Travel Nurse Talk: Starting Nursing Later in Life and Traveling in an RV
Travel nurse Dee Fillingim was an engineer for years. But when her company closed, she decided to follow her dreams and become a nurse. Here, Dee talks about going to nursing school in her 50s, making friends on assignments, and travel nursing in an RV.
Make your desires a priority.
In the beginning, I thought, it’s just me, so why not start traveling? Why not see new places and meet new people?
I’m 61 years old and just started travel nursing. You’re never too old! I’ve only been a nurse for four years. Before this, I was a quality engineer, making light fixtures. They closed my plant, and I could either find another job or go back to school. And I thought I’ve always wanted to be a nurse. When I started looking, I quickly found a school. I had no medical background. I’ve always been healthy, never been in a hospital setting. So, it was daunting to go back to school and get a nursing degree, but it has been so worth it.
I see young kids, and they talk about how tough it is. They don’t know if they can make it, and I say, “I don’t want to hear it! If I can do it, you can do it!” The older you are, the more difficult it is to learn and remember things. I didn’t have any medical background, so it was all Greek to me, and here I am. Make up your mind that it’s what you want to do it, and just do it! Make your desires a priority.
It’s 13 weeks. I can stand on my head for 13 weeks, no problem.
My recruiter, Paige, has been really good about getting me assignments where I want to travel. And whenever I’ve had problems, she’s been ready to cancel my contracts and get me somewhere else ASAP. But I say, “It’s 13 weeks. I can stand on my head for 13 weeks, no problem.”
I pick up each hospital’s best policies, and I share them with my coworkers in all the hospitals I travel to.
As a travel nurse, I’ve been amazed at policy differences between hospitals. Some are strict and some are lenient. It’s been such an eye-opener to travel. When you’re a staff nurse, you can think that the way your hospital does something is the only way. But traveling, I pick up each hospital’s best policies, and I share them with my coworkers in all the hospitals I travel to.
I am constantly learning. I keep a notebook and write down everything I can, about codes for going into medicine rooms, the phone numbers for the pharmacy and the lab, steps for particular procedures — whatever I need. Whenever I go to a new place, I take that notebook. A lot of times, the things I need to learn will be very similar between hospitals, and I just compare them. At other times, I start a new page in my notebook about what is required.
As a Med/Surg nurse, I often have patients with similar diagnoses and demographics. I have a couple of brain sheets I keep with me that I always use now. Whenever doctors give me a report, I write down the information on my cheat sheet. If the patients ask me about something, I have the notes about which labs and which tests they are about to get done.
I am a people person — I love meeting people and being able to make new friends.
I am a people person — I love meeting people and being able to make new friends. I still stay in contact with a lot of people I’ve met on my travels, even a patient that I still email. He sends me pictures of his family and his new home. When he was in the hospital, he and his wife and I just seemed to click. If I had a few extra minutes, I would just go in and check on him and chat with him or with his wife. And if I hadn’t traveled, I never would’ve met him. It’s been a blessing.
Once, I was working with a patient who was shaking, he was so nervous. He was having surgery the next morning, and he was just scared to death. He had never been in the hospital before. I sat there and held his hand and talked to him for a little bit. Gradually, he calmed down and stopped shaking. He almost fell asleep while I was sitting there with him. When I walked out, he had tears in his eyes because I made him feel better. It’s nice to know that I’ve made an impact.
Travel nursing in an RV is a great way to maximize your travel nursing salary.
When I first started traveling, I was living out of a hotel. Then I bought a camper and started traveling out of it. I really enjoy it. Most of the campsites are really nice.
If any travel nurses are looking to travel in an RV, I would advise them to stick to the parks that cater to travelers instead of permanent residents. That’s a good question to ask before you stay at a place. The better parks tend to have more short-term people. And when you’re buying a camping or a motor home, invest in making sure it’s just how you want it to be.
Traveling by RV is a good way to save some money. The cost of a space is much less than the housing stipend. Plus, most good sites will provide electricity, water, and even internet. It’s a great way to maximize your travel nursing salary. And, if you want to be alone, you stay at your site. But if you want to interact with people, most travelers are eager to meet and talk with new people.
That’s how I decided to go with LiquidAgents. They always sent immediate responses and were always honest with me.
When I was just starting out in nursing after I graduated, LiquidAgents would contact me every six months or so to see if I was ready. Whenever I responded, LiquidAgents would always get right back to me. They’d answer my questions or respond to my comments, understanding that I wasn’t quite ready to start traveling yet. That’s how I decided to go with LiquidAgents. They always sent immediate responses and were always honest with me. To me, that showed that they cared about their people.
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