By Susan Schneider, contributor
“I heard about travel nursing when I was in nursing school,” said Ivy Villanueva, RN, BSN. “I couldn’t wait to graduate and get the required experience as a staff nurse so I could join a travel nursing agency.”
Once she had the requisite experience under her belt, Villanueva, who specializes in pediatrics, sent her resume to a few agencies she had read about in trade journals.
The agency she signed up with five years ago, NursesRx, had a great advantage as far as Villanueva was concerned—a recruiter named Brooks Bower.
“I was so lucky to find Brooks,” said Villanueva. “She’s just wonderful. Even if NursesRx didn’t have the assignments I want, I would be loyal to them because of Brooks. She’s a great person and a great recruiter. Besides finding assignments she thinks I’d like, she helps solve any problems that arise on the road.”
Villanueva said that while that doesn’t happen very often, she does remember one time when she arrived at a new assignment and the apartment wasn’t up to what she knew were her agency’s standards. One phone call to Bower was all it took to rectify the situation.
“She had everything fixed right away,” said Villanueva. “I didn’t have to do a thing because she called the agency’s housing department for me and they got right on it. Brooks called more than once afterwards just to make sure I was completely satisfied. She’s just amazing.”
The assignments Bower tells Villanueva about usually involve a teaching hospital.
“I really like the teamwork at teaching facilities,” said Villanueva. “The docs are right there all the time and you get to work with interns and residents too. Plus, you have all the other team members like nutritionists, therapists … the whole medical team. I like being part of it and learning from everyone involved.”
Villanueva feels strongly that travel nursing provides continuous opportunities to broaden one’s clinical skills.
“As a traveler, you are exposed to many different ways to do things. I think it’s easy to get stuck in one way of doing things when you’re a staff nurse.”
Villanueva said that teaching hospitals are very welcoming to travelers.
“On my very first assignment, I was a little nervous,” she shared, “But then you become familiar with the orientation process and learn how to hit the ground running. The standard orientation includes two shifts with another nurse. If computerized charting is used, you are typically given an additional orientation session with a computer tech or the nurse in charge of computer training.”
Villanueva also said that the anxiety you feel on your first assignment disappears when you start meeting other travelers.
“It’s so easy to ease into your place on a team. Once you meet the other travelers, you all become like family.”
So far, Villanueva has selected assignments throughout California, a state she is partial to right now. She enjoyed all the activities San Diego, Los Angeles, Oakland and Palo Alto had to offer.
She has also lived in Seattle, Baltimore and Denver and has taken assignments in Boston to be near her family. She was just with them for Christmas.
“I enjoyed another travel perk,” said Villanueva. “I took a housing subsidy instead of renting an apartment because I wanted to stay with my parents. That financial boost let me actually save some money over the holidays.”
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