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Interview with the Gypsy Nurse, RN and 20 Year Healthcare Veteran

A travel nursing educator, Candy, a.k.a Gypsy Nurse, RN has worked in healthcare for nearly 20 years, working up the ranks from CNA to LPN to RN. For the past ten years, she’s worked as a travel nurse, allowing her to practice and live in 15 states throughout the U.S. She regularly shares advice for those interested in travel nurse jobs on her website at Gypsy Nurse.

What event or series of events led you to pursue nursing as a professional choice?

Nurse GypsyI was working for a local podiatrist as a receptionist and lost my position. As a divorced mother of two and facing unemployment, I was distraught. A very good friend suggested nursing as a fairly quick way to an education and a career with good job stability. I had previously considered working in the healthcare field but had pushed it aside time and time again. At this point I decided it was time to pursue it. I worked with the local job training program and became an LPN. Nursing for me wasn’t an altruistic choice, instead it was a calculated decision based on job availability, pay and educational requirements.

Name 1 or 2 specific challenges you have faced in your career in nursing and the steps you took to overcome them?

The challenges as a travel nurse are very different than the challenges of most nurses. We have to overcome things like learning how to negotiate contracts, acclimating to a new hospital/facility every 13 weeks, leaving family and friends behind, and many other challenges. I have discussed many of these challenges via thegypsynurse.com in the past.

At one hospital I recently worked at; the night shift Hospitalist had given strict “orders” to NOT be notified via text, pager or phone. We (the staff nurses) were told to write our requests down on a sheet of paper at the nurses station and he would address them during his rounds which were done at 9pm, 12am, 3am, and 6am. I personally thought that this was a totally crazy and potentially unsafe procedure. I once disregarded his orders due to a patient experiencing a potential blood transfusion reaction (as per the standard protocol orders) and thoroughly got my @$$ chewed. Being an experienced RN, this didn’t phase me much and if the situation arose again, I would have notified him again – regardless of the consequences. This experience did leave me concerned about the “New” nurse and how he/she might have handled this situation or a potentially more threatening situation: Call the Dr and reap the repercussions or put the concern on a note and hope the patient survives until the Dr rounds?

Can you describe what a typical day looks like for you or the activities you spend the most time on at work?

When I am working on contract, I work on a Medical or Surgical floor. Being a floor nurse is pretty standard from place to place; I utilize the nursing process on a daily basis Assessment, Diagnosis, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation are key ingredients to get me through a workday.

These are the same steps that I recommend for a new Travel Nurse in my Step by Step plan to Travel Nursing. As a travel nurse, it truly depends on if I am on contract and where I am in the contract. Much of my time is spent looking for another position or acclimating to the new position or evaluating if I want to extend a current position. I network with other travelers, recruiters and staffing agencies nearly daily seeking out the perfect contract.

What aspects of your work do you enjoy the most?

The flexibility in my job as a travel nurse allows me to meet nurses all over the nation and develop professional networks that span the country. In addition, as a travel nurse educator, I love being able to consult with other nurses and help provide them the resources that they need to become successful as a travel nurse.

What advice would you give to new graduates for getting hired after graduation?

With the current lack of new graduate positions in some areas of the country, my first recommendation to new grads would be to look “outside” the box. I wrote a recent article addressing this issue.

If you are considering a future career in travel nursing, there are several steps that you can take now to prepare yourself: Travel Nursing Tips for New Grads

What is the key strength you bring to your career and how would you advise new graduates to mine their own strengths to further their careers?

I believe that the two key strengths that I bring to my career are determination and self-assuredness. As a new graduate, I would encourage you to know your personal strengths, stand behind what you “know” is right and ask questions when you need additional guidance. I’ve been a nurse for nearly 15 years and I still find that I rely on the expertise of my co-workers on a daily basis. No one nurse is an expert at everything. Never be afraid to ask questions.

We’d like to thank the Gypsy Nurse for being so generous with her time and sharing her insights and advice with our readers. You can learn more about her exciting profession at her blog, The Gypsy Nurse.