Current tunes: Twenty One Pilots, “Tear in My Heart”
Last year, a good friend of mine sent me this link about an article titled, “7 Must Do’s While You’re Single”. As most of my readers know, I have been living the solo life for some time now and for the most part, it rocks. Except when I have those tiny moments of loneliness and serial watch episodes of The Mindy Project with jar of peanut butter and a spoon in hand.
Anyways, as of last year when I was reading this, I realized that I had completed the list in its entirety except for one:
1. Live alone.
Basically have done this while home owning with gap months between roomies and then the roomies who work/travel so much that we never saw each other.
2. Fly to a foreign country by yourself.
Probably one of my favorite things on this list. If you haven’t tried it, do yourself a favor and give it a go just once. You learn a lot, see a lot, and become a lot. If that makes sense.
3. Spend a weekend with a married couple your age.
I consider third-wheeling one of my basic hobbies.
4. Take a long trip with your best friend.
I have been fortunate to have taken many trips with Melanie. But I will say that our four week backpacking trip jumping from hostel to hostel together is really when I came down with a bad case of wanderlust.
5. Be completely, utterly, wholly single for at least three months.
Why isn’t there an Olympic sport team for this? Just gold medal me already.
6. Be a good wingman/wingwoman for you friend (and watch Top Gun).
Okay I guess I sort have done this. I have never seen Top Gun. Ironically, I mentioned this to a friend just last week and he (hopefully) jokingly replied, “It’s a good thing you’re pretty.” Umm What? Apparently I need to watch this stat.
and last but not least, the one thing I had yet to do…
7. QUIT YOUR JOB.
So everyone, I am officially announcing that I have finally completed this list. While I consider myself a bit of a dreamer, I am pretty practical when it comes to dream life vs real life. Hence me living in Fresno for three years post college as I whined and watched all my friends leave me. And looking back, as much as I prayed for doors to open up and opportunities to move, God knew where I needed to be and provided me a rockin’ job with a loving support system just when I thought that maybe He was letting me slip through the cracks as I entered adulthood. But yet again, He did not fail me. The last three years working at Community Regional Medical Center and putting on my big girl pants by purchasing a home have been exactly what I needed to learn what it means to be a real live adult. I know saying “real live adult” sound silly, but in college I originally thought I had crossed the “real adult” line when I started drinking coffee black and eating grapefruit without sugar. But nope, I definitely still had some growing to do and these last three years have prepped me to do the thing I thought I would never be able to follow through with. So after a year and a half of debating and obsessing over my future, I did it. I quit. And packed my whole life in the back of my Jeep. And I currently am subleasing in San Diego. Hold on a sec, I have to pinch myself and make sure this is real life. Yes, yes, yes.
So what am I doing now? What if I told you there was a career in the US in existence that you were paid to travel and were in full control of where you went, when you went, and how long you stayed? Well, hello travel nursing! Or travel health care profession of your choice. I do not know much about other travel career positions but I know there is everything from travel physician assistants, to travel radiology technicians, to travel physical therapists, etc. Looking back on my career choices, I actually remember learning about travel nursing as a junior in high school before I even knew I wanted to pursue being an RN. Fast forward eight years and here I am signing my first contract. So here is the breakdown on my new chapter of life:
Me and a co-worker from my old job who is officially my new roomie, travellette, and dear friend, Kaitlin. Kaitlin is a friendly, sarcastic, wine loving, hot blonde adventurer (sorry boys, she’s taken!) She and I worked the opposite shifts at work so we rarely saw each other, but every now and then we’d pick up a shift during the other’s schedule and our love for travel connected us instantly. Through our friendship we learned that both of us had had travel nursing on our radar since we graduated nursing school. And after a year of secretly planning this adventure, we finally took the leap.
Technically we are called a travel pair, but I’ll get into that.
Travel Nursing. There is a huge nursing shortage across America and even though junior colleges and accelerated programs seem to be cranking them out like nobody’s business, the need for experienced nurses is still very high. Add that to people going on maternity leave or FMLA or just being short on staff in general and nursing units across the nation are just hurting for more help. I mean the good and bad part about nursing is the job security. People will always be sick and hospitals simply cannot stop running. So travel nursing allows to meet these needs by having a having a temporary qualified/licensed professional fill in for a short period. In general, to start the process of being a travel nurse you research one of the bazillion travel nursing companies and find a recruiter who basically acts like your agent. You get to tell them all your preferences like location, nursing type, shift type, hospital specialities, etc…Once you fill out a detailed application/skills list/acquire references, you are presented with a list of all the needs in your preferred cities including the pay package for that facility. Then you have them submit you to your top facilities of choice and you wait for phone interviews. The whole process is actually kind of exhausting and confusing. I am so glad to be doing it with somebody as a travel pair and Kaitlin has been that support and push to help me get through the extensive applications and competency exams. Finally, after much deliberation we decided on….
Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego, California! Well technically it’s in La Jolla. We originally were really hoping for a Portland or Seattle placement to try and catch the tail end of the warmer weather in the Pacific Northwest but with the prestige of being at such a well-known facility in one of the most beautiful beach towns in America, we simply could not say no. The travel nursing company will either find you housing or give you a housing stipend. We opted for the stipend and let me tell you, people are not kidding when they San Diego cost of living is expensive. I could not believe what some people were asking. However, I should mention finding a three month lease on a 2 bedroom furnished apartment with a decent price is like getting Ryan Gosling to reply to your fan mail.
Most nursing contracts are 13 weeks in length (about three months) and we are contracted from August to November. There is usually an opportunity to extend if A)they need you, B)they like you, C)you want to. So we’ll see. San Diego is actually my favorite city in California and would definitely not mind having Christmas on the sand :]
Many nurses pursue travel nursing for the money because we are categorized as a per diem staff member that is helping a hospital in need. However, I did not choose travel nursing for this reason at all. It’s pretty well known that I am quite the travel bug. With that being said, you can imagine how living in the same location since birth has started to to feel a little stagnant. If you’re not from my hometown, the Central Valley of California gets a lot of flack for basically being boring and bloody hot (and maybe a little ghetto lol). But really, it’s not a bad place. It is wonderful for families, has a amazing fresh produce and is one of the largest fruit suppliers in the world, the cost of living makes my wallet happy, and the people are just really friendly. But let’s be real, it definitely is not budding with young professionals in the same stage of life as me. Don’t get me wrong, I am so ecstatic for my married friends and those with their second bun in the oven but that is just not where I am at right now. The only buns I want in the oven are of the cinnamon variety. So while leaving my job was probably one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, I am so glad I did. And I’ll admit, I kind of cried my way through my meeting with my boss when I explained where my heart has been and my need to try something new. The fact that he was so supportive and amazing about it made it even harder to leave. If you are a reader that was a part of my amazing work family, I want to thank you for pruning me into the nurse I am today! Come visit!
So that’s the update. I have been home from Africa for about a month and have already fled Fresno yet again. But I could not be more thrilled. The whole seven hour drive down was brutal with the Los Angeles traffic yet my face hurt from smiling the whole day. Of course there are a lot of potentially scary and negative things about no longer being a full-time benefited employee. We essentially are considered hired help and are more of number than a true employee. And can you imagine getting a two day orientation at an entirely new work setting and then be expected to be efficient, caring, intelligent, mindful, and most importantly to NOT KILL ANYONE?!?! But I don’t want to focus on the negatives so I’ll probably post on those things as they arise. One thing is for sure, it’s bound to be memorable. And I am so ready for this wild ride.
Cheers and keep on wishin’ from sunny San Diego!