Travel Nurse Talk: Sydney Bailey on Learning on the Job, Being Resourceful, and Creating a Travel Nursing Family
We caught up with a few LiquidAgents Healthcare travel nurses to discuss the benefits and challenges of this unique job. Here, Sydney Bailey tells us her favorite parts of the job, the biggest challenges, and tips to make it through your assignment.
“Travel nursing is a fast-track way to get into some of the best hospitals.”
When I first became a nurse, it was difficult to get a permanent job. This is still true — if you try to get a permanent position somewhere, you could be waiting 3-4 months to get into some hospitals, especially if you want to work somewhere with a great reputation.
Travel nursing is a fast-track way to get into some of the best hospitals. And, as a perk, if you don’t like what you find when you travel there, you’re not stuck. What’s more, a lot of hospitals are really eager for great nurses and are willing to put time and energy into training you.
“I’ve had so many experiences I wouldn’t have had as a permanent nurse, both in the hospital and on the road.”
Even though most of my experience was in orthopedics when I started traveling, I’ve worked in med-surg, oncology, pediatrics, short-term surgery, and a bone marrow transplant unit. Supervisors and other nurses at many hospitals I’ve traveled to were willing to teach me in exchange for having an extra pair of skilled hands available. It’s really pushed me to grow professionally.
My very first travel contract, they floated me to the ICU. They taught me how to extubate and how to recover open heart surgery patients. It was a more powerful learning opportunity than nursing school. I’ve had so many experiences I wouldn’t have had as a permanent nurse, both in the hospital and on the road.
“When you can stay in one place longer, you really get to know the area and it starts to feel a little like a second home.”
California has been my favorite place to travel so far. I’ve been to the Bay area and northern California. I did a year in San Diego — it’s so beautiful. I felt lucky to be there, and it was nice to stay there on an extended contract. When you can stay in one place longer, you really get to know the area and it starts to feel a little like a second home.
“As a travel nurse, you have to learn to be very resourceful.”
When you are a travel nurse, even when you may get a lot of on-the-job training in specific areas, a hospital may not always be thorough in teaching you policies, charting, and other essentials. You’re often just thrown into the bustle of things.
So, as a travel nurse, you have to learn to be very resourceful. You can’t be afraid to ask questions or admit that you don’t know something. If you don’t know what you’re doing and no one is helping you, you have to figure things out the best you can based on your previous training and travel experience.
“Travelers become a little family of their own and they really rely on each other.”
Part of being resourceful is relying on other people. Travelers lean on other travelers. We know what it’s like to first enter a hospital, look for housing, or be far away from home. We know what it’s like to be in a hospital that isn’t that friendly to travelers or to end up in a tougher assignment. So, travelers become a little family of their own and they really rely on each other.
That’s part of why it’s important to be outgoing when you’re traveling — it’s how you meet the people who may become part of your travel family. I don’t network at all — I’m just outgoing and friendly when I’m on the floor, and I tend to meet people in each assignment.
“You have to be as willing to ask for help as you are to give it.”
Many people say that nursing is the same everywhere, but it’s really not. When you’re a travel nurse, you learn that each hospital system is unique. There are different charting systems, different equipment, different policies — you name it.
So, it’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses as you move into different environments. And, you have to be as willing to ask for help as you are to give it. If you’re open, resourceful, and receptive, you’ll be really successful.
“With LiquidAgents Healthcare, you aren’t just a number, you’re a person. They really care about you.”
My agency has been a big part of my success, too. With LiquidAgents Healthcare, I feel like I’m working for my friends and family. They are really good to me — they always honor my requests and never push me to take any assignments that wouldn’t be good for me.
They don’t just throw you into an assignment and check in 13 weeks later. My recruiter Jayson calls or texts at least once a week to check in and make sure I’m happy — not just in terms of my assignment — he wants to know that I’m thriving. And when my last recruiter, Scott, came out to Phoenix to visit family, he took me and all of his other travelers out to dinner.
With LiquidAgents Healthcare, you aren’t just a number, you’re a person. They really care about you.
Want to hear more about the life of a traveler? Check out our entire interview series.