By Debra Wood, RN, contributor
When Jay Hall, RN, began traveling six years ago, he never expected it would change his life and introduce him to the Middle Ages.
“Traveling gives you the chance to meet new people,” says Hall, who travels with staffing company American Mobile Healthcare.
Through friends Hall made at his first assignment in Ocala, Florida, he became active in the Society for Creative Anachronism, an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts, skills and battles of pre-17th century Europe.
“I started going to meetings and found I like it,” Hall said. “We go to a lot of events. The good thing about being a traveler and doing contracts is you can set up dates you want off and have that written in.”
Hall has made armor, fighter clothing and other garb. Some members spin yard and make their own material, but Hall uses modern fabric.
He and his buddies practice weekly, prepping for battle and preparing victorious strategies. Members meticulously research customs, garb and other facts about the Middle Ages.
“The people who usually are members have a strict code of conduct, based on chivalry, treating people like they ought to be treated,” Hall said.
During battle, the men use rattan rather than steel swords, increasing the safety factor. Still people can be injured as in any other contact sport.
“It’s fun for me,” Hall said. “It also causes you to have a whole lot of friendships. You learn that if you’re going to win the battles, you have to work with the people there with you.”
Hall describes his relationship with members of the society like family. He connects with them almost daily. He knows what is happening in their lives and he in theirs.
“If one of your friends has a problem, the majority of the time, the rest of the group helps him get through it,” Hall said. “It’s extremely nice to know you have that family there.”
Hall began his travel career as a critical-care nurse, but wanted to give emergency nursing a try. He stopped traveling for a year to gain experience in the ED and signed back up.
His first assignment took him to Florida and he stayed on. He sticks fairly close to his Gainesville, Florida, home, working a few days at the assigned hospital, then driving back.
“I like it here, and all my friends are here now and my family,” Hall said.
Although he enjoys most of his assignments, he knows if he starts working at a place that doesn’t go as smoothly as most, he is only there for a short time. On the other hand, if he likes it, he usually can stay on for a second 13 weeks.
“Most of the time I do well meeting friends,” Hall said. “I look for the best in whatever situation I am in, and it that works very well.”
Hall plans to keep traveling, soaking up opportunities to try new places and meet more people. He also would like to return to school. He would recommend travel nursing to other health professionals.
“If you decide you want to travel, you have to decide you have to be where you are at,” he advises. “You have to be able to work with the situations you have to work with.”
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