PACU nurse Mary Pitman had more than 30 years of nursing experience and was beginning to feel stagnant in her permanent position. When she met some travelers in her department, she knew it was time to make the leap.
“They all seemed to really like travel nursing, and it sounded adventurous,” Mary recalls. “I’ve worked three assignments with RNnetwork now, and my recruiter, Alaina, is simply the best. She offers me support and words of encouragement.”
Exploring while on your travel nursing assignment
Mary has embarked on her own adventures since becoming a travel nurse, especially on her current assignment in Orlando, Fla.
“I’ve been wakeboarding and gone to the Himalayan salt room, and I’m going to do four drum lessons with the drummer from The Moody Blues,” Mary expresses.
Now that she’s taken a few travel nursing jobs, she knows better what to expect — and what advice to give other travel nurses.
“Get a map of the city you’re going to. It’s good to have an overview even though you can put directions in your GPS,” Mary says. “Find the 24-hour Walmart, and bring your own pillows.”
Learning new skills and experiencing new facilities
Mary says her favorite assignment so far was in Gainesville, Fla., because the surgical services department was run well.
“One designated, experienced PACU charge nurse made the assignments manageable,” Mary recalls. “She knew when a nurse couldn’t handle another patient and would skip over her until her patient was stabilized and she could handle another.”
As a travel nurse, Mary says, it takes more time to earn the staff nurses’ trust since you’re only there for a short time. However, she’s been able to make friends with coworkers as well.
“We need to bring our A-game as travelers. There can be some resentment from staff, and it takes more to earn their respect,” Mary says. “But once they’re confident you know your stuff, you’re in.”
Helping those in desperate need
Mary was working at an Orlando hospital the night of and several nights after the Pulse nightclub tragedy and cared for one of the survivors, who had extensive injuries and was finally stable after more than nine hours of surgery. She says she was physically and emotionally exhausted after her shifts and turned to her recruiter for comfort.
“Alaina had called to check on me and assured me I was doing great work,” Mary says. “She told me I was a strong nurse and my patients really needed me. ‘There’s a reason you’re in Orlando,’ she said. I knew she was right.”
Though Mary says she was unprepared for the extent of the injuries she treated, she was also unprepared for the outpouring of love her hospital received from across the country.
“The PACU nurses who treated victims of the Boston Marathon bombing had food delivered to us and, more importantly, seven pages of hand-written words of encouragement and support. I still haven’t been able to get past page three,” Mary expresses. “Their words validated what I was feeling.”
Growing amid times of tragedy
Mary is grateful for the help she received following the Orlando shooting and is already planning her next travel nursing assignment with RNnetwork.
“I love being a nurse because I can help to alleviate not only pain, but fear after surgery,” Mary says. “I’m thankful for the support and words of encouragement I received when I was broken and had no one else to turn to — and I have a new skill set I can bring to the next assignment.”