Bryan Flake had been working as a NICU nurse in Roanoke, Va., when his hospital had a drop in census. Forced to look for a new position, he turned to travel nursing jobs — but he was unsure if he could make the dream a reality.
Taking a chance on a new opportunity
“With a wife and three kids and pets, I didn’t think I would be able to travel at all. I had only been a nurse for a year when I started applying to different companies,” Bryan recalls. “Luckily, I was paired with Chris at RNnetwork, who takes the time to work with me and for me. I’ve never met a company that backs and supports its family like RNnetwork.”
Enjoying your career again
Despite his lack of experience, Bryan started the credentialing and application processes and finally landed his first assignment in Arlington, Texas. He says it wasn’t until he and his family had traveled 1,100 miles to Texas that things really sank in.
“I truly love my job and feel that I am one of the lucky people that can go to work happy and come home happy. Most days it doesn’t even feel like a job,” Bryan says. “I enjoy seeing the impact my profession has on families and patients that I take care of. There is a joy you get when taking care of a 23-week-gestation infant and keeping in touch with the family and seeing that patient grow and thrive.”
Preparing for travel nursing jobs early
Bryan recommends new travelers have an understanding of basic tax laws and shop around to find a fair salary for their travel nursing jobs. He also encourages nurses to look at their contracts carefully and research as much as they can. Having a good consultant is also key.
“If you have a recruiter you can call a friend and get along with, your job will be much easier. At least 80 percent of travel nursing is your relationship with your recruiter,” he says. “It no longer seems like a negotiation on rates or location if you have an understanding and mutual respect for one another. There isn’t anything that a good recruiter can’t answer or handle.”
Traveling with a young family
Since Bryan brings his wife and three young children (8, 6 and 4) on his travel assignments, he tries to extend his contracts to six to nine months to make it easier on them. Despite the challenges, he says the experience has been invaluable for everyone.
“Traveling as a nurse has been a big work vacation. My kiddos have done and seen more in the past two years than most adults get in a lifetime,” Bryan expresses. “We have been to the Dallas Fort Worth area and the Padre Island National Seashore. We have seen the Grand Canyon, Red Rock National Park, and Valley of Fire State Park. We’ve been to the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and the busy streets of Las Vegas. The culture and diversity they have been exposed to is priceless, and traveling has helped me grow as a nurse.”