By Debra Wood, RN, contributor
Medical-surgical nurse Jennifer Metz, RN, caught the travel bug early, spending her childhood summer vacations camping or driving across the country with her adventurous dad. Now as an adult with grown children, she’s back on the road in search of an ideal place and for the perfect photograph.
“This is my time,” Metz said. “I’m young and healthy and want to enjoy everything.”
Metz began traveling with American Mobile Healthcare about five years ago and has accepted assignments in California, Florida, Hawaii and Arizona. She left behind everyone she knew and felt a bit of trepidation, which soon passed.
“I cannot imagine staying in one spot anymore,” Metz said. “I feel like I get restless—time to move to see [new places] and meet new people.”
Having spent 42 years living in a cold climate, Metz thought she’d begin looking for a warmer place to settle down, have a garden to tend to, but once on the road, moving around became appealing in its own right.
“After a couple of months in one spot, I feel the need to keep going,” Metz said. “I have become a wanderer. It fits.”
Metz totes a camera wherever she goes and has amassed a digital library containing thousands of images chronically her travels. A hiker, she seeks out beautiful parks and nature centers.
In Maui, she whale watched and drove around the island on a one-lane road with the ocean on one side and a mountain cliff on the other, just hoping another car would not appear.
“It was a beautiful ride,” Metz said.
Walking Florida’s beaches and watching the sunset was a favorite pastime while based in the Sunshine State. Between recent assignments she drove up California’s coast, taking in the breathtaking vistas. She eventually wants to tour the Eastern United States, eat lobsters in Maine and discover off-the-path lighthouses.
Metz enjoys being able to arrive at the hospital and care for her patients without becoming bogged down with hospital politics. She avoids critiquing hospital policies, embraces change and is warmly welcomed.
“As travel nurses, we have to be flexible and go with the flow,” Metz said. “There are different quirky things each place does.”
Although she makes friends easily, especially with other travelers, Metz is comfortable with her own company and will go out to dinner or sightseeing by herself, something that felt uncomfortable at first.
“I’ve changed a lot in five years, and it’s been a wonderful experience,” Metz said. “It’s amazing how you think in your 40s you know everything and life is on autopilot. It’s not. We change and grow.”
Metz keeps in touch with her family and friends she has made by cell phone and email. She plans to create a Web site, to make it easier to share her photos.
“The technology we have today has made this job so much better,” Metz said.
Her children and father have visited her while she was on assignment and she takes time between hospitals to return to Wisconsin. A part of her yearns to find the perfect place to settle down, but not yet.
“My goal is to find that person who will want to make me want to stay,” Metz said. “I hope someday I can find a place to call home again, but I don’t see it now. There are too many places I have [to visit] on my list.”
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