Travel Nursing Series: Meet the Nurses
Encouraged by her husband to take a chance on a travel career, Renae Conner, RN has been employed by Trustaff, a supplemental staffing company, for more than seven years. A resident of Murray IA, she’s a medical-surgical night nurse currently assigned at St. Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, CA. “The staff here at St. Agnes is very welcoming and helpful and that’s a good feeling when you’re on assignment,” Conner said.
“During my years as a travel nurse I’ve noticed patients’ ages on admission have increased. Recently I cared for a 99- year-old who was as healthy as a horse until this past fall,” Conner said. She mentioned new advancements in treatments and prevention, especially in infection control practices, and pointed out patients are better educated about their health conditions and more comfortable asking questions. “Hospitals tend to discharge patients earlier than they used to, and I think they’ve learned we were discharging patients too fast and without help at home.”
According to Conner, Methodist Hospital in Mansfield, Texas is her favorite assignment “because management staff put patients first and encourages all employees, including travel nurses, to be respectful of each other at all times,” she said. “This philosophy is also expected of doctors on staff as they’re advised to treat all nurses with respect in every interaction. At Methodist Hospital nurses are treated as valued professionals.”
During the course of her travel nursing career Renae has been on more than 15 assignments.
The Problem with Semantics
Differences in semantics and the use of terminology can be a problem, Conner asserted. While assigned to a hospital she questioned terminology used in a nursing policy that described restraints as behavioral devices. “I didn’t understand what those words referred to as words can be interpreted differently by those who read them. To me, the only words that should be used in nursing policies and procedures are those that are universally used and understood by everyone.”
Personal Insights on Travel Nursing
“I’ve met a lot of nice people travel nursing, many of them new friends,” she smiled. “I’ve enjoyed working and being with other travel nurses because of the comaradie we have being together. I’ve also had a couple of travel nurse roommates and you get to know them better than other friends. When you live with someone else you feel less lonely as you are a distance from home and family.”
Hospital staff nurses are generally helpful towards travel nursing staff and share specific information about individual doctors and the care they require for their patients, Conner pointed out. “Most staff nurses I’ve worked with are collegial professionals willing to take newcomers in hand while they explain and show them how their hospital cares for patients and assists their families,” she said.
Favorite Places and Activities
Yuba City, CA. is near the top of Conner’s list of favorites because of the outdoor activites available and location near Lake Tahoe “where its beauty is breathtaking.” Another is the Pismo Beach area situated along California’s Central Coast. “It’s a coastal area where you can unwind and soak in ocean breezes while you enjoy listening to the booming sounds of waves as they hit the shore,” she said. “Hiking is also a relaxing activity that gives you a chance to look around and see different scenes, and its lots of fun when friends come along. Sometimes I like to get away by myself because it gives me so much serenity,” Conner advised caution about places to hike, especially if you go alone.
Parting Words of Wisdom
Once experienced in their nursing speciality I think it’s a good idea for nurses to embark on a travel career, even for little while, because there’s so much to learn. “One of the most important things I learned is how to stand up for myself,” Conner declared. While assigned to a hospital where unit staff nurses weren’t supportive she noticed her assignments were the most difficult to complete. To remedy the situation she requested a meeting with the unit manager. “During our conversation I spoke to her in a calm and respectful manner as I told her the facts as I knew them to be,” she said. “The manager listened carefully, agreed I was being taken advantage of, and did what she could to correct the situation. Sometimes it’s best to bite your tongue while at other times you have a responsibility to stand up for yourself,” Conner advised.
“Travel nursing is a wonderful career, “she said. “And, I think in a large part its due to my recruiter, Mike Williams. “I’d recommend looking for a recruiter like Mike who is honest enough to tell you the truth about yourself, a place or how a system works. Like me, you need a recruiter who is caring and willing to back you up, as needed.”