Traveler stories

Traveler Trades in Restaurant Job for Nursing Career

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By Julie Benn, NurseZone contributor

Years ago he spent his days (and nights) as a restaurant manager before throwing in the towel and taking on a career that would open up a whole new world for him. Today, Brian Becker is a travel nurse.

Becker, 35, RN, BSN, went back to school after his first career left him feeling unsatisfied with the pay, the hours and the headaches of restaurant management. Nursing was a field that he had thought about in high school, so after leaving the food service industry, he went to college at Kennesaw State near Atlanta, Georgia to pursue nursing.

“The jump from restaurant management to nursing was actually not that hard. They both require a certain amount of PR, dealing with people and meeting their needs,” he said. “As a restaurant manager, you only seem to deal with unhappy people; as a nurse, people—the patients—really appreciate you and what you’re doing to help them.”

He began his nursing career in a cardiac step-down unit. His specialty is “close to home” for him as he described his family’s history of cardiac problems. He also said that even though the work he does is specialized, he still gets to do a bit of everything. “This unit is really a good starting point for a nursing career. It is very challenging. Time management skills are important, you must stay on your toes.”

He describes the tone of his specialty, and of nursing in general, as that of “morbid excitability. Nurses tend to want to be involved in the worst of the worst medical situations. It is this sense of morbid excitability that keeps us going.”

Another part of that excitability is getting to know patients and work with them towards their recovery. Brian described a patient who had a heart and lung transplant and was in the hospital two months longer than was expected. The hospital Brian was at allowed nurses to pick a patient and get to take care of them every time they worked. He chose this very sick patient and worked hard to help him rehabilitate. As he did, the patient was so appreciative of his efforts and they really worked as a team towards recovery.

Brian said that after the patient was released, he came back to the unit one day, looking for him to say hello and show him how healthy he had become. “So many times we get curious about patients and how they are doing, but usually they go out the door and we never hear from them again. It’s very special when a patient comes back and looks for you. It really makes it all worth it.”

Brian also feels that making his career mobile is another aspect that makes nursing worthwhile. He joined American Mobile Healthcare and embarked on a job-in-motion more than four years ago. Brian first traveled to San Diego, having friends who lived in the area. In fact, that’s what he has experienced in just about all the places he has traveled for work—there are always friends around to keep him company in his new destinations.

One such friend happens to be his now-girlfriend whom he met while on assignment in Philadelphia. She is also a nurse and they have been traveling together for a year. During his time off, he enjoys golfing, reading, skiing, hiking and checking out his new surroundings with her. Another passion of Brian’s is flying. He got his pilot’s license last summer and has enjoyed taking to the skies often.

As for his advice to those considering nursing or travel nursing, he simply said, “Do both!”

© 2005. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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