How I Became a Travel Nurse

becoming a travel nurse

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to work in the medical field. The thought of being able replace and repair the inner-workings of a human being has always been magical to me. Who wouldn’t want to learn how to use modern medicine to save someone from a horrible disease or accident that has ravaged their body? To me, it was a no-brainer. This revelation was the beginning of my life as a travel nurse.

Adolescent Mistakes

Unfortunately, my small mind didn’t understand how difficult it is to get into medical school. My parents told me that I could be anything that I wanted to be, and I believed them. I didn’t realize that meant that I had to start community service at age 10, a 4.0 GPA my entire school career. And a plethora of after school activities just to get into an Ivy League medical school. Yes, there are other medical schools, but you still have to get accepted.

Once I was halfway through high school and had skated by with a C my whole life, I realized that it wasn’t even worth trying. It’s not that I wasn’t smart enough. I just never did my work. I was angry at myself for not trying harder and angry at my teachers and parents for not explaining to me how college works. Everyone failed me, including myself, and I needed a new plan.

From Doctor to Nurse

When I realized that my chances of going to medical school were slim to none, I decided to apply to nursing school. I spent the second half of high school doing the best I could.  I applied to nursing school at the end of my senior year. It took some time to realize what kind of adventure I was getting myself into.

I thought I’d be a slave-worker at the local hospital, which was fine with me. Whatever I could do to get my hands dirty. What I didn’t know, was how to become a travel nurse, or even that travel nurses existed.

The Beginning of Travel Nursing

wandering nurses high paying jobsWhile I was in nursing school, I overheard a couple of the teachers talking about how they met when they were traveling nurses. At the risk of offending them with my eavesdropping, I approached the two women and asked them about it.

I asked how to become a travel nurse and they gave me all of the information I needed to start. As soon as I graduated and passed the test for my state license, I called around travel nursing companies and spoke to recruiters.

My First Mission as a Travel Nurse

I spent my entire life was in a small town in Michigan. I had never left the state before, so going somewhere completely different was important to me. It was important to pick an agency that had some amazing choices. They needed work in Hawaii, Florida, and California, among others. While I wanted to go to Florida and California, Hawaii was an obvious choice. I put the other two in my pocket for later and applied for the position.

I got a 20 week job in Hawaii. After I was approved, my plane ticket and my apartment in Hawaii were both all set up for me. My travel to Hawaii was early enough to take the test and become a licensed nurse in Hawaii. After I received my license, I sent a copy of it to my recruiter with my receipt from the cost of paying for it. My license was completely reimbursed.

While I waited for my job to start, I went to the ocean and laid on the beach. I only had a couple of days, but those couple of days were magical. After I started working at the hospital in Hawaii, it felt like home fairly quickly. I spent all my days off back at the beach and immersing myself in the local culture. As much as I wanted to stay, when my time was up, I knew I needed to go somewhere new. That’s why I found out how to become a travel nurse in the first place, right?

Dive in Head First

After my stay in Hawaii, I went to California and Florida. I also saw Washington State, Washington DC, Maine, North Carolina, New Mexico, and several other states. I saw amazing landmarks, discovered local treasures, and made some lifelong friends along the way.

If you want to learn how to be a travel nurse, contact travel nursing agencies and talk to recruiters right away. They will discuss your travel, pay, benefits, and answer any questions you have. Don’t pass up this opportunity to make lifelong memories.

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Cheryl Roby, RN

Cheryl J. Roby is a Registered Nurse and retired US Army Reserve Nurse Major. She has more than 30 years of nursing experience and 26 years of military experience in the Army Nurse Corp. During her nursing career, she has traveled as part of her military experience visiting many of the 50 states and to South Korea. She was trained as an Army Medic during the Vietnam era and later as an OR tec. She went on to become a Licensed Practical Nurse and then completed her nursing training as a Registered Nurse. She was then commissioned as an officer in the Army Reserves. She appreciated the challenge of working in various specialties and expanding her clinical and professional skill sets. Her time in the Army Reserves and California National Guard gave her the opportunity to travel to most of the 50 states and work in other medical facilities. During her career, she had the opportunity to work in several specialties to include, OR, Occupational Health, Hospice, Sexual Assault Team, Forensic/ Correctional Nurse, Nurse Case Manager for developmental disabilities, Parish Nursing as well as a Nurse Entrepreneur.

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