Interview With A Travel Nurse: What Was Your First Travel Assignment Like?
Travelnursing.org interviewed travel nurse Kyle Leffel, RN about his experience on his first travel assignment.
Would you do anything differently?
That’s a great question! I went into my first contract with big open arms. I wanted to experience everything travel nursing had to offer, but if I had to pick something I would say that I wish we would have stayed longer.
My wife and I were so eager to get out and travel to our next assignment, we were unable to stay and experience more of the state where we were staying.
I live in Indiana and my first contract was in Washington State. I don’t know when the next time I will be able to hike in all of those national parks again.
While I look at those beautiful pictures we took hiking along Mount Rainier, I often find myself wishing I would have accepted their offer to extend my contract for another three months.
Did you research the hospital and staff beforehand?
No not really. I did look up the hospital and the geographical location of it in relation to our apartment, but other than that I relied totally on what my recruiter relayed to me.
I do remember asking about the unit staff and their current dynamics during my interview with the unit manager, but I was more focused on the 30 + hour drive I had to do to get to our next stop.
How did you manage your finances during your first assignment?
My wife and I worked together. We knew that this adventure we were embarking on would require us to set a budget, and work together on it. So we set a monthly budget and did our best to stick to it. We knew how much to pay for bills and general expenses, but then we wanted to budget some splurge money so we could see all the sights and activities each location offered.
Travel nursing is like going on a giant long vacation. If you don’t budget your money, you will end up spending it all on eating out and on buying things. Trust me when I say this…BUDGET YOUR MONEY! Otherwise all that money you were excited about earning, just flew right out the window.
How much did you know about the place you were going to live beforehand?
I knew a lot. The company I was traveling with did an excellent job of providing me education on the location. They paid for all the utilities and everything in the housing unit was fully furnished. They emailed me maps and phone numbers for our temporary home.
They were very detailed with providing excellent travel nurse housing, and they even gave us information of all the local attractions surrounding the apartment.
Did you choose your housing or did the agency?
For my first assignment my company recommended that I let them place me because they didn’t want me to have to worry about setting everything up for my first time. They wanted my focus to be on my transportation to get there, and to enjoy the overall experience.
I am glad I listened to them because they were absolutely right. I had plenty of other things to worry about, and that was the last thing I wanted to have to set up.
Did you have any unexpected hiccups?
Actually, its funny you ask that because there was one hiccup — I guess that’s what you would call it.
My first contract was just a little south of Seattle, Washington. We arrived there late summer so after our long drive and from unpacking our car, we were a little hot and stuffy so we decided to turn on the air conditioner to our new apartment, in order to cool down. Well guess what? It didn’t have one. We searched our whole apartment trying to find the stupid thermostat!
Apparently, this is a common thing for the locals of Washington State.
They don’t usually need AC, they just open the windows and let the cool mountain breeze in. I grew up in a typical Midwest household with air conditioners. We don’t leave our windows open, unless you plan on getting robbed. So after our little culture shock we actually learned to embrace this, and really learned to enjoy it.
Were the people you worked with accepting?
Absolutely! The unit I was on actually used a lot of travel nurses before. So they were very accustomed to travelers, and accommodating to me.
I was surprised that even the physicians were used to having us. They would always go out of their way to get to know us, and welcome the opportunity to teach me new things.
What surprised you the most?
What surprised me the most was how easy it was to travel as a nurse. I was nervous and a little scared that I wouldn’t like it, but to my surprise, I actually really enjoyed my time traveling.
After a few weeks of getting my feet wet, I wished I would have started earlier. It really was everything that I was hoping it was going to be.
What went exactly as you thought it would?
That I would love it and I would cherish those moments with my wife forever.
To learn more about Kyle and his decision to become a travel nurse, check out A Journey into Travel Nursing.
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