Amanda Sweitzer worked two years as a staff nurse and wanted something more. Since she began taking travel nursing jobs in 2014, the Pennsylvania native has already explored Maine, North Carolina, Maryland and Florida — and is the envy of all her friends.
“My nurse friends come visit me and say, ‘I want to do this’ — so I think I’m recruiting them,” Amanda says. ” My family doesn’t really understand traveling, so I tell them, ‘This is a really good experience. I’m learning way more than I could ever learn being stuck in one place.’”
Discovering your strengths
Through her travels, Amanda has also learned that she prefers working at small hospitals. She recalls a tiny facility in Maine with only 13 emergency room beds and 25 inpatient beds and a limited staff.
“At one time, there were two nurses, a doctor and a tech staffed in the ER. You could get anything that walked in the door, so you were forced to learn to work together and really get to know each other,” she says. “I like working in smaller hospitals because you get to form better relationships and you have, I feel, more solid teamwork.”
Treating patients from around the world
Even though she isn’t traveling internationally yet, Amanda says travel assignments allow you to meet people from all over the world as well.
“When you have a permanent position, you get to know basically the locals who keep coming in. When you travel, there are people from Europe, Asia and Africa,” Amanda expresses. “On my assignment in Florida, I’ve had a lot of international patients because the hospitals can’t care for the people on the islands.”
Becoming part of the team
The hardest part of travel nursing is packing up every 13 weeks and starting over, Amanda says, but it’s easier to make friends if you’re approachable. She recommends new travelers go into assignments with an open mind and ask for help when they need it.
“No nurse knows everything. As a traveler, you are more respected if you ask for help and ask questions, and people are more willing to help you,” Amanda says. “You have to prove to people that they can trust you and you know what you’re doing. Then you can work as a team rather than being the outsider.”
Comforting patients and changing their outlooks
As an ER nurse, Amanda says she sees people at the worst times of their life. Because of that, she makes a difference by talking them through what’s happening and reassuring them, even when she has to break bad news.
“I stayed with a woman in a terrible car accident through all her CAT scans, x-rays and tests, and she kept thanking me, saying, ‘I don’t know what I would have done had you just left me in this room by myself,'” Amanda recalls. “I saw such a huge turn in her whole outlook on what was happening to her. It went from the worst day of her life to ‘I can handle this. It’s going to be OK.’”
Amanda says she was lucky to find RNnetwork and that her recruiter, Alaina, makes everything happen when she decides on the next place she wants to travel to.
“[Alaina] is always available to me when I need her and finds the answer to my question if she doesn’t know it. She’s very approachable, and she cares about me,” Amanda says. “Everybody I’ve ever spoken to on the phone or in person has been so kind and helpful. I can trust them, and they just will go above and beyond to do anything for me.”