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Travel Nurse Spotlight: Laurel Dawson

Laurel Dawson

Hospice nurse Laurel Dawson desperately needed a change. She loved her work in inpatient oncology but disliked the unit’s management. A clinical journal article about travel nursing piqued her interest, and she found an agency with good online reviews and made the call.

“I was able to acquire an assignment in the town my little nephews lived in, so it was the perfect fit,” Laurel recalls. “The culture of hospice coworkers is that of a close-knit family, and I have the privilege of witnessing and even being a part of patients’ experiences as they leave this world and enter into the next phase of their journeys.”

Benefits of a reliable recruiter

Now, nine years later, Laurel feels confident in her role as a travel nurse and enjoys her relationship with her recruiter at RNnetwork.

“There probably won’t ever be an assignment where 100 percent of everything is perfect, but what makes RNnetwork stand out from the rest is that when there are hiccups, they work tirelessly to fix what is wrong and improve the situation,” Laurel says. “I have actually turned down an assignment with a little more pay at another agency just so I could continue working with my recruiter, Diedra!”

Planning ahead for travel nursing jobs

Laurel, who is originally from North Carolina, says one of her favorite assignments was in Memphis, Tennessee, but she’s also had the opportunity to work in Washington, D.C., and with Navajo families in New Mexico. She says the biggest challenges of travel nursing are trying to make friends with a new staff and striking out on your own to meet people and find places to explore — and she has several other recommendations for new travelers as well.

“Write down questions you have for the prospective hospital or organization before they call you for a phone interview, like uniform requirements, overtime, patient assignments, floating requirements, and the patient-to-nurse ratio,” Laurel says. “Find out what charting system you’ll be using before you start, since you’ll only receive a short orientation at the facility, and go over your contract very carefully before signing it. Finally, ask your travel agency for housing information and call the complex where you’ll be living for the specifics of what’s included and what you need to bring.”

Unexpected rewards of travel nursing

Quick to talk about the unique experiences travel nursing affords her, Laurel feels her career has given her a valuable gift.

“I have gone swimming with sharks (yes, on purpose!), shed tears in Arlington National Cemetery as a U.S. veteran was laid to rest, watched the dying rituals of a Navajo Indian, ridden horseback in the Weminuche Wilderness, gone ice fishing and established lifelong friendships, all thanks to travel nursing,” Laurel says. “Traveling as a hospice nurse has made me realize that life is too short and precious to be unhappy. We should use the good china every day and make time for those who truly matter.”

Explore the country like Laurel and check out our open travel nursing jobs now. You can also read more travel nurse spotlights to see what others like best about the career.

About the author

Lindsay Wilcox

Lindsay Wilcox is a communication professional with experience writing for the healthcare and entertainment industries as well as local government. When she's not circling typos, she's enjoying fish tacos and hanging out with her family.


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