I’ve been a nurse for almost six years and have worked as an ER travel nurse for a year now. Since I’ve started traveling, I’ve worked in three different facilities. My most recent and current one has been the most difficult work environment by far. Like many ERs across the United States, the hospital I am assigned to has been struggling with staffing shortages and high patient volumes for months. We are regularly understaffed and overburdened with a multitude of critically ill patients at the same time.
Patients admitted to the hospital often wait in stretchers in the hallways of our ER for days awaiting a bed assignment upstairs, clogging patient flow, and leaving us without space to care for new patients. Despite the difficult work environment, I’ve been working there since August and have extended my contract twice for a couple of reasons. The location works for my personal life, I’ve developed immense pride in the work I’ve been able to accomplish, I’ve grown stronger both mentally and emotionally, and I know that my work is respected and appreciated.
Staff Nurses are Grateful for You
A few Saturdays ago during the 7 a.m. daily pre-shift huddle, the charge nurse paused after reviewing everyone’s assignments. She looked around the small circle of us and said, “I just want to give a shout out to Mary, Pam, and Whitney” (myself and the other two travel nurses on shift that day). “Some travelers come here, they see how it is, and they leave. Some travelers come just to make the money, and believe me, I know you guys are making the money. But you three come here to help us, and to take care of these patients. And I really appreciate that.” The other staff nurses in the circle echoed their agreement. That entire day I was light on my feet, knowing that the difference I was making had been noticed.
Patients Appreciate You
On several occasions while caring for patients in my current facility, I’ve been asked, “Are you a traveling nurse?” When I affirm their question, the frequent response is, “It seems like everyone here is a traveling nurse. Well, we appreciate you coming here.” The community I am working in is low income, underserved, and chronic illness is common in the population. There are not many local nurses in the area so this hospital in particular is highly supplemented by travel nurses. Patients see that, and they appreciate that nurses are willing to come into their community to serve.
Providers Respect You
The providers in the ER I work in are used to meeting new nurses every couple of months. While working in the triage area a few weeks ago, one of the physician assistants asked me, “Are you full-time staff? Or are you a traveler?” I told her I was a traveler and she said “Of course. All our best nurses are travelers!” The providers notice that travel nurses are quick to adapt and learn and not much brings us down. After learning a challenging hospital in just two days, I feel confident that the doors are open for me – I can work anywhere.
The Hospital Couldn’t Survive Without You
Even hospital administration, which let’s be honest isn’t known for particularly caring about the needs of bedside nurses, notices the value of travel nurses. I received a job offer at a highly respectable hospital without even being interviewed. The ER director observed my work for a few hours and was amazed at my skills and work ethic on my first day. In my current unit, two-thirds of the nurses are travel nurses and the hospital is still barely staying afloat. With today’s increasing demand for nurses, the hospital you work in would struggle greatly without you.
If you’re considering starting travel nursing but are wondering if you’ll fit in and be respected at the hospitals you work, rest assured that your work will be appreciated. As long as you walk through the doors with an open mind, a compassionate heart, and ready to work, you will provide a much-needed service to your new temporary community.
A registered nurse since 2016, Mary has experience in internal medicine, international medical aid and emergency medicine where she currently practices. Mary is most passionate about empowering patients through education and creating safe, supportive work environments for nurses. In her free time Mary finds joy in her catholic faith, running, trying new recipes and spending time with friends and family.