Travel Nurse Stories

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She’s cruising down the river…any river

Bringing Along Family/Friends/Partners, Cutting-Edge Clinical Techniques, Helping Hospitals in Need, Outdoors Across the U.S., Taking (Lots of) Time Off, Travel Nursing + Side Hustle

When Claire first heard of travel nursing as a wide-eyed undergrad her first thoughts were, “You can really do that? This is real?”

Seven years and many assignments later, Claire now knows that possibilities travel nursing offers are, in fact, very real and very wonderful. She’s wandered all over the western United States from Northern California, Oregon and Idaho out eastwards to New Mexico and Colorado. During a stint in Grand Junction, the bubbly Tennessee native encountered Brayden, an outdoor photographer. They met while boating on the Arkansas River, and since then, as Claire puts it, “We are out adventuring every day off.”

At times, Claire is firmly at the helm navigating their journey, but on their beloved rivers and in life, she and Brayden often simply go with the flow. One day Claire will call her recruiter, and “good friend,” Brooke, to say that she’s looking for an assignment in Utah and the next day she’ll say she can’t wait to go to Washington or Alaska or some other wild place. Claire laughs as she admits, “I’m a little scatterbrained but Brooke just rolls with it. She knows the type of assignments I look for and knows what I am going to be really stoked on.” Claire’s housing search usually unfolds in the same unhurried manner. On her current assignment in the sleepy foothill town of Redding, California, Claire and Brayden happened upon a tiny house for sale and talked the owner into renting it to them. She’s been surprised by how much she enjoys not only their (very close) quarters, but also the entire area. Claire was happy to discover that, as she puts it, “The rivers here are unbelievable and we can boat through the winter!”

While an endless summer certainly has its appeal, traditional winter activities hold their charms for Claire as well. She adored the “cool little community hospital” in Ketchum, Idaho where she could actually ski to her job in the ICU. And it wasn’t just the recreational possibilities that entertained her. She explains, “I started off in bigger, higher acuity hospitals but now I kinda like smaller ones. I actually have patients that I can sit down with and hear their life stories.” She learns something new on each assignment and finds that “It’s fun to be surrounded by these different techniques of evidence-based practice and see what they are doing in different hospitals.”

Some people might consider bouncing around to different hospitals or living in a 200-square foot space an inconvenience, but Claire tends to see the best in every situation and she isn’t happy unless she’s doing something new and different. Describing the past year and her future plans she says, “I finished an assignment in February and then we took off for a few months in Nicaragua. After this assignment, I think we will take a break and go down to Baja to work the adventure photography thing for a little while.” She considers herself lucky to have been introduced to travel nursing since it’s the only job she has found that allows her to take such large chunks of time off. She uses some of these breaks not only to gallivant to exotic destinations but also to give back. During her months “off” you may find her at a reservation clinic in New Mexico, treating villagers in Central America or training nurses in Nigeria. Of her volunteer work, she says, “I think it’s one of the most satisfying things that I’ve gained from nursing.”