became overwhelming until we noticed we had a personal friend that was a recruiter for RN Network. We decided to give it a shot with her since there would be no gimmicks. So in February of 2014 we gave our two weeks notice and signed our first travel assignment within our local state of Florida. We signed the contract in Plantation, Florida at Westside Regional Hospital. Upon completion of our South Florida assignment we decide to really dive into travel nursing and take an assignment far from home, our first “real” assignment. We recently signed a contract at Chandler Regional Hospital in Chandler, Arizona in July.

The Arizona assignment currently is our favorite one so far. We’ve only been on two assignments but this is our first real away from home assignment. It has allowed us to really live the lifestyle as a travel nurse and see sights we have not been able to for the first time. For example one weekend we drove to LA, California, took a day trip to Jerome, AZ, and we spent my birthday in Sedona, AZ.

Travel nursing brings out the best and worst in everyone. Its a wonderful way to explore cities and sites we might not get the chance to ever see again while getting the chance to give back to a group or community we’ve never met before sometimes. At times I have those moments where I become homesick or question if lifestyle of a travel nurse is right for me due to the solitude. Then I remember why I am doing this and the great opportunity I currently have been given.

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!