Friday, March 15, 2013

Thoughts on Travel Nursing...

Travel Nursing: Two of my favorite things combined in one term.

As a now "fairly experienced" nurse, having almost 4 years under my belt, I'm always looking for new opportunities to expand my skills. And yes, I am in grad school but I'm always looking ahead to the next step to learn even more. My appetite for knowledge never subsides.

I first looked into travel nursing when I traveled to California last year to visit one of my friends from college who moved there two summers ago with her new husband. As any New England/Mid-Atlantic dweller, I feel in love with southern California. The lifestyle and weather won me over instantly. The idea of running along a beach in February without losing fingertips to frostbite was enough to spark my interest. Now, how could I get out here without being tied down (to a job meaning giving them at least a year of my time after providing me with an orientation)?  I've worked with travel nurses at my last in Cambridge. They always seemed like happy, carefree, and confident nurses. Many were from the Boston area but would take assignments in Arizona or California during the winter time then come back to Boston to be with their families during the summer.
My college friend and I on a brunch cruise near the Coronado Bridge in San Diego
What's so great about it?

Hospitals pay an agency to give them an experienced nurse short notice to fill staffing gaps. On top of a pretty good pay rate, the agency sets you up in housing (fully furnished) or gives you a housing stipend based on the cost of living in the surrounding area. In order to expedite this process, the agency usually also pays for licensing fees and gives a relocation/travel stipend to get you to the assignment (and sometimes back). Plus! Day 1 health/dental coverage, free CEUs and referral bonuses if you refer another nurse to their agency.

Too good to be true? There's always a downside. In this case, orientation for travel nurses vary. A hospital may expect you to be up and running after a 2 day orientation. Others may be more generous and give you a week. So basically, you have to be confident in your skill set.

Now as I'm nearing the end of my NP program (t-125 days!), I'm looking for a new challenge and a change of scenery. I've successfully recruited a friend/nurse from Penn so I can share this new adventure. I've talked with a few travel nurse companies and now I've taken to blogs to gather more information. Any tips or words of advice?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

So why didn't you go to med school...

I feel like I answer these questions on a weekly basis: why didn't you just go to med school or what is a nurse practitioner? I just found out really what an NP was last semester.

....drumroll please.....

An adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner is a board-certified, master's prepared, advanced practice nurse who independently assesses, diagnoses and treats, including pharmacological and non-pharmacological modalities, acutely ill and chronically complex adults in collaboration with physicians.

Did you get that? Ok, good.

Basically it comes down to one thing: I was born to be a nurse. I'm pretty sure there is some undiscovered genetic code that pre-disposes a person to becoming a nurse as their career choice: strong stomachs, large bladders, and a big heart (genetic research in my future?) Though my mother and aunt are nurses, I was never immersed in the career of nursing when I was growing up. I made this decision on my own in A&P class in the 11th grade. I loved taking care of people and I wanted someone to benefit from my skills. I am also infatuated with the human body and our ability to heal/fight. With that being said, I made a decision that I wanted to be a nurse and grow up to work in the NICU (neonatal ICU) at the Brigham in Boston. After graduating from nursing school I decided babies were definitely not my thing and started to work on a neuro/stroke floor in a small hospital in Cambridge, Mass. But after a year, I wasn't being challenged enough. I decided I wanted to go to grad school but for what?
My mom and I at Catalina Island last summer
 I loved teaching so I headed in the CNS (clinical nurse specialist) direction. Watching the NPs at my job in Cambridge was discouraging. They basically just filled in for MDs when they were on vacation and on weekends (not a good system at all). After narrowing down (and looking at generous tuition packages from hospitals) I decided on Penn. Best decision I ever made. In October 2010 I said goodbye to Boston, packed up my Jeep and headed south to the City of Brotherly Love. I started work at the number 1 hospital in the nation (at the time): the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania. I fell in love with my job and I still love it today.  I work with amazing physicians, NPs, PAs and nursing staff everyday.
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia
I started at Penn's School of Nursing in January 2011. It didn't take me long into the program to realize that I wanted to switch to the acute care NP program after watching the NPs on my floor.  They are an integral part of the team. I realized that the NP role varies A LOT from setting to setting and I wanted to be a part of the decision making. I also wanted to learn as much as a I could before my brain exploded. Now I'm sitting here with 5 1/2 months left (my brain exploded a couple months ago) and itching to graduate.  I'm ready for the next chapter in my life...but not as an NP (not just yet).

How did you decide you wanted to be a nurse or nurse practitioner?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My anxiolytic

My first post in my own blog: I haven't decided where I want to take this! I'm a Registered Nurse and a student Nurse Practitioner while trying to be a normal 20 something-year old and experience a new city.  I'm really big into sweating it out everyday as my natural antidepressant and eating healthy. The most important thing in life is to enjoy it and setting realistic goals. I've created this blog to help myself and others achieve a work-life-school balance. This is for everyone so I would love input from others regarding being a nurse, student, fitness expert, nutritionist, etc.!

x Nicole