Traveler stories

Traveler Triumphs Over Adversity, Embraces Adventure

  • Print Page

By Claire Brocato, feature writer

From the country roads of South Carolina to the mountain peaks of Wyoming to the rain forests of the Virgin Islands, surgical technologist and Iron Man competitor, Eric Perron, has enhanced his career and honed his athletic skills through his countrywide travels.

A native of Vermont, Perron first considered the possibility of becoming a health care traveler while working at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vermont, where he came into contact with nurses, technologists and therapists who were pursuing travel careers.

“The great thing about Vermont is that it is so isolated. However, the bad thing about Vermont is that it is so isolated,” he laughed. “The more I heard about the travel lifestyle, the more it intrigued me. I did a lot of research on the Internet, spoke to many of the travelers at work and finally called Medical Express.”

Jackie Nelson at Medical Express has been Perron’s recruiter from his first assignment in November 2000.

“We have a wonderful rapport,” he said. “When I call Jackie, she instantly recognizes my voice. She’s the epitome of professionalism, but is personal and friendly and easy to talk to at the same time.”

Since hitting the road four years ago, Perron has traveled from north to south and coast to coast. From hiking the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, to indulging in fresh lobster in Maine, to snowshoeing in California, this adventurous go-getter has spent much of his spare time exploring the great outdoors at each of his assignment destinations, while simultaneously training for his annual participation in the Iron Man race.

“I always travel with all my sporting paraphernalia,” he said. “My skis, my snowshoes, my beach gear, my bicycles—they go everywhere I go. That way, I’m always ready for whatever nature has to offer.”

However, last year, while working in Palo Alto, California, Perron’s active lifestyle came to an abrupt halt when he seriously injured his back and had to undergo endoscopic surgery to repair two ruptured discs.

“It was a rough time for me,” he said. “Instead of reaching my peak fitness level for the Iron Man race, I was flat on my back, recovering from surgery. Fortunately, my managers at Stanford Hospital, where I was working at the time, were extremely accommodating, and I was able to take almost five months off work to fully recover.”

Perron spent the summer recuperating in Santa Barbara, California, under the watchful eye of a good friend. Although he couldn’t exercise, he kept himself busy by visiting a nearby nursing home on a regular basis, where he entertained the residents with his piano-playing skills.

“Running is my form of meditation,” he explained. “When I wasn’t able to run, I turned to music as a form of relaxation. It was great to be able to share my music with people who enjoyed listening to me.”

Once Perron felt strong enough to return to work, he chose an assignment in the Virgin Islands.

“The slower pace of life and the low-key work environment in the Virgin Islands made it a perfect place to ease back into my job,” he explained.
“Of course, there were the added benefits of being able to relax on deserted beaches, snorkel coral reefs and hike the rain forests.”

After several months in the tropics, Perron returned to Stanford Hospital, where he restarted his training regimen by running and biking in the Palo Alto foothills. He kicked his training into high gear when he took an assignment in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he spent the spring months training amid the peaks and canyons of the Grand Tetons.

In July 2004, Perron competed in the annual Iron Man triathlon (a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run) in Lake Placid, New York. He finished 122nd out of a field of 2,000 competitors—his best finish ever.

“Next year I hope to better my time by 10 or 15 minutes,” he said. “That should qualify me for the Iron Man world championships.”

In the meantime, Perron is enjoying another island assignment, this time in Hawaii.

“I love the variety that my travel lifestyle has afforded me,” he continued. “And, through it all, I’ve grown tremendously, both in my career and in my personal life. I’ve been given so many unique opportunities and for that I’m very thankful.”

© 2004. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

NurseZone brings you the personal stories of travel nurses across the country. Read their profiles, travel adventures and practical advice geared for nurses just like you.