Chris Hegglund lives the life he wants as a travel nurse. You’re equally likely to catch him on the hospital floor as a medical surgery and telemetry specialist, at a local taco truck, or in his shaved ice truck helping keep Arizona cool.
Chris started travel nursing five years ago, when he was in the middle of a freezing Wyoming winter. At that hospital, he met a travel nurse. After learning more, he realized that with the travel nursing lifestyle, he could set his own schedule, make more money, and choose where he spends the winter (and spring, summer and fall!).
Working as a travel nurse
The travel nursing lifestyle is great because it gives nurses a chance to explore new areas, but Chris has also found benefits while he’s on the clock too. He said that travel nurses are often held in a higher regard because coworkers know that traveling brings lots of experience. Coworkers are interested in his experience, plus it gives him something to talk to patients about.
Chris usually takes assignments that last from three to six months, although he once had an assignment last a full year. He likes that this gives him the opportunity to get to know the people he likes while still being able to leave behind the people he isn’t as fond of.
Searching for the perfect taco
Considering Chris wanted to be a travel nurse to get away from the cold, it’s no surprise that when he was assigned to a hospital in Arizona, he decided to stick around. Most of his travel nursing jobs have been in Arizona with a few trips to Kansas and Wyoming.
“I’ve fallen in love with Arizona because it has so much to offer that I like,” says Chris. “There’s a diverse mix of cultures.”
When Chris first moved to Arizona, he fell in love with tacos because there’s practically a taco stand or truck on every corner. Now his friends know that for Chris, every Tuesday is Taco Tuesday, and every Friday is the day for fish tacos.
He has visited at least 30 taco trucks, and according to Chris “the dirtier the truck, the better the food.”
Keeping Arizona cool
While Arizona is the perfect temperate in the winter, it can get gruelingly hot in the summer. So, Chris brought some of Wyoming’s cold with him by opening up a shaved ice truck called Tiki Time. Chris takes a break from nursing over the summer to sell shaved ice — primarily at school events.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do that without a job like my travel nursing job. It allowed me to have enough money to invest in my shaved ice truck and take a little time off and recoup,” says Chris.
One of his favorite moments was at a school event with a bounce house, shaved ice, and about 300 happy kids. After he was done selling shaved ice, he shaved extra ice to make snow. Then the kids had a snowball fight in the Arizona heat. “Most of them have never played in snow before, and here we are in the desert having an epic snowball fight. It was so awesome!”
When Chris takes time off to focus on something outside of nursing, it helps him avoid burnout. In fact, he said that after his break he feels fully recharged, and his ability to take care of patients improves.
Bonding with his recruiter
When Chris decided to look into travel nursing, he did initial research to look at his options. When he called RNnetwork, he met his recruiter, Rachel, and has been with RNnetwork ever since.
Chris appreciates that Rachel and RNnetwork take care of the details of his travel nursing, from lining up assignments to arranging housing and paperwork. Plus, Rachel is there for Chris on stressful days.
“Whether I’m having a good day or a bad day, I know I can call Rachel and she’ll cheer me on or let me lean on her shoulder for a minute,” says Chris. “I’ve only met her twice in person, but there’s no other person that I know better for having only met twice.”
Chris’s advice for travel nurses is to be adaptable and flexible so that you’re open to new experiences like tacos in Arizona. Plus, travelers should find a company that represents them well.