Sarah Jividen BSN, RN
Sarah Jividen BSN, RN
April 12, 2023 - 8 min read

Interview with Brandy Pinkerton, winner of NORG Most Inspirational Nurse

Travel nursing is an exciting and rewarding career path that involves working as a registered nurse on a temporary basis, typically for a period of 13 weeks or more, in various healthcare facilities across the country.

As a travel nurse, you have the opportunity to work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities, in different states or even different parts of the world. These opportunities provide travel nurses with diverse and invaluable learning experiences in various specialties and work environments while exploring new places and meeting new people.

Benefits of travel nursing include the flexibility to choose assignments based on your interests, higher salaries and other financial perks, and providing high-quality patient care in communities across the globe.

For this article, we interviewed seasoned travel nurse Brandy Pinkerton (@thetravelnursementor), the 2023 winner of the Nurse.Org Most Inspirational Nurse Award.

Looking for travel nurse assignments in your area? Speak with a recruiter today!

Brandy Pinkerton, travel nurse mentor

Who is Brandy Pinkerton?

Brandy Pinkerton is a seasoned RN with a diverse and exciting career as a travel nurse. Her peers describe her as an “inspiration to all, especially new travel nurses,” and someone who “truly nurtures new and even veteran travel nurses with her wisdom.”

Brandy was voted the 2023 Nurse ICON Award winner for Most Inspirational Nurse by her peers.

For the first ten years of Brandy’s career, she worked as a NICU and PICU nurse and then switched to a critical care float pool role at a children’s hospital in her home state of Texas. This opportunity gave Brandy the experience she needed to float to different units, including cardiovascular, hematology, oncology, and many others. After five years in this float position, Brandy says she applied to become a flight nurse – her dream job – but unfortunately was turned down for the role. Undeterred, she pursued travel nursing, allowing her to travel to states across the nation, including Colorado, Florida, South Carolina, Nevada, and Montana.

Brandy Pinkerton

Brandy emphasizes that her travel nursing experience helped her grow and maximize her skill set and confidence. When the pandemic hit, she transitioned back to a hospital where she previously worked as a travel nurse, reapplied for a flight nurse position, and landed the job!

After a year and a half of flight, Brandy transitioned to a new role as an educator for new travel nurses, which she now does full-time while still picking up occasional assignments to maintain her skills. She is finishing a contract at her home hospital in Texas and plans to work remotely from Montana during the summer.

We interviewed Brandy to learn more about her and her exciting career in the nursing profession, and it is clear that she truly deserves the title “Most Inspirational Nurse.” Here is what she had to say.

Why did you begin travel nursing?
I always knew that I wanted to be a travel nurse since starting nursing, but I was a single, teen mom and had to wait until my son went off to college. The year he went off to Texas A&M, which was also my 15th year of being a bedside nurse, my burnout was at an all-time high and I was feeling very stagnant and needed a change, so it was the perfect opportunity for me to embark on a new adventure.

What is your favorite thing about travel nursing?
My favorite part is getting to “Travel with a Purpose.” I get to see new places and have new adventures all over the US while also getting to take great care of my patients. I have met so many amazing people all over and have grown my connections and network so much. I have had experiences that I will forever be grateful for, and you cannot put a monetary value on that. You also get to grow your resume and “try on” different facilities.

There are ebbs and flows and ups and downs like anything. The market is constantly changing so you need to make sure you understand that. The days of those 10k-a-week pay packages, as we saw during the pandemic, are long gone and the market is starting to normalize again. The demand is also down a bit but I think we will see it go back up.

Why do or don’t you think travel nursing is better than staff nursing?
I think there is a season for everything, and travel nursing may not fit everyone’s lifestyle – so I don’t think there is a wrong or right answer here. Personally, if you have an adventurous/wandering heart and the idea of travel nursing fits your lifestyle, I say to go for it! You will always wonder “what if” if you don’t give it a try. I will say never to burn a bridge with your staff job, though, so make sure to follow the proper etiquette when cutting ties because you may want to go back one day.

What has been the greatest challenge of travel nursing?
The greatest challenge is some of the uncertainty and unknowns that come along with travel nursing. You have to have a very “go with the flow” attitude to be successful. Make sure you have a decent savings account built up BEFORE starting travel nursing and always have a plan A, B, and C.

What surprised you the most about travel nursing?
How much it changed my life for the better. It gave me a whole new mindset and renewed my passion for being a bedside nurse again. It teaches you just how capable you are when you travel alone. I knew I was going to love it but had no idea just how much. The unknown is scary but it was absolutely the best decision I could have made for myself. It also set me up for flight nursing and gave me the confidence boost I needed to be successful in that role too.

Brandy Pinkerton, flight nurse

What does this award mean to you?
I never in a million years would have thought that – not only would I have been nominated by my peers for this award – but when I found out I won, I absolutely could not believe it. No words can even express the gratitude that I have for being selected.

What do you want all future nurses to know about pursuing travel nursing?
There are ebbs and flows and ups and downs like anything. The market is constantly changing so you need to make sure you understand that. The days of those 10k-a-week pay packages, as we saw during the pandemic, are long gone and the market is starting to normalize again. The demand is also down a bit but I think we will see it go back up.

To be successful, you have to have a flexible mindset in all aspects and make sure you know your negotiables and non-negotiables. But the more picky you are, the harder time you will have finding a job right now. It is also highly competitive. Some of the places that I least expected to love so much ended up being my favorite, so be open to your locations!

Brandy Pinkerton, flight nurse

What do you wish you could tell your younger self about your nursing journey?
I would tell myself to prioritize myself, my mental health, and my family first. It is ok to say NO to working extra, especially if you plan to be in this profession for the long haul. You need to plan fun things and do self-care on your off days, and give yourself something to look forward to. Write down your “why” and your goals, and keep them close to your heart because it is so easy to lose sight of those things when times get tough. Also, life is too short not to be happy, so if you aren’t happy in a certain specialty, one of the greatest things about nursing is you can switch specialties and find something that is a better fit for you.

Speak with a recruiter about available travel nursing assignments in your area!

So What’s Next?

Along her journey, Brandy discovered she had a talent for mentoring other nurses and helping them achieve their career goals. Her travel company approached her to take on a new role as an educator, and she was thrilled to accept the opportunity. This role was a natural next step, as she had already been mentoring nurses on their career journeys.

She has since built her own brand, Travel Nurse 101, which provides education and resources for nurses interested in travel nursing. Brandy also has a solid social media presence where she inspires other nurses to step out of their comfort zones and reach their nursing career goals. Although she couldn’t be more excited about this new career phase, Brandy says creating a brand involves “a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.”

Brandy Pinkerton

Brandy’s story of nurse-turned-traveler-turned-educator is genuinely inspiring, and we could feel her excitement and passion throughout our interview with her. For more information about Brandy, you can check out her Travel Nurse 101 website or follow her on Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok.

Inspirational Nurse FAQ

What are the qualities of a good nurse?

There are several qualities that are important to be a good nurse. These qualities include:
– Empathy and compassion
– Excellent communication skills
– Attention to detail
– Great ethics
– Good physical and mental stamina
– Excellent critical thinking skills
– The ability to adapt to difficult situations

How can I improve myself as a nurse?

There are so many ways to improve and enhance your knowledge and skill set as a nurse! These ways include taking continuing education courses to stay up-to-date with nursing skills and knowledge, joining professional nursing organizations to gain helpful insights into the profession, and pursuing certifications in your specialty. It is also essential to take good self-care as a nurse by getting enough shut-eye, eating a nutrient-dense diet, and practicing yoga or meditation.

What are the 6 Cs of nursing?

The 6 C’s of nursing are care, compassion, competence, communication, courage, and commitment. These values are essential to providing the highest-quality patient care.

Why is being a good nurse important?

Being a good nurse is important for the overall well-being and optimal care of patients. Good nursing improves patient outcomes, improves patient satisfaction, allows for effective teamwork, and enhances the reputation of the nursing profession. Also, being a good nurse is personally and professionally rewarding and allows nurses to make a meaningful difference in their patients’ lives.

What does it take to be a good travel nurse?

Travel nurses must possess several essential qualities including adaptability and flexibility, great communication skills, clinical competency, independence, and a positive attitude.

Is travel nursing worth it?

If you enjoy traveling, meeting new people, and working in new healthcare environments, then travel nursing may be an excellent career for you! There are many benefits to travel nursing, including increased pay, adventure and exploration in new locations, and learning opportunities that allow you to improve your skillset and knowledge. However, it is also important to understand that travel nurses may be away from family and friends for long periods and must frequently adapt to new work environments.

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