Maria and Kevin Lauer agree they’ve never had a bad assignment in their ten years of travel nursing as married travel nurses.
Together they’ve accrued more than 40 years of nursing experience and have been traveling with the Medical Solutions for the past two years, currently assigned to the El Centro Regional Medical Center in El Centro, Calif. “Travel nursing gives us the freedom to make our own schedules and work in hospitals and locations that appeal to us in our joined effort to foster good patient care and to provide opportunities to become the best nurses we can be,” said Kevin Lauer, RN, BSN, a retired Naval Officer and experienced OR nurse. To meet these goals we say a prayer each day that we will make a positive difference in our patients’ lives.”
“We love nursing and give our all because we want our patients to have a successful recovery,” Maria, an RN and ICU nurse concurred. “Traveling across our country is an asset because we get the chance to monitor the pulse of American healthcare and experience our country’s beauty and diverse culture. Travel supports learning about the unique ways patient care is approached in different places.”
The Joseph M. Still Burn Center: A Career Highlight
The hallmark of the Lauer’s married travel nurses career occurred when they were assigned for more than a year to Doctors Hospital in Augusta, GA., home of the 70-bed Joseph M. Still Burn Center, the largest burn center in the United States. Among the 3,000 patients treated there each year were a five day old infant and a 101 year old adult, Maria recounted. “Most adult burns occur due to accidents and injuries caused by flame, steam, noxious chemicals and gases,” she said. “Burn patients endure great physical and emotional pain and discomfort and often require multi-level nursing care to treat existing health conditions, like cardiac related problems, diabetes and those who require bedside hemodialysis due to electrolyte imbalances and renal failure. Travel nursing has given me opportunities to work in a variety of speciality ICUs and those experiences have broadened my nursing expertise.”
Burns that require Skin Grafts
Skin grafts are required for deep second and third degree burns that call for surgical procedures to harvest skin about the size of a letter envelope, Kevin explained. Skin is usually harvested from patients’ thighs. When burns are severe and there’s no available skin to harvest from donors, cadaver skin is harvested and preserved within freezers until needed. During skin grafts patients’ skin is scraped to induce blood flow and the skin graft is stapled into the skinless area of the body. This procedure is repeated every three days for about three weeks. “When skin is required but not available from patients, donors or cadavers, skin cells are harvested and sent to a special laboratory where skin is grown from cells and then grafted into a patient’s skinless area to continue the growth cycle,” Kevin said.
Travel Nursing Insights
While assigned to Doctors Hospital Kevin recalled being scheduled to work in the Main OR for General Surgeries. However, plans changed when he was asked to float to the Burn OR due to his advanced skills gained while working in different types of ORs where he assisted surgeons with a variety of surgical procedures. “At first I found the Burn OR to be a difficult and sad place that took time to get used to. I also witnessed some awesome recoveries. It’s a wonderful feeling when you see patients who’ve sustained burns in 90 percent of their bodies walk out of the hospital. I enjoy OR nursing because I have an active role in the surgical process and can see what I’m doing makes a positive difference.”
“A love of nursing increases our capacity for human compassion and transcends human frailty,” Maria commented.
Home and Family
The Lauer’s call Pensacola. Fla. their home where they enjoy spending time with family and friends, and attending winter sky shows presented by the Blue Angels. As their family includes eight adult children and numerous grandchildren, some who live in other states, they enjoy having time off to visit them. Being married travel nurses has given them the ultimate way to share their love of people, travel and nursing.