By Debra Wood, RN, contributor
For the past 15 years, Madonna Quast, RN, has crisscrossed the country, from the California beaches to historic Boston, taking in the sights while en route from one hospital to the next and on assignment as a traveling perioperative nurse.
“I like the places I go to, the variety, and I like getting whatever time off I want,” said Quast, who travels with leading staffing company American Mobile Healthcare.
While researching a psychology paper as a student nurse, Quast read the travel nursing journal advertisements, and they enticed. She did and has been on the road ever since.
She typically stays six months in one location and then is ready to move on. That gives her time to settle in and to master that hospital’s specialty surgeries.
“When I accomplish that, it’s time to go,” she said. “You never get bored.”
Even with familiar procedures, Quast finds a learning curve exists. But the surgeons are quick to point out their preferences, and she soon discovers their idiosyncrasies.
“They are pretty easy-going and friendly,” she said. “I have never run into anyone who has been nasty.”
Quast travels from one assignment to the next with her mother. They plot out a route, pick up a AAA TourBook and see all of the tourist attractions along the way.
Now on assignment in Natick, Massachusetts, Quast has visited Plymouth Rock and a Shaker village. One of her favorite locations was Baton Rogue, Louisiana, her first assignment, because the people were so friendly.
“Each place has its own memory,” Quast said. “In California for the first time, it was all of the people and all of the traffic. And in the midst of that, the palm trees were so beautiful.”
In Florida, the locals warned her to stay away from the ponds during alligator mating season. She heeded the advice.
“In Alaska, at midnight driving on the road, the aurora borealis lit up the sky for seconds. I will never forget that,” she said.
Once on location, her mom may stay a week or so to see some more, scope out the location and help Quast settle in, then she heads home. American Mobile provides the apartment, and Quast brings her clothes and a few personal items to make it feel like home.
Quast drives the route to her new hospital a few times, to make sure she does not get lost, and locates the nearest grocery store and gym.
At the hospital, Quast makes friends easily. Overall, fellow nurses are happy to have an extra seasoned professional on their team. Quast often associates with other travelers and has found permanent staff openly invite her to their homes to relax or for holiday meals.
“It’s been fun and hard to walk away from,” Quast said. “Traveling is a nice way to see the country and to get a lot of experience.”
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