We love sharing stories about our travelers! From our travel social worker Jen telling us about how the timing was right for her and her husband to make a change, to our Physician Assistant Matt sharing his story of working in the COVID-19 ICU during the height of the pandemic, we love learning what life is like on the road. In this article, we interview our Licensed Professional Counselor Nicky whose parents supported her decision to enter the world of mental health after a cousin was involved in an accident and suffered PTSD.
Passion for her work
Nicky’s passion for helping others started at a young age when she started asking questions about a cousin who had witnessed an accident that involved his two brothers. She notes that he wasn’t the same after the event and that’s when she started asking questions and researching PTSD and how she could help him.
She says, “It was then that I discovered the world of psychology and counseling and my journey began.”
The youngest of eight children plus an adopted brother, Nicky has two sisters, six brothers, and one son who is 22 years old. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology/Sociology, Master of Education with a concentration in Counseling and Psychology, Certificate in Addiction Counseling, and a Master of Arts in Community Counseling along with many certificates within the mental health arena. She thanks her parents for planting the initial seed to enter the field.
Why did you want to start traveling?
“I decided to start traveling because traveling is something I have always loved and was exposed to in my formative years. After years of caring for loved ones that had transitioned, a conversation with my son helped me to decide to start living for myself.
The attraction was and still is seeing different parts of the US, learning about the different cultures, and doing what I love while making decent pay.”
Tell us about your travel contract adventures.
“I am currently working in Dillingham, Alaska. In the Spring, I am starting my fourth contract. I’ve worked in Nicholls, Georgia at Coffee Correctional Facility, in Grants, New Mexico at Northwestern Correctional Facility, and in Dillingham, Alaska at Bristol Bay Health Corporation, and now in Ketchikan, Alaska at KAR House Residential Program/Akeela. So far, Dillingham has been my favorite.”
What do you love most about your job?
“What I like most about my job is observing, learning from and talking to the Natives, and combining the cultural information with my educational training, and applying it to make an individual’s life more manageable. Also developing relationships that will last forever.”
We often tell professionals who are interested in traveling exactly the same as what Nicky said! You have opportunities to learn and explore while making friendships that can last a long time – and all while you’re flexing your experience muscle and getting paid!
Well, if we ask about what you like most, we’ve got to ask what you like the least.
“What I like the least about the job is developing such precious relationships and having to leave at the end of the contract. I also dislike seeing a person in charge making decisions for a facility that obviously doesn’t care about the people they serve.”
This is challenging for other travelers too. The best you can do is communicate with the team at the facility and with your Recruiter about what is happening.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a traveler?
“My advice is to take what I was told by an experienced traveling nurse, ‘Remember the same problems they have when you get there will be the same when you leave.’ That means do your job, don’t get caught up in the things you don’t control, and embrace your experience.”
We agree. Systemic changes are not going to happen in a 13-week contract so focus on what you can control like caring for patients the best you can, engaging in conversations when appropriate, and experiencing the culture and outdoors of where you are.
As an Indian Health Service (IHS) provider, what advice would you give someone about working for an IHS facility?
“My advice would be to someone thinking about working at an IHS Facility would be to, “Treat people the way you would like to be treated.” Take every opportunity to learn about the culture, talk to natives from different villages, enmesh yourself, then take all findings to help the people you work side by side, with and grow as an individual and a mental health professional.”
What do you enjoy outside of work?
“I have tried many delicious cuisines from the Native People, skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, Yup’ik Dancing, introduced to the Yugtun App, and spiritual blessings/cleansings outside of work.”
This is what we recommend for all our travelers! Enjoy where you work and get to know the people!
Anything else you’d like to share about your travel experience?
“In life, there are ups and downs but traveling throughout this pandemic has made me realize that the world does not end at my fingertips. There are so many people in need and if you’re passionate about what you do this is the job for you!”
Thank you, Nicky, for sharing your experience as a Licensed Professional Counselor. We appreciate you and all of our travelers.