ICU nurse Mary Stewart says she knew she wanted to become a nurse because she’d grown used to nurturing others as a single mom.
Choosing a meaningful career
“Working as an account manager for a home health agency, I saw the difference these nurses were making in people’s lives. I thought, ‘I would really like to do that and make a difference,'” Mary recalls. “I knew I could fulfill that inner need to nurture other people, and I could support my family.”
Traveling as a nurse before retirement
Just a few months in nursing school, Mary learned about travel nursing jobs and realized this was the opportunity she’d been looking for.
“At the age I graduated — I was 42 — I figured I wasn’t going to work long enough as a bedside nurse to retire and then travel. The next best thing was to get paid to see the world,” Mary says. “When I graduated and started my job, the first five years I was working toward becoming a travel nurse.”
Working your way across the country
Now, with more than 10 years of nursing experience and four years of travel nursing jobs with RNnetwork, Mary doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
“I’m on vacation four days out of the week, and I can go just about anywhere I want to. My recruiter, Shalena, is great about finding jobs for me,” Mary says. “I’m exposed to a lot of different types of equipment and procedures, and I meet a lot of different people.”
Finding compassionate coworkers and agencies
Mary recommends those interested in travel nursing ask a lot of questions and get to know the travelers at their own facilities first. She also suggests finding an agency that offers great benefits and understands your needs as a travel nurse.
“I lost four family members in a few short months, including my daughter, who traveled with me,” Mary recalls. “Everyone was very supportive at my facility in Indiana. They didn’t give me patients who were on the edge because they knew it would be hard for me. My recruiter was also very supportive. I believe God put me in the right place at the right time so I could work for RNnetwork. You are all family.”
Enjoying a fresh start
While she’s experienced heartache the past year, Mary says she’s sometimes able to share what she’s been through and empathize with her patients. Travel nursing helps her start over and avoid burning out.
“Do you want to spice up your nursing career and feel like a new nurse again? Do you want to get the excitement and the adrenaline of nursing? You need to start traveling,” Mary says. “Get out and see the world. It’s very exciting.”
Mary was one of eight nurses who attended our recent nurse panel. Check out this video about her experiences — and watch this video featuring Mary and two other panelists as well.