RN Joins the Ranks of Traveling Nurses

December 7th, 2011


By , BSN, RN

Working as a traveling nurse isn't for everyone. It takes a sense of adventure, the willingness to live with a little uncertainty and confidence in your skill sets as an RN. If these qualities fit in your suitcase you can pack up and get ready to go. Kimberly Skinner, RN recently decided she was ready to try hitting the open road for a career adventure. Now back home, from her first assignment, I caught up with her to find out what it was like.

Kim Skinner and her traveling companion Dexter visit the Dog Chapel at artist Stephen Huneck's home and gallery in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

Kim, was working as a traveler something you always wanted to do?

"I often times thought about what it would be like to be a traveler, and pretty much decided one day that's what I wanted to do—travel. If anyone were to ask about what I liked to do in my spare time, the unanimous answer would be travel. I have done my fair share of traveling to places near and far for fun, as well as participated in surgical mission trips to Recife, Brazil, and Antigua, Guatemala. I was looking for a challenge, opportunity, the adventure and the experience."

Where did you end up going?

"I accepted a position at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, a teaching institution in New Hampshire for nearby Dartmouth University. After accepting the offer, I suddenly felt myself wondering, "What have I gotten myself into?" "Wait, isn't that what I have thought about doing for quite some time." After the so called initial shock came the excitement and thoughts of would I like it, would I fit in, etc? The hardest thing was figuring out what/how to pack. After doing some research on the computer, and talking to a good friend who was a former, seasoned traveler, preparing for my adventure was made much easier. Soon I was off and running—guess that should be driving. Part of the fun was traveling through the different states before arriving at my temporary destination. Lebanon, NH, would be home for the next 13 weeks."

Was it hard fitting in?

"Actually, it was pretty easy. I am a people person and I didn't have to try too hard. I was a little shy, at first, but it wasn't too bad."

Ok, so the obvious question, what was it like?

"To say it was an experience would be an understatement. Not only was it my first travel assignment, an earthquake, and hurricane Irene happened during the first week followed by an early snow storm Halloween weekend. I have made new friends along the way from permanent staff to other fellow travelers, and in doing so, feel like I have a new family as we continue to stay in touch. The staff was open-minded to my knowledge, as I was to theirs. The people of the community and surrounding communities seem to know who the travelers are and welcome you with open arms." (Writer's note—that can be a benefit of a small town assignment, even though DHMC is not a small hospital.)

Did you find time to have some fun, some adventures?

"Even though I was there to work, I felt like I was on a mini vacation. Having to work four days a week, left one day and/or the weekend to explore the New England area, and visit with friends who lived around the area or happened to be visiting."

I've heard other travelers say they learn something at every destination, does anything new stand out to you?

"When I was a hospital staff nurse the question always asked when someone new would show up to work was, 'Oh, are you a traveler?' Now being on the receiving end of that question I have a new understanding of how it sounds. I learned to answer, 'Yes, I may be traveling but I am here to be part of your team.'

"I never realized it was a kind of stereotyping. It felt kind of funny, like did I have a permanent home, did I have professional roots? It didn't really bother me but it made me think. Before I ask someone that again I am going to find a better way to phrase it.”

You are home now for the holiday but will you be returning to NH?

"Would I go back? In a heartbeat. Would I accept another travel assignment elsewhere? Ditto. I'm already getting ready for the next assignment; the first time jitters, the what and how has subsided, making it easier. It will definitely be a smoother transition back to DHMC or to a new destination."

Photo: Kim Skinner and her traveling companion Dexter visit the Dog Chapel at artist Stephen Huneck's gallery in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

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