By Debra Wood, RN, contributor
It’s not every day someone can fulfill a lifelong dream to take off for months and bicycle across the country. Limited vacation time typically stands in the way. Interventional radiology and critical care nurse Kevin Miller, RN, found a way to make it happen, taking his nursing skills on the road.
“Travel nursing gave me what I needed,” said Miller, 53. “The bike trip was a dream. I had wanted to do something like this for a long time.”
Miller signed on with leading staffing company American Mobile Healthcare, in July 2006, and headed for Washington State, where the bike event with a cycling association to which he belonged would commence. He accepted a couple of assignments as he prepared for the trek.
He and other members of the association biked 4,295 miles across the northern United States. They visited Glacier National Park, the Great Lakes, and the Erie Canal before ending the journey in Bar Harbor, Maine.
“I always wanted to do it. It was great,” Miller said.
Several riders called on Miller’s nursing skills to tend to scrapes and strains. On the first day, one of the riders fell and was injured. She returned to the trip, and Miller took out her sutures about five days later.
Miller spent a month in Florida, visiting family, before returning to Washington State for his next assignment. Although he was born in Washington and has a brother in Seattle, he grew up in Idaho and California. He wanted to become acquainted with the Pacific Northwest.
He served for three years in the Army, working as a corpsman and clinical specialist in Germany. Returning to the states, he lived in Florida for 30 years before becoming a traveler.
“I always loved traveling and was always looking for that little town to possibly settle in,” Miller said.
Licensed Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon, Miller plans to spend another year or more traveling in the Northwest. He is working on licensure in California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii to give him more options.
If the opportunity presented itself, Miller would prefer staying 26 weeks at one location, rather than the typical 13 weeks. He finds it takes a couple of weeks to become acclimated to the paperwork or computer system. But often hospitals bring in travelers to staff the interventional radiology suites while hiring permanent staff.
Doctors seem to like his easy-going personality and competence. Miller prides himself in staying calm during emergencies. He learns something new at each assignment, enhancing his professional skills, and shares his knowledge with the team.
“I’m seeing new ways of doing things at every job experience, and I’m hoping to continue this for a few more years,” Miller said. “Traveling has given me an opportunity to see how different hospitals approach problems. They all use nursing diagnosis, as we were taught in school, but they all have their own policies and procedures.”
When not assisting during radiological procedures, Miller enjoys hiking, snow skiing, cross-country skiing, kayaking, biking and rollerblading. He makes friends on assignment.
“I’m thoroughly enjoying it,” said Miller about travel nursing.
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