Home health nurses William and April Cantwell never expected to have a travel nursing romance. But when William got a travel nurse job in Arkansas, where April was working as a full-time nurse, that’s precisely what happened. Now they’re married and travel nursing together along with their baby boy, Bradley.
From coworkers to co-travelers
Before travel nursing, William had been a nurse for about a decade. He also worked as a high school football coach. When his home health company hired another full-time nurse, he reduced his hours to focus on coaching. It also gave him a chance to reflect on what he really wanted in his career.
“I’ve always wanted to travel across the country. I had been a nurse for a long time, and the opportunity presented itself to look into traveling,” William says. “I was p.r.n. with my home health company, so I said now is the time to give it a shot. And that’s what I did.”
When he arrived in Harrison, Arkansas, he met April at his travel nursing job in home health. April had recently become a registered nurse after working as a CNA for about 20 years. April and William had desks that faced each other, so they started talking about work and life in general.
One day, another coworker told April, “He’s into you.”
“I just kind of blew it off, ‘No, he’s not,’” April shares. “And she’s like, ‘I see how he looks at you.’”
Then William invited April to use his apartment’s gym and “that’s where it all began.”
A package deal
April and William decided to pursue their travel nurse romance and travel together when William’s contract in Arkansas ended.
“It was one of those things that just happened,” said April. “You could say that it was meant to be. I was ready for another chapter in my life, and he didn’t have to twist my arm very hard to convince me to come with him.”
Their first assignment together was in Columbia, Mississippi. Then, they went to Albuquerque, New Mexico, followed by Great Bend, Kansas, and a return to Arkansas — this time to Little Rock. They’re currently in Branson, Missouri. They love Branson because they’re close to family, and their workplace loves them.
They only take jobs together. William says, “When we started traveling, we explained to our recruiter that we only want to go to places that need at least two nurses. Everywhere we’ve gone was with the understanding that it’s a package deal. You don’t get me without her, and you don’t get her without me.”
With the birth of their son, Bradley, April and William’s family has grown. They recently bought a brand-new 5th wheel trailer that lets them take home wherever they go. They also still have a house in William’s hometown, Oklahoma City. They have been able to work while their son is in daycare, but their jobs also understand the flexibility that new parents need.
“We’ve been really lucky as far as the way everybody has treated us. Most everybody has been very thankful that we’re there to help. So if Bradley gets sick or has to stay home from daycare for a day for whatever reason, they’re super understanding about it,” says William.
William and April plan to travel nurse for at least four more years. April grew up and worked in Arkansas, and she had never been west of Oklahoma. So, her travel nurse romance has shown her all sorts of new sites.
“I enjoy seeing new places and cultures,” April says. “When you grow up in a small town in Arkansas, it’s pretty neat to see different parts of the world.” They saw the Grand Canyon in the fall, and they’re taking a trip to Disney World this summer. They also took a weekend trip to New Orleans during their Columbia assignment.
When he first started travel nursing, William’s family was concerned that he wouldn’t be around much. But William explained to them that he didn’t want his career to stagnate. “I used to be a dialysis nurse, and I couldn’t do it. It was the same thing every day, same faces, same everything, and to me, that’s terrible. So, home health and travel fulfills that need for new experiences in new places but still with what I love to do,” said William.
Not just romance and adventure
William and April never expected to meet the love of their life because of travel nursing, but they’re now the perfect example of a travel nurse romance. However, they make it clear that travel nursing isn’t all romance and adventure. “You have to understand that these places need your help, so you’re going to be busy working,” said William.
April emphasizes, though, that a huge benefit of travel nursing is the fact that you’re not locked into a job for longer than a few months. She explains, “Some places are easier than others to work for, just like any job. Luckily, you can do anything for 13 weeks.”