Introducing Zac Shepherd: Aya’s first nurse fellow
Who Am I?
My name is Zac Shepherd and I’ve been a registered nurse for 11 years. I started as a full-time staff RN in a Dallas, TX, ICU, transitioned to per diem and then began my journey with Aya as a travel RN six years ago. Since then, I’ve traveled extensively across the U.S. on Aya assignments, working in 20+ hospitals and completing 30+ assignments as a travel nurse. My nursing journey has enriched my life, personally and professionally, in a capacity that I could never have imagined.
During the pandemic, I was on the COVID frontlines in ICUs in Newark, NJ, and Los Angeles, CA, and began sharing some of those experiences on my personal social media. By chance, what began as a social media post evolved into an op-ed that was published by a major US news organization. After that, Aya’s team reached out to me and has facilitated additional opportunities over the last several years for me to advocate for the nursing perspective and share my travel nursing journey: writing op-eds, doing news media interviews and speaking at conferences. Throughout this process, it has been my mission to maintain the authenticity and integrity of the nursing profession and speak honestly about the issues that clinicians face.
Sharing the Journey
As I’ve advanced in my nursing career, the more important it has become for me personally to share the nursing journey — not as an “influencer” or to build a “personal brand,” but because I believe in our work. It’s easy for me to advocate for nursing because I believe in nursing. It’s easy for me to talk about how travel nursing empowers nurses because I have seen it in my own journey. Throughout my career all over the US, I’ve seen the power of the nursing profession and worked side by side with the incredible nurses that populate it.
I’ve come to realize that it’s never been about “my journey” … it’s about “our journey”. Nursing is the largest healthcare workforce in the US and a pure, powerful voice on the issues that face patients, clinicians and the healthcare system. I believe that nurses sharing their experiences and perspective has a great impact in elevating the conversation around the profession and building bridges to drive positive change.
Aya’s commitment to empowering clinicians and position on the leading edge of solutions in healthcare has resonated with me from my first interaction with my recruiter six years ago. I know from personal experience the strong stance Aya holds as an advocate for their clinicians by helping them navigate the challenges that a travel nurse faces in the unknown of a new assignment. But that commitment extends far beyond individual clinicians and assignments. Connection matters, authenticity matters and empowering the clinician voice matters. Which is why I’m partnering with Aya to join their team as their first Nurse Fellow.
As a Nurse Fellow, I will:
- Create content and practical resources for nurses and travel nurses, drawing from my experience in various specialties and career background.
- Continue Aya’s goal of empowering nurses to take control of their career path, keeping nurses included and informed about the changing healthcare landscape.
- Represent the nursing perspective and voice where it’s needed, providing insight to Aya’s infrastructure from a clinician’s perspective.
Thank you for all you do. Each nursing journey is unique — I look forward to providing you with information that can help you make informed decisions along the way while advocating for the things that matter to all nurses.