By Claire Brocato, feature writer
Neil McCollum, RN, has two great passions in his life: nursing and
When this dedicated ICU nurse decided to compete in one of the world’s most
grueling sporting events, the Ironman Triathlon, he knew that his travel nursing
lifestyle would help him accomplish his lifelong dream.
McCollum started traveling with American Mobile Healthcare three
"At first I chose locations based on great outdoor lifestyles, like San Diego
and Albuquerque," he said, "but once I made the commitment to train for Ironman,
I decided to travel to places that would give me the best training
The winter before the Ironman competition, McCollum took an assignment in
"This was the perfect place to train during the winter months," he said. "I
got to run in the desert and cycle in the local mountains when I wasn’t working.
It was ideal, and I was really fortunate that I had the opportunity to train in
that kind of environment."
The Ironman Triathlon took place in Lake Placid, New York, a mountainous area
with more than a 7,000 foot elevation gain during the course of the race. In the
months leading up to the competition, he took an assignment in hilly Vermont to
acclimate to the terrain. During that phase of his training, approximately 20
hours of his week was split between biking, running or swimming, as well as an
additional few hours pumping iron at the gym.
McCollum’s months of intensive training paid off. He completed the 2.4-mile
swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26 mile run in just over 14 hours.
"It was such an incredible sense of achievement," he recalled. "Finishing the
race was my personal goal and I did it. It was the best feeling in the world."
With three years of travel nursing experience behind him, this adventurous
nurse is not ready to give up his travel lifestyle yet. "I would like to travel
for at least two more years," he said. "I’m very eager to explore the Pacific
Northwest–Portland and Seattle in particular."
Besides training in the best locations in the country and visiting some
fascinating cities, McCollum rates the friendships that he’s made along the way
as the highlights of his travels.
"I’ve met so many wonderful people–both patients and the people I’ve worked
with. I’ve made friends for life and met people I’ll never forget. And
throughout it all, my travel nursing agency has taken really good care of me."
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