For Tracey, helping and meeting the needs of others is a way of life. Growing up with a mother who was a nurse with a strong work ethic, both inside and outside the home, Tracey learned how care-giving could be extended cheerfully to both family and the community at large. By becoming a travel nurse herself, Tracey takes that giving spirit on the road to patient populations all over the country. Read how this telemetry travel nurse conquered her fears by doing the very things she’s afraid of, all while traveling the country doing what she loves.
A Day in the Travel Nurse Telemetry Unit
Describe why you wanted to become a nurse, and how it’s led to you wanting to be a travel nurse.
Since my mom was a nurse, I learned to make my bed with “hospital corners” before I even knew what a hospital was. She taught me how to take care of people around me and get things done, and I’ve carried that mentality forward into my own career progression. I never really thought to myself “Maybe I want to go to nursing school” because the idea was always there in my life and in my world. At 30, I went to nursing school after years of being in the social services field because it was the natural next step for me, and my background now paints a full picture of psychological and physical health.
That brings me to travel nursing. The way I approach new things is simple: if I’m afraid of it, that probably means I should do it, and that’s how I conquer my fear. I was afraid to go somewhere on my own, and yet I didn’t want to live in a small box when I have so much more available to me. Why wouldn’t I be a travel nurse? I can travel and do what I love, support my family, send my kid to college, and still be able to make a living while meeting everybody’s needs. I do it because I’m afraid of it.
What made you interested in travel nurse telemetry units?
Once again, I was scared of it. In nursing school my best area was cardio, but I was also intimidated because the heart is a vital organ; you’re holding people’s lives in your hands every day as you teach patients to manage – not necessarily heal – their condition, and create a healthier environment for their heart, mind, body and soul. Being a telemetry travel nurse means painting the patient a picture of how diet, exercise and medication management affects their overall health, and helping each patient individually build new routines into their day. Educating my patients is my passion – whether it’s an individual or the whole family, I love sitting down with them to draw a picture that they can understand, and how small tweaks in their everyday life can help them make progress.
How is being a travel telemetry nurse different than permanent staff?
I get to share my love, and that is amazing in itself. I’m not anchored down, which is odd because for the most part I am a homebody, but the advantage is that I get to share my life and experiences with my patients in a mobile manor. I get to meet new populations and groups of people, which is an absolute joy.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love being a nurse because of my patients – educating them and their families about their conditions is my favorite part of the job. You can’t do better until you know better, so I help people relearn how to take care of themselves in light of their diagnosis. Sometimes I take patients on mental shopping trips at Walmart to pick out what to eat, read labels, and think about how food affects their health.
Some concepts seem foreign and scary at first to many patients, but when I put them into plain English, they are able to gain perspective. If you speak purely in “medical-ese”, people won’t hear you, and if they don’t hear they can’t heal, grow, and invest more accurately in their own health. People can get the same satisfaction and enjoyment out of life in a heart-healthy manor.
A diagnosis is not the end, it’s just a different perspective. A health condition can look like an insurmountable mountain until you begin the journey to health, step by step, and the mountain gets smaller until it’s finally in the rear view mirror with nothing but plains ahead. Perspective.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
Being away. Just like you deal with major life events with your patients every day, as a travel nurse you have major life events going on with your own family and friends elsewhere. You’re just a little bit further away than you’d like to be. But that in itself isn’t a bad thing – it creates a different perspective. You have to manage life events from a little further back in the theater instead of onstage. You’re still a part of everything, just a few steps back. You grow your appreciation for your role in other people’s lives.
Describe your typical day in the life of a telemetry travel nurse.
Three of my last four travel nurse assignments have been on night shift. When everybody’s getting up in the morning, I’ve been up all night and have just come off my shift. I sleep during the day, and keep to the same schedule even on my days off. After a shift I head straight to the park and have a run or a walk to get my body moving and keep my metabolism going. Then I slow it down, grab a shower, and I’m in bed from 10 a.m. until about 5 p.m. When I wake up I eat lunch and off to work I go. As a travel nurse, your health comes at a premium because you have to be in condition to care for someone else, so maintaining a routine is key. I usually get to work 15-20 minutes early every day so I have time to look through charts. The day shift nurses look at me like a juicy steak when they see me walk in because they are ready to go – it’s a great way to make friends and they are so happy to see you.
How has working with Cirrus Medical Staffing enriched your experience as a travel nurse?
I always have someone I can rely on. If I have questions or I’m unsure how an assignment is proceeding, I have an awesome group of resources. They’re a phone call, email, or a text away. It’s so reassuring, running off into the great unknown, that I have people when I need help – whether it’s finding housing, how to go about about getting my license, etc. – there is always somebody available. My recruiter, Heather Fortman, is available at the drop of the hat. She is well-equipped with resources, which gives me confidence and security knowing that somebody else is looking out for my best interests. Not only that, but somebody’s always checking on me to make sure I’m okay – if I’m not heard from for a while I always get a “Hey how you doing?” or “How’s life treating you?” call from Heather. I have a team behind me who will help me in any way they can. My favorite part of being a Cirrus team member is that it doesn’t feel like an “I”, but a “we”. You are never alone – you may be 1,700 miles from home, but you’re not away from home by yourself. I have full confidence that my recruiter and my team has my back – I know that when I’m ready to go to my next travel nursing job, I have someone with my best interests at heart.