In Travel Assignments, Travel Nurse

We had the chance to chat with our colleague Lindsey about her travel nurse experience at the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. She was excited to share what she has learned, what she recommends for new travel nurses, and why she’s not ready to settle down yet.

After graduating from nursing school in 2014, Lindsey landed a travel nursing job in an endoscopy clinic and then in home healthcare. The latter position didn’t suit her so she spoke to our AB Staffing recruiter Kirsten who helped Lindsey find a 13-week travel nurse experience at the Navajo Nation that was extended for nearly two years.

How did you decide to work with AB Staffing at a Navajo Nation medical facility?

I kept getting a call from Kirsten, an AB Staffing recruiter about once a quarter. The hospice care then nursing jobs I was getting weren’t rewarding and I thought it would try travel nursing. It was a 13 week contract that I started in October 2016 on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. It was 34 hours of travel from my home in Maryland which I thought was well worth it to experience a different culture.

Did you work at a hospital at the Navajo Nation?

The facility was a combination of different medical facilities that, if you lived in a city, would be different offices. In one place we have an outpatient clinic, similar to a doctor’s office, urgent care, physical therapy, pharmacy, women’s health, pediatric clinic, med-surg, and in-patient OB/GYN clinic. Everything you’d need is in one location which is convenient for the community.

Your travel nurse assignment was just 13 weeks but you stayed for two years, how?

AB Staffing asked if I wanted a contract extension and I kept saying yes. After the first 13 weeks, I was really just getting up and running learning the computer system and meeting my co-workers and patients. Not only that but there is a big expense to moving across the country and I wasn’t ready to incur that again if I moved back after just a couple of months so I decided to stay. 

Being from the East coast, had you experienced Native American culture?

I don’t think I’d ever met anyone who is Native American, especially being from the east coast. It was amazing to serve a population that was in need of good nurses and I couldn’t leave after just a few months. I love the people and was pleased when they shared their culture with me. I was able to attend pow-wows, festivals, farmers markets, and craft fairs. I even learned some of their language, a language I didn’t even know existed until I got here. 

Where did your travel nurse experience take you?

Within a two hour drive, I was able to visit and hike in and around the states that make up the four corners – Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.

It was a new environment and culture and while she liked a lot about her two year travel nurse experience at the Navajo Nation but it wasn’t all good times.

Being from the East coast, I missed the green of the landscape. I learned to love the beauty of the desert, discovered the green beauty of Colorado, and am glad I got to meet the people who live here and get to know them.

Now that her assignment is complete, she isn’t quite ready to settle down on the East coast. At least for the short term, Lindsey is without a home and she’s just fine with that.

It’s an adventure and I am not ready to stop traveling yet.

Throughout the interview Lindsey gave us insight into considerations for becoming a travel nurse that included: 

  • Asking about a stipend for housing and/or if there is housing available on-site. For Lindsey, she had the option of staying in a dormitory with other medical professionals or finding her own housing. Because of her living situation with a roommate and pets, she opted to find her own place.
  • Clarifying with your recruiter how much leeway you have in choosing your next location. Lindsey noted this is especially important for nurses who need to get licensed in each state where they work. Each license is a different process and different cost so it is important to know for budgeting and moving cost purposes.
  • Keeping in mind the cost to move anywhere or, in her case, the cost to move back across the country.

Overall, Lindsey’s message was that while you might be working in a place that you’ve always wanted to visit, the reality is that you still need to learn to work with new people, learn new computer systems, and embrace the culture of the people you’re serving. If you’re missing home and not getting along with co-workers, it could make for a long assignment. Find ways to explore the area and attend events on your days off to make the most of your travel nurse experience.

If you’re ready to get started as a travel nurse or other medical professional, contact AB Staffing and check Current Openings.

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