Jovita Santoyo has wanted to try travel nursing since she first heard about it as a career option. What she didn’t expect was the COVID-19 pandemic to come along and give her the excuse she needed to get started.
Getting started in nursing
“I’ve been a nurse for two years now,” she says. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and I was able to do it later in life. I worked another job for a while and had a child — then I was finally able to get it done.”
For the first two years of nursing, Jovita only worked permanent positions. But she always knew she’d be a travel nurse, even going so far as to obtain a multi-state license when she graduated.
“I knew eventually one day, I would want to either move from Florida or dabble into travel nursing,” she says.
Traveling with an 11-year-old
One of the things that had been holding Jovita back was her concern about disrupting her son’s life, but COVID changed all that. “A year ago, he was absolutely against traveling with me, but since the pandemic forced him into online school, he realized he likes that better than going to an actual school, so it worked out,” she says.
Once he learned he could be in school wherever her assignment was, her son was completely on board. “He loves it,” Jovita says. “He’s in this stage right now where he doesn’t want to go back to ‘normal.’ I have to remind him that this isn’t permanent, we’re just visiting.”
Currently Jovita is on a 13-week assignment in Houston. When she’s not working, Jovita and her son enjoy exploring the city and eating in new restaurants. “There’s one park in particular, Buffalo Bayou Park, that has about a six-mile trail where we do some bike riding,” she says. “Next week we’ll be visiting San Antonio since I have four days off in a row.”
Helping where help is needed most
In Houston, Jovita has found herself in one of the hotbeds of the COVID-19 infections in Texas. Although the rate of coronavirus infections has dropped precipitously from the high of 17,820 on Sept. 22, Jovita still feels there’s a huge need for travel nurses to help out in hospitals that are overwhelmed with patients.
“If I can go somewhere and know that I’m helping another unit the same way travelers came in and helped at the hospitals I was working when we were overburdened and overworked, it’s a win-win situation all around,” Jovita says. “I feel that with COVID, in the midst of chaos and a lot of unfortunate deaths, it has opened up a world of opportunity that I would have never considered.”
Jovita says the urgency of COVID-19 was what gave her that extra push to try travel nursing.
“In the midst of all the chaos, I know that I’m a little bit more appreciated because they need us as travelers. We’re able to go to better nurse/patient ratios because now they have more nurses and they’re not overworking their own nurses.”
Taking the leap to travel nursing
When asked what she would say to a nurse who’s new to travel nursing or just thinking about it, she says, “Just go for it — because if you don’t do it now you’re going to put it off. You’ve just got to take the step. It literally is that one phone call. If you wait, it’s never going to be the right time. There’ll always be an excuse.”
Jovita says travel nursing can work for almost any nurse. “If you wait around for it, that desire is going to die out, and then you might never get a chance to do it. Then travel nursing will always be a, ‘what if’ in the back of your mind instead of, ‘that was a chapter that I was able to make a reality.’”