I left the south and headed up North to start my travel nursing career. New York…Queens to be exact. What a change for me..I was excited about doing what I loved and earning more money in the process. I was looking forward to connecting with people, traveling, dictating my schedule, taking more vacations, and leaving my last past work misery behind. I was ready, willing, and able. ….So I thought.
My first shift at this large facility came with a few unexpected surprises. First, while being on my first day of orientation, I was approached by a staff nurse from the unit who quickly introduced herself to me and felt the need to tell me that she was NOT pleased with me being there. How about that for a welcome? My first travel assignment and my first day, I’m told, “I don’t want you here.” What the hell is this all about I thought, maybe I made a bad decision coming here. Maybe I wasn’t ready for the northern way of life, the attitudes and behaviors that came along with this traveling gig. The nurse who told me this made her feelings known and walked away. I collected my thoughts and continued with my orientation. I only had 2 days to learn what I needed to have a successful 13 week assignment and I didn’t have time to waste and especially not on her.
The unit was like no other I had ever worked before. No hot water, the rooms were the size of a closet, not that many American nurses and a pitbull of a charge nurse/mananger. The staff was seasoned and clinically strong, but they were hard core NYer’s. No pleasantries, just strictly business. Thankfully I had a great nurse to orient me to the 26 bed unit. For a nano-second I contemplated telling the manager about the nurse that insulted me but I decided not to. I was focused on doing something different, earning more money and staying far away from the politics of leadership and management, so I dealt with her the next day on my terms. It worked out much better that way. My second day of orientation went rather smoothly and I was happy about that. I had one day off in-between my two day orientation and my first day on my own and I enjoyed that day out in NYC…I had never been to NY before so this was quite the treat after the two days I had at the facility.
My first day off orientation…10 minutes after I took report, one of my patients coded. Thank goodness, I was well rested because I was not expecting that. There were 2 great nurses who came to my side and helped me thru that chaos that comes with and dealing with the docs, surgeons and nursing leadership. The code went well overall, but when I finally left that day, I started to question if I had done the right thing and did I need to consider going back. It didn’t take me long to decide against going back, I hated what I had just left and unless this change was unbearable, I was going to hang in there as long as I mentally, emotionally and physically could.
Even though this ended up being a rough first travel assignment, I learned SO much personally and professionally. I earned way more money that I would have had I stayed where I was before. I was proud at the fact that I stretched myself and didn’t go back to a place of comfort and security even though it would have been the easiest thing to do. The pro’s of this change definitely outweighed the con’s.
I loved the fact that I decided my contracts dates, length and locations. I added in vacation days as needed and wanted. I was extracted out of the conversations by management and leadership about the “going on’s” of the unit, staffing and budgeting. I held the power to negotiating my worth, no one else. All these things made me a much more happier, skilled and content nurse. The picture wasn’t perfect, but perfect enough for me.