By Debra Wood, RN, contributor
Planning to begin master’s studies, yet unsure which tract to pursue, Yarah Garcia-Dieppa, RN, signed up as a travel nurse to explore professional opportunities.
“I wanted more experience and to broaden my horizons,” said Garcia-Dieppa, 29. “Travel nursing gives me insight into what else there is in nursing and will help me decide what I want to do my master’s on.”
Initially, Garcia-Dieppa planned to become a veterinarian or a physician, then switched to nursing, so she could more directly help people.
“I like the interaction with the patients, getting to know these different personalities, helping them out and making them better—just being there for them and listening,” she said. “Sometimes the littlest thing you do is the thing the patient most remembers.”
Garcia-Dieppa began traveling with American Mobile Healthcare in January, after working for 2.5 years on a medical-surgical floor at the VA Caribbean Healthcare System in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She would typically care for 15 or 16 med-surg patients, with about three on ventilators.
“I enjoyed the work. The VA gave me a lot of experience,” she said.
While weighing her choices about becoming a nurse anesthetist, nurse practitioner or midwife, Garcia-Dieppa has practiced on a telemetry-observation unit in New Port Richey, Florida, and on a neurology unit and at the trauma center at Shands at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she would like to complete her master’s degree. It has given her an opportunity to learn about the hospital’s rules and regulations.
Being fluent in Spanish gives her an advantage in caring for Florida’s large Hispanic population. She frequently translates for fellow nurses, sometimes stopping her own work to pitch in.
“If I don’t do it, who will do it? The patient will be the one who is going to suffer,” Garcia-Dieppa said. “As nurses, we are patient advocates. If you are not there for them, what can you do. I don’t mind taking my time translating.”
Garcia-Dieppa likes working in assorted facilities, and learning the various documentation system and policies.
“It’s a good experience,” she said. “You learn something in every different hospital.”
Although picking up on the policies can be challenging, she quickly catches on and finds it easy to blend in.
“My personality helps,” she said. “I am open to everything and enjoy meeting new people. They make me feel at home.”
At one assignment, travelers comprised nearly all of the staff. Garcia-Dieppa said the nurses became like family, and they keep in touch.
While in Florida, she has gone to the beach, visited museums and traveled to Orlando to visit with family.
Garcia-Dieppa signed on for another three months in Gainesville. But she is planning to request assignments in Colorado and Alaska, the latter so she can explore the wilderness, whale watch and meet an Eskimo.
“It’s part of the travel experience. Why stay in Florida when you can give it your all and see a different culture,” she said.
Traveling allows her to discover communities’ hidden treasures.
“Eventually, it will help you decide where to plant roots and start a new life,” Garcia-Dieppa says.
Garcia-Dieppa and her dog expect to travel for at least two years before settling down.
“I love my work,” Garcia-Dieppa said. “I enjoy it every day.”
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