We sat down with some stellar travel nurses and asked them about the challenges and triumphs they’ve experienced in their travels.
In this travel nursing interview, Saynab Omer talks about learning to be more empathetic, facing down bullies, and picking the right recruiter.
How did you get started as a travel nurse?
I had just turned 23. My family was going through some problems, and I had to pick up a job at a second hospital. They had a lot of travel nurses there who loved their job, and that really got my attention.
Like a lot of beginning travel nurses, I searched Google to find my travel nursing staffing agencies. With my first agency, I worked with a not-so-great recruiter, who just wasn’t honest with me. That’s a terrible feeling, to be out at these hospitals and not be able to trust that your agency has your back.
I randomly picked TotalMed from Gypsy Nurse’s top ten staffing agencies. I love my TotalMed recruiter to death. She has been there for me through the toughest times.
A lot of people tell you that you should work with multiple agencies and just pick the one that gives you the most money. Money is important. But, it’s also important to me to have a good, honest relationship with my recruiter and to go to traveler-friendly hospitals. Working with TotalMed has been a dream.
Like a lot of people, I wanted to go to the fun, adventurous places like Alaska and Hawaii. My TotalMed recruiter even said, if I can’t find you a job there, I’ll refer you to another agency that might have just what you’re looking for. Things like that stood out — TotalMed has been like a family to me.
What are some things you love about travel nursing?
I love my patients and the nurses I work with. Everyone has been kind everywhere I go.
Patients go out of their way to be nice. In fact, sometimes it’s hard to get them to talk about themselves, how they’re doing, what their pain level is, because they just want to ask me questions. You’re from Texas? What’s it like there? What do you do for fun? But it’s nice because the conversation distracts them from their pain, transports them out of the hospital room for a little.
You learn to have more empathy when you are a travel nurse because you meet so many different patients and nurses in all kinds of situations.
And, even if you don’t know the team you’re working with very well, they still always have your back. If you go through a code or other tough situation, they always rush in to help. They never just perform CPR and then rush out. Afterward, they always stop and say, That was a tough one. Are you okay? Do you want to talk?
What challenges do you face as a travel nurse?
Coming into a new hospital is demanding. What would take you 5 minutes in your home hospital might take you 15 minutes in a new hospital because you have to learn to find things, learn all these new processes.
The mental and emotional exhaustion is more of a challenge for me than the physical exhaustion. Sometimes you have to deal with verbal abuse from physicians.
When rough things happen, you just have to take a deep breath and remember your patients. Go into the bathroom, wash your face, and take another deep breath. And remember, it’s only 13 weeks. If you weren’t a traveler, the bad seeds would be an everyday part of your life.
Another hard spot is that not all hospitals follow evidence-based practice. They believe in doing things they way they’ve always done them. So, I’ve learned to advocate for myself, to stand up for what’s right. I put articles in front of my supervisors and say, I’m sure you’re in the process of implementing this, but I just wanted to make sure you saw this article. Let’s start doing this now.
What advice would you give to a travel nurse just starting out?
Go into travel nursing with some experience under your belt. Though you may only need a year or two, the more experience you have, the more confident you’ll be. If you’re confident, it’s going to benefit your patients.
Also, it’s very important to have a tough skin. You have to speak up for yourself. If you’re not taking care of yourself, no one will
Stay on top of your evidence-based practice, too. Keep growing and learning.
And make sure to pick the right recruiter. If your recruiter isn’t honest and kind, keep looking. The right one is out there for you.
Would you like to be interviewed for our travel nursing series? Shoot us an email and tell us a little about your travel nursing experience.