Are you in a proverbial “rut”? Have you worked at the same hospital for ten or more years? Do you like the staff you work with and the actual work, but not the unit politics? Are the doctors, with whom you work essentially a good bunch of people or is there a definite feeling that they would not support you if there was ever a law suit against them-also implicating the nurses?
This is exactly where I was at, in my nurse career about eight years ago. I worked in a high turnover, fast paced, Labour and Delivery unit at a hospital in Ontario, Canada. Even years later, friends and colleagues from a “sister unit” Neonatal Intensive Care, would say to me “You guys worked like dogs!”
This I knew for a fact. After fifteen years it was time to go!!
I began exploring opportunities in other locations and especially looked at Travel Nursing. One of my good friends told me about her healthcare recruiter and the agency for whom she worked. I made phone contact and began to focus in on my plan. I had been licensed in the U.S. since 1978 after having taken the State Board Test Pool Exams (the ones before the NCLEX) in Oklahoma where I lived for seven years. I had never let that nurse licensure lapse and paid my dues every two years-“just in case”. I knew I did not want to work on a similar unit and was ready for a small, low key kind of hospital experience.
Ironically the first healthcare recruiter I worked with did not manage to find me the type of location I was looking for. I filled out an online application, which I did not realize at the time,went to many different travel nurse agencies.
Within a week a recruiter from one of these agencies called me and we began to look at travel nurse opportunities. By this time, I knew what would be ideal for me so he had a good sense of what I was looking for.
It is important to decide this in advance and also decide if the recruiter with whom you are working understands your fundamental requests. If not, move on or request another recruiter. It is your livelihood so be happy!
My first travel nurse assignment was in Cape Cod, a small, well equipped, brand new unit and I was able to work eight hour shifts on afternoons-no nights. I had long ago decided that at this time in my life I had paid my dues as I had worked night shifts,off and on, for 36 years!
This was one of the best professional experiences of my travel nurse career. I met some really nice people, was credited with actually knowing something from past experiences and felt supported by the staff. Being a registered nurse traveler, I could do my job and go home-not having to get embroiled in the unit politics.
Then, upon return to Canada, the next contract was going to be HAWAII TRAVEL NURSING!! I decided to compromise my desire for no night shift when the offer arrived. Either work night shift and go to Maui-or – don’t!
The choice seemed pretty clear! The result was returning to Maui and its one acute care hospital for five contracts of a six month duration-each beginning in September or October with an extension into March.
Because of this extended five year “experience” on Maui we really were able to become acclimatized to the culture, people and way of life, of course I made life-long friends at the hospital, was invited to many baby showers and events and really became “one of the gang”. We like to think we became Kama’aina- Literally translated means “old timers”.
By tradition, when a new baby turns a year old, there is a luau in his or her honor. We looked forward every year to the Maui Fall Fair at the end of September. Which was much like our local Fall Fairs in Canada but with a tropical twist. My favorite display was by the Orchid Society of Maui with the most amazing arrangement of absolutely exquisite variety of orchids, especially the miniature ones. I did not know these even existed. There are over 1000 varieties.
Every Saturday morning we went to the Swap Meet which had everything a “tourist” could want. We became well known to some of the produce vendors especially the “Strawberry Guy” who grew strawberries year round “up country” in Kula. We bought most fresh produce there and I could go after working night shift on Fridays as they opened at 7:00 a.m.
We admired the locals surfing on the North end of the island at Ho’o’kipa beach. And there was world-class windsurfing competitions at the same beach every year.
My husband John, who was unable to work because of not having a T.N. visa did a great deal of volunteer work. He really learned a lot about ocean life, i.e. whales and dolphins etc. when he joined the Pacific Whale Foundation volunteer staff and went on snorkel cruises for eight hours every Saturday. His job was a general helper with the “tourists” and all the snorkel equipment. When the people returned from snorkeling the coral reefs he would help them identify the fish underwater life and types of coral they had seen.
My personal, most memorable experience was the return of the “gentle giants”-the humpback whales or “Kohala” every year in December. Their annual journey every year to the warm Hawaiian waters from Alaska was a never ending source of amazement to me. They would have their 800 pound babies(!) and if their escort males were successful, they would return
in April to the cold Alaska waters pregnant with the next years’ calf.
I even have a gold Hawaiian bracelet with whales etched around it to remember this forever.
Our families visited at different times.My brother and wife came every year and one year brought my 86- year- old Aunt who could not get enough sunshine!
Our children and families came and we were able to take everyone to the Old Lahaina Luau which we always enjoyed no matter how many times we attended. Great local buffet (all you can eat) then an evening of amazing Hawaiian dancing. I met some of my former clients there who were servers, dancers or part of the expansive staff.
We have visited the other islands in the well known chain of eight, either flying over in a helicopter, or actually touching down and exploring.
The “Big Island” of Hawaii has an active volcano, Kilauea,
which has been known to erupt and is still spilling molten lava into the ocean. We went to the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park for a day with friends and family. Many locals still give gifts of fruit and flowers to Pele, the goddess of fire as she has control over these eruptions. Don’t make Pele angry as she will seek revenge..!
The “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” is an unexpected miracle of nature on the island of Kaua’i. This island would be my pick to revisit. It is very rural and picturesque with wild chickens running everywhere! But if you prefer the “city lights” O’ahu and specifically Honolulu is where you should go as the island has 85% of the Hawaiian population.
We have been “steeped” in the Hawaiian culture for five years and will always regard our time there as something very special, our experience in Paradise. Aloha!
John and Janet Weidendorf are owners of [http://www.travel-nurse-coach.com].
Our website is a free online resource for Canadian, International and American nurses who wish to travel. Janet is a registered nurse who has worked on travel assignments in several places including exotic places like Maui(more information at [http://www.travel-nurse-coach.com/travel-nurse-hawaii.html].