Visiting new places and meeting new people is a natural part of being a travel nurse, but ICU nurse Bob Goldnetz takes that to the next level. From hiking Machu Picchu to snowboarding the slopes of Oregon and exploring Utah’s slot canyons, travel nursing has allowed him to go just about anywhere he wants. And soon, he’s headed to Ecuador for a medical mission! Here’s how Bob Goldnetz balances nursing with his love of travel.
Bob started off as a physical therapy tech, which he enjoyed, but he didn’t feel like he ever got to connect with patients. His mom is a rehab nurse, and she would get letters from patients from decades earlier, while he would completely lose contact with patients once they recovered. Bob realized he wanted a job where he could make a difference, and nursing was a natural fit. With his adventurous lifestyle, travel nursing created the perfect mix of helping others while getting to explore. So, Bob started travel nursing three years ago.
Mastering work/life balance
So far, travel nursing has taken Bob to Salt Lake City, Boise, Portland and southern Oregon, and Denver. Traveling between assignments, he drove Highway 101 all the way down the west coast. During these assignments, Bob mastered the art of work/life balance. He would snowboard, surf, and mountain bike on his days off, and when he had multiple days off, he went backpacking. Then, in-between assignments, he took breaks like a month-long break for snowboarding and another month off for traveling in South America in Ecuador and Colombia.
Travel nursing in a van
How does Bob get all across the country for his travel nursing assignments? Like lots of adventurers, he has an outfitted van that works as a car, a storage unit, a bed, and a kitchen. He focuses on spending his money on the gear that gets him outside, so he needed a car that could carry his two bikes, climbing gear, a surfboard, and more. A minivan did the trick. He said he lovingly gets called “Soccer Bob,” but he loves having the flexibility of a house that goes with him anywhere.
“I’d much rather pull over to the side of the road where no one is and make an egg burrito and wake up to the sound of the waves and not the hotel,” says Bob. After taking the van on bumpy roads, which resulted in blown out struts and ripping off the bottom of the van, he decided he needed something that had four-wheel drive and clearance. He found an Astro van, which fit his lifestyle perfectly. Now, he goes through canyons with a couple of feet of snow with no issues.
Helping across the world
This August, Bob will get to combine his love of traveling with nursing for a medical mission. He’s heading back to Ecuador, after his recruiter, Sam, encouraged him to apply for the trip funded by a grant from the Making a Difference Foundation.
“Ecuador was a place I really wanted to go back to — the mountains, the volcanoes, the countryside, the people, the food — it’s just a great culture and so much to see,” Bob says. So he applied.
Sam called him a few weeks later. Usually, Bob and Sam catch up about their lives as well as work, so Bob started to tell Sam about his struggles working on the van. “I’m working on it and I was kind of frustrated,” he says. “I’m like, ‘I’m good, I’m good. Just working on the damn van. It’s being a pain in the ass.’” When Sam told Bob that she was with RNnetwork’s vice president, Bob thought he was in trouble. When he realized the vice president was on the phone to congratulate him on winning the trip to Ecuador, Bob says, “They told me, and I actually teared up a little bit. I was just amazed. It’s such a great opportunity, and I’m really excited to get back there.”
With such an interesting lifestyle, Bob never has a hard time making friends, whether he’s on a plane, hiking on a trail, or working an assignment. He has bonded with other travel nurses because they didn’t know anyone in the area. On an assignment in Denver, he found six other travel nurses who didn’t know anyone, and he organized things for the seven of them to do, from hiking and climbing to seeing new things in Denver. Though he would often hang out with other travel nurses only a few times before they left for other assignments, he became close friends with lots of them.
Working with teams
Bob also gets along well with staff nurses. He explained that he has heard horror stories about staff nurses treating travel nurses badly, but that’s never been his experience. He found that if he was reliable and flexible, the staff nurses were grateful for his help. He said even if he gets holiday assignments or bad shifts, he understands, because his job as a travel nurse is to give the staff nurses a break.
Bob is currently on a per diem assignment in Alaska, after driving forty hours from Salt Lake in his trusty van. His plan is to work travel nursing in Alaska until August, then head to Ecuador for his medical mission, and link that trip with visiting Chile and Bolivia. After that, he might go back to Alaska or he’ll head to Hawaii — with travel nursing, he certainly has lots of options.