When she graduated from a NYS nursing school Joan Turck, RN, BSN had no idea she would become a travel nurse and relocate to Georgia. A year later her mother was living in North Carolina when she became ill and needed assistance. So, when the opportunity presented itself to take a travel nursing job Turck accepted an assignment with an agency and she has been traveling since 2002.
“Northside Hospital in Atlanta, that first assignment, has an excellent orientation program that is particularly helpful for travel nurses,” she said. “It’s a very detailed and well organized program that is streamlined to meet traveler’s needs.”
He current travel nursing job is with a medical center in Valhalla, NY. Turck works on a Cardio Thoracic ICU/ Stepdown Unit. Certified in Advanced Cardiac Support and Basic Life Support she cares for patients who’ve had heart transplants and other types of cardiac surgery, like the insertion of left ventricular assistive devices (LVADs). “LAVDs are inserted surgically and are placed to help improve heart function and quality of life for patients who are awaiting heart transplants, or those whom may not qualify for a transplant but could still benefit from improving their quality of life,” Turck said. “In the simplest terms these devices allow the heart to pump and function better.” Some patients have extended stays, usually due to either post op complications or they’re awaiting heart transplants and are too sick to be discharged. This particular hospital does some of the highest risk heart surgeries in New York, Turck pointed out. “Patients are extremely sick and usually have numerous other health issues prior to having open heart surgery.”
Nurse responsibilities are varied while caring for these patients. “We monitor and maintain ventilator settings, observe hemodynamic monitoring (monitor the passage of blood to the heart’s tissues) and heart rhythm monitoring and treatment,”, she explained. “We also administer IV meds and use specialized equipment. Close observation and assessment to detect even subtle changes in a patient’s overall condition is a vital nurse responsibility. “
“Patients I’ve cared for taught me the value of life and how to treasure it and to hold onto hope against all odds,” Turck said. “You have to believe and you have to have hope.”
Flexibility and Change
In addition to working with three “amazing recruiters,” Turck enjoys the flexibility that travel nursing provides. “Travel nursing gives me opportunities to see how things are done in a variety of settings,” she said. “I like that because when I get to feeling every day is the same and nothing changes, I know it’s time to move on. I’ve had occasions to see areas of nursing I never thought I’d see. As an example, I’ve been assigned to a burn unit, something I never had done before and through experiences like this I’ve learned so much.”
Favorite Travel Nursing Job
“Working at Westchester Medical Center has been my favorite travel nursing job,” Turck said. “ My goal since nursing school has been to care for heart transplant patients and now I am doing that. At Westchester Medical Center patients come first and nurses are team players who share the same passion for nursing. We work together and support each other. What’s important to me is that my nursing colleagues don’t have an I’m out for myself attitude.”
Place Best- Liked
“The place I like best, so far, is New Bern, NC. I enjoy going to the beautiful Crystal Coast beaches.” New Bern is the oldest town in North Carolina noted for its beaches, river cruises theaters and cultural events. It’s also the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola. Invented by pharmacist Caleb Brodhan during 1898, Pepsi was first known as “Bert’s drink.”
Travel Nursing Reaps Self Knowledge
“I know I want to go places. I have my dream contracts and I can’t wait to go and do them. I’ve learned during my travel nursing experiences that I can be more than I thought I could be. I can accomplish things I want to do and I’m not limited because I can continue to build my career. A lot of people think of travel nursing as a tradeoff because you’re missing opportunities. Wherever I’ve been I’ve learned something and through networking with others I’ve made valuable connections.”
Suggestions for Travel Nurse Aspirants
When you consider travel remember the market fluctuates and you may not know where your next assignment will be,” Turck advised. “It’s important to be aware of nursing procedures and to learn more about facility policies that may change from place to place. Network with others to find a staff member who can assist you to learn more about your job role. Get to know nurses who share your values and goals and keep in touch with them. Keep in mind that you can have good or bad co-workers regardless of being a staff or travel nurse,” she said. “You need to be cooperative, flexible and willing to travel to new places and work in nursing departments that are new to you. Be willing to learn as you develop a comfort level as a travel nurse.”
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This is another addition to our “Meet the Travel Nurses” series. You can find more stories like this HERE.
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