We sat down with some stellar travel nurses and asked them about the challenges and triumphs they’ve experienced. Tiffany Cash reveals how she got out of her comfort zone, what she’s learned from other cultures, and how she stays connected with her family back home.
How did you get into travel nursing?
I’ve been a nurse for 5 years now. Awhile back, some of the nurses on my old ward went into travel nursing and that got me interested. I did a bit of research, but then my grandpa got ill, and I put everything on hold.
He passed away about two weeks later, and when I got home, my Washington nursing license was sitting on my bed. It felt like a sign from my grandfather that I needed to go. So, I contacted my recruiter, and within 3 weeks, I was packing up and on my way.
My family was a huge part in encouraging me to get out there and see the world.
What are some things you love about travel nursing?
I’ve been in Washington for the past 9 months and have renewed two times. I’ve stayed here and seen some of the most amazing things — I can literally see the Pacific Ocean from my apartment right now.
I love getting to meet all kinds of people, in and out of the hospital. I have learned about different cultures and how they respond to healthcare. I am a labor and delivery nurse, and the way women respond to pain, labor, and childbirth varies so much. One of my favorite things is learning from my patients. I’m getting to know so many things about other parts of the world, just from interacting with my patients, doctors, and other nurses.
What are your top challenges as a travel nurse?
The language and culture barriers have been challenging. I had to learn that it’s ok for the dad not to be there during childbirth. In some cultures, it’s just not an event that men participate in. I would want to encourage the dads to be there during the childbirth because it’s such an amazing thing. So, I had to learn to respect their wishes and culture.
Another challenge is being away from my family. I’ve always been a homebody and a little bit of a private person, so I’ve really had to expand my horizons. I’ve grown to accept that it’s ok if I can’t be there for every holiday and birthday. And, the best thing is, my family and I have grown closer, even though I’m farther away.
What unique strategies do you use to tackle these challenges?
Technology makes it so that my family is just a tap away. I can hit a button and call my sweet family.
Technology is also helpful when it comes to understanding different cultures and languages. Google Languages is huge. When I’m waiting on an interpreter, I can look up some words I need to know. We’re an obstetrical ER, so things can get heated and happen fast. Sometimes the baby comes before the interpreter does!
What advice would you give to a travel nurse just starting out?
Get outside of your box. Not everyone thinks the way you do, and not everyone provides healthcare the way you do. The way you’ve always done it isn’t necessarily the best. Be open to criticism.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If someone asks why I’m doing something a certain way, I’ll ask, “what do you recommend? what do you suggest?” Sometimes the way they do things isn’t the easiest way, and they learn things from me, too.
You’re just a visitor in each hospital, so be very respectful of the way they do things. Be open minded, think outside the box, and be open to criticism. You need a little tough skin and a little tough love sometimes.
I love my job. Travel nursing has been a great experience for me. Even if I stay here a little longer, I know I’ll travel again in the future. It’s been an amazing experience. My best advice is that if anyone has the slightest idea that this might be something they should do, they should at least try it once.
Want more travel nursing interviews? Check out our entire series.